In the official calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, which begins on the First Sunday of Advent and ends with the Solemnity of Christ the King, canonized saints are honored and remembered on their respective memorial or feast day. A saint’s feast day is usually their passing away anniversary signaling their entrance into heavenly glory. While we have information about these saints, and we honor them on specific days, there are many unknown or saints who may have been forgotten, or have never been specifically honored.
Today, we celebrate these saints of the Lord, and we thank the Lord for welcoming them into heaven with the hope that one day, we shall be united with them. This feast originated from the ancient tradition of honoring the martyrs of Christianity. Later on, as martyrs begin to increase due to the persecution by the Romans, the church instituted a common commemoration of their steadfastness in the faith. Thus this feast was established. The common feast was placed during the Easter Season to emphasize the belief that the martyrs share in the glory of the Resurrection of Christ. Pope Gregory III (731-741) transferred the feast to November 1, when he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and ordered an annual celebration.
Today’s solemnity is the Church’s way of reminding us of the reality of the Communion of Saints. In the creed, we profess our faith in the Communion of Saints in glory. By this, we mean, that all Christians are called to be in communion with Christ as our head.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “As Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom, as from its fountain and head, issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples,” (CCC 956, 957)
As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let us remember that there are saints in heaven who are united with us and we can count on their prayers and supplications. May this feast also remind us that we are all called to be saints. May their holiness inspire us to be like them and one day be reunited with them in the glory of heaven.