All Saints’ Day

Occasionally, Fr Ronan Drury (Editor of “The Furrow”) asks me to contribute homily material for the publication.  Most recently he asked me to submit some homilies for the month of November.  I was in Knock yesterday at a Day of Recollection for priests from the Tuam Province (Tuam, Achonry, Clonfert, Elphin, Galway and Galway) and it was nice that two of the homilies were mentioned to me by priests there – I thought I might include them here as well for anyone that might have an interest.

This is the homily for All Saints’ Day

I remember a priest of our diocese who used always name, in its entirety, the list of saints given in Eucharistic Prayer 1.  He had a slow and solemn delivery and when he’d say “and all the saints”, you’d be inclined to ask “are there any you didn’t mention?”  That list seems to be getting longer – soon to be added Pope John Paul 11 and Pope John XX111 – but maybe that’s no bad thing.  Maybe we need to be reminded that saintliness is still in vogue and that good people are found in every generation and in every place.

A few years ago I was doing some work on the weekend parish bulletin – okay, a bit of last minute work – and it was the weekend of All Saints so I decided to consult Google for an image I might use.  I simply typed in “ALL SAINTS” and every image presented to me was of four girls who make up the band of the same name! Even going down through the pages, I didn’t come across one religious image representing All Saints.

Could this be an all too sad sign of the times?  Maybe X-FACTOR is the new creator of saints. Perhaps the “Judges” panel is the new assessor of miracles –  not settling for three but rather the millions of albums and downloads that must be sold before a band is deemed to be worth its salt and deserving of a spot in the limelight.

Our “All Saints” though speak of countless people who lived good and faith-filled lives and are now numbered among the “Holy Ones” in God’s presence.  We need to dig deep into all that is good and honest in us to recognise their story and imitate their life choices.  They are, in absolute truth, our “role models”.

A slightly deeper “Google” dig, including the word “Day” with All Saints, brought forth a different set of images. Google did the trick though. What’s needed is there to be found and sometimes finding it involves just trying a bit harder and giving it a bit more time – adding another word!

The addition of the word “day” took me to images that spoke to and of the Feast Day we celebrate.  Maybe it’s not an accident.  Maybe “day” has to be synonymous with saintliness for it’s in the “daylight” we live at our most honest.  St Paul told us to “cast off the works of darkness” (Rom 13:12).  It’s certain that those remembered today lived life “in the day”.

Miracles are associated with saints.  People who may never have known or met them benefit from their lives through miracle or cure and that link of benefit helps lead the sainted ones to the Church’s moment of recognition and canonisation.  It is a lovely way of acknowledging the connectedness of the ages in our on-going story of faith and pilgrimage.  We look to and learn from those gone before and they too are blessed in the remembrance.

Back to my friend of Eucharistic Prayer 1, who, in the opinion of many, is now numbered among the sainted ones, thank you for the listing the names and reminding us of our “Holy Past” and calling us to a faith-filled present.