The Saints Inspire Us

User’s Guide to Sunday, Nov. 1, the Solemnity of All Saints

Clockwise from top left: Francis de Sales, Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Thérèse and Thomas More show what a life lived for God and others looks like.
Clockwise from top left: Francis de Sales, Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Thérèse and Thomas More show what a life lived for God and others looks like. (photo: Public domain and Register files)

Sunday, Nov. 1, is the Solemnity of All Saints. Mass Readings: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1B-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12A.

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints. We celebrate the saints with this special feast for their response to the Lord’s call to live the beatitudes we hear in the Gospel today. Blessed indeed are the “clean of heart, for they will see God.” In the first reading from Revelation we learn that “salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” 

The saints understand the throne to be the crucifix and the Lamb is Christ Jesus himself. They keep their eyes on the Lord, for, as the Psalmist says today, they “long to see [the Lord’s] face.” 

Father Hans Urs von Balthazar wrote once that “in modern times, theology and sanctity have become divorced, to the great harm of both.” Theology, he said, ought to be a reflection on holiness and lived out of holiness. He wrote that we must turn to the lives of the saints, who offer us “a new type of conformity to Christ inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore a new illustration of how the gospel is to be lived” (see Two Sisters in the Spirit: Thérèse of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity pp. 25-26). Thus, the saints show us that today’s Gospel, the beatitudes, is supposed to be lived in this world.

The saints are not drawn out of this world exactly, but rather deeper into it, to see with the eyes of Christ, judge with his mind, and act with his heart. They have their attention on the things above to show us where we ought to strive here below. 

St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps the most popular saint of all time, had a vision that was not downward at the injustice around him, but up, gazing upon the crucifix of San Damiano. His embrace of the leper and of poverty was the result of his desire to be closer to Christ Jesus in the poor. 

St. Thomas More, who is known almost exclusively for having lost his head for disagreeing with an earthly king, was a holy man before his death, dedicating himself to service of the heavenly King in the poor. When a woman in his village went into labor, he would stay up all night, praying for her until news came of the delivery. He would then visit the family with gifts. 

St. Francis de Sales tells us that the laity can pursue holiness, or “the devout life,” in the midst of their work. St. Frances of Rome, a wife and mother, once tried to sit down to pray but was interrupted by her husband. She sat down a second time and was again interrupted. This happened five times in total. The last time she sat down, the antiphon she was to read had miraculously changed from black ink to gold. The Lord rewarded her because she had been true to her vocation as a wife and mother, sacrificing her prayer time to serve the poor in her home.

Today we celebrate the many saints, known and unknown, who inspire us like these. May we learn to read the book of their lives so as to live the Gospel that says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

Deacon Omar Gutierrez is

the president and

co-founder of the 

Evangelium Institute.

In Advent, we await the coming of Jesus at Christmastime.

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