Solemnity of All Saints

WHAT’S IN A SAINT?

By Leanna Cappiello

All Saints Day actually begins on All Hallows Eve, the eve of October 31st. The word “Halloween” is derived from the word “hallow”, an old English word for “saint”. Though almost every day of the year has a feast of one or two saints, this is the only day of the year that we celebrate the feast of all saints, honoring the known and unknown.

When I was much younger, I had only heard about saints of the old world, Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Catherine of Sienna, etc. I started to wonder, “are all saints religious or ordained individuals?” Of course, this was in part recognition of my desire for sainthood, and a sigh of disappointment that the only saints I know of were cloistered nuns, priests and contemplatives. Where was my opportunity to be a saint if I was not a martyr or mystic?

It wasn’t until later in my adulthood that I heard about Saint Gianna Molla, wife, mother and doctor, patroness of the pro-life movement; Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, lay man, student and social justice advocate; Saint André Bessette, healer, visitor of the poor and sick; and, Louis and Zélie Martin, tradespeople, spouses, parents, and the first couple to be canonized together. I learned what it means to be called a saint: not about living one specific vocation, rather living your vocation to the fullest. We must ask ourselves what gifts and desires, circumstances and challenges has God given to us?

Stories of men and women who stood in front of arrows, and cut off body parts, and performed acts of self mutilation are not ways that the Church would ask people to glorify God today. Just as time has evolved so has the witness that speaks to our time and circumstances. Our imitation of these saints is not to emulate (necessarily) their actions, but their great devotion to God that lead to such great acts of selflessness. In this way, we can look at the saints of the early Church with new eyes and see with what qualities they lived their lives.

This season you will hear about some saints that you recognize, and I hope, some you may encounter for the first time. Together, we will look deeper into the hearts of the saints, and potentially start to see ourselves as saintly material.

Sunday’s Readings:

Revelation 7.2-4, 9-14

1 John 3.1-3

Matthew 5.1-12a