Why does the Church take a special day to liturgically acknowledge and celebrate the lives of the saints? We mark the solemnity of All Saints this November 1, 2012, as we do every year. To answer the question we posed at the start, we share with you a very instructive, loving and practical spiritual reflection by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope says, “Praying for those who have gone before us drew our thinking to the communion of saints and the spiritual exchange of gifts. Then you will ask: What will this mean, then? Is that not a nonsensical religious commercialism? The question became sharper, as I remember, because one spoke in fact of the treasury of the Church, which consisted of the good deeds of the saints. What is that supposed to mean? Must not every man be responsible for himself? What use should the possible good works of another be for me? So we ask because we still live in the narrow individualism of modern times, despite all socialist ideas.
“In fact, however, no man is closed in on himself. We all live interdependently, not only materially, but also spiritually, and morally. First let us make that clear negatively. There are men who not only destroy themselves but also corrupt others with them and leave behind powers of destruction that drive whole generations into nihilism. If we think of the great seducers of our century, we know how real this is. The negation of the one becomes a contagious disease that carries others away. But, God be praised, this is not only true in the negative. There are people who leave behind, so to speak, a surplus of love, of perseverance in suffering, of honor and truth that captures others and sustains them. In the innermost recesses of existence, there really is such a thing as taking another’s place. The entire mystery of Christ rests on this…”
“In the spiritual realm everything belongs to everyone. There is no private property. The good of another becomes mine, and mine becomes his. Everything comes from Christ, but because we belong to him, what is ours becomes his and attains healing power. That is what is meant by talk of the treasury of the Church: the good deeds of the saints. To pray for an indulgence means to enter into this spiritual communion of gifts and to put oneself at its disposal.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Magnificat, November, 2011)
At a time in Ontario and the rest of Canada, when Christians are battling even their own governments in order to live the faith without compromise, the Pope’s message is a timely reminder that we can look to the saints for help and guidance in order to use that “surplus of love” to continue to serve and praise Christ. Couldn’t we also use that “extra love” to start during this Year of Faith to lean more about the lives of the saints? After all, they are the ones who already share that eternal culture of life and love. Have a peaceful All Saints Day!