Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day

Today for Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints I went to Marytown, which is right next door to the University of St. Mary of the Lake and The Liturgical Institute. I know that if I go there I will not have to endure mediocre Liturgies, but rather a reverent celebration of the Mystery of our Faith. As we were gathered around the Altar of Sacrifice and the Celebrant was chanting the preface I was struck by its beauty. It goes like this:

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
We do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.

Today we keep the festival of your holy city,
the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother.
Around your throne
The saints, our brothers and sisters,
sing your praise for ever.
Their glory fills us with joy,
and their communion with us in your
Church gives us inspiration and strength
as we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith,
eager to meet them.

With their great company and all the
angels we praise your glory
as we cry out with one voice:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.
There were a few things that struck me as this preface was sung. First, the image of the heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother. Indeed, we are sons and daughters of the Heavenly Jerusalem. It, and only it, is our true home. As we celebrate all Saints Day our hearts should burn with longing for our heavenly home. Our hearts should burn with longing to join our elder brothers and sisters, the Saints, in God’s Glory.

Second, it is this very image as the Saints as our brothers and sisters that struck me. Whenever I baptize and infant I will usually explain why we have a litany of the Saints in the Rite of Baptism, especially if there are protestants present. My explanation revolves around the fact that the Saints are our brothers and sisters, and just like our natural brothers and sisters who may have died, we are still connected with them. Just because a member of our natural family dies doesn’t mean they are no longer part of the family. They are still connected to us, they are still part of the family. The same is true of the members of God’s family. We have elder brothers and sisters in the faith who have gone before us, and they are still connected to us. From their place in heaven they pray for us.

This solemnity is a great reminder of the destiny to which we are called. Whether we make it there is our choice. So, let us do all we can to cooperate with God’s grace, so that one day, we too will join that great company of Saints who sing God’s praise around His throne for all eternity.