For All The Saints

We begin this month of November with back-to-back feasts. On November 1, the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints. As Catholics, we are blessed to have a calendar that is full of celebrations of the lives of saints. The Church honors those who have gone before us and who now intercede for us from heaven. On November 2, the Church celebrates the feast of All Souls. In this beautiful feast, the Church honors our beloved dead, as we remember those who have passed on from this earthly life and now await their final reward.

I was baptized in April of 1958 at just a few weeks old. It was customary at that time for parents to name their child after a saint, and hence, the name Timothy was given to me on the day of my baptism. Sadly, the practice of naming children after saints has fallen by the wayside a bit, in our modern culture.

I vividly recall my sixth grade teacher, Sister Mary Lourdes. Sister was a no-nonsense woman, who told it like it is – sometimes rather bluntly! On this day, Sister carefully checked our names off her list as she called attendance. She called out the name of my neighbor, “Penny Jo…” Sister seemed a bit perplexed about this name. She looked over her glasses at this curly-haired young Catholic named Penny and asked, “Dear, what is your real name?” My poor friend assured the good sister that her given name was Penny. In a room full of Mary’s and Joseph’s and Katherine’s, how could it be that this child was not named after a saint? Well, sister questioned her a little further, until it became apparent that the poor child was about to cry. She abandoned her questioning and moved on to the next student on the list.

Do you have a favorite saint? Many of us have saints who have adopted us, or vice versa. Perhaps you prayed to a particular saint at a time of great difficulty in your life? Maybe you have special celebrations on particular feast days of saints. Saints are those who have gone before us and have achieved life’s goal: the reward of life in heaven forever. In addition to our normal prayers directed at the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can also pray to saints – but in a different way.

It is a wonderful practice to invoke the intercession of the saints to help us on our earthly journey. Many of us have implored Saint Anthony when a set of car keys was missing. There are statues of Saint Joseph buried in the front yards of homeowners who have placed their homes on the market. The saints are indeed attentive to us and ever-willing to intercede for our every need.

As we move into this month of November, the Church focuses our attention on the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. As we come to the end of our Church year, we are reminded that our life here on earth is but a stopping point on our road to eternity. It is appropriate that we look to the saints as examples of how to live holy lives aimed at heaven as our final goal.

Days are growing shorter, temperatures are colder, the leaves are falling from the trees, and we await the coming of winter. Soon our Minnesota landscape will be covered in a blanket of white. Many of us find ourselves spending more time indoors during these chilly days of late fall.   This act of physically moving inside can also be a signal to us to turn our interior focus, our hearts, to the things of heaven.

Just as those packing for a voyage take stock of what they will need when they arrive, this is a good time for us to take stock of our spiritual life. Are we preparing for eternity?

We know that each of us will face judgment at the end of our earthly lives. If we have focused our lives on the Lord and serving Him, we need not fear the day of our judgment. Each of us will be judged on how we have used this life God has given us. God knows how we are made.   From the time of Adam and Eve, humans have struggled with following God’s loving plan for our lives. We stumble and fall, we rise and succeed, and we stumble and fall again. This is our earthly life.

As we look at the lives of the saints, we should not be surprised that many of them led lives that were less than perfect. We can read about the life of Saint Paul, a man who persecuted Christians, and yet became a great evangelist. Saint Peter, who denied Christ three times, became the rock upon which the Church was built!

As we come to the end of this Church year, let us turn our hearts to the Lord, who loves us and desires that all of His children be with Him in heaven forever. Let us call upon the saints to intercede for us and to guide us by the example of their holy lives.

May God bless you!

Deacon Tim


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