It’s too bad that All Saints Day comes but once a year.
It’s too bad, because its rarity distorts our perspective. The Church year is filled with solemnities, feasts, memorials and optional memorials of individual, canonized saints. Recent popes, starting especially with St. John Paul II, were active in promoting the cause of saints to demonstrate the ubiquity of sanctity, especially in contemporary times. All Saints Day serves as a solemnity to commemorate all those saints — the vast majority — who are in heaven, albeit not canonized by the Church.
The danger is that we can think of All Saints Day merely as a kind of “grab bag” feast. It isn’t. It is the feast par excellence of the Church.
“Do you think I’m a saint?” ask Catholics sometimes? No, but God not only wants — he expects — you to be one. Becoming a saint is not some “special reward” in the sense it should be something rare: the Eucharist is not rare, but it is the consummate special gift. If you don’t become a saint, your life was a failure.
So Nov. 1 should remind us: the call to holiness is universal. “Be ye holy, for I, the Lord, am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). “You shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Vatican II reminded us that holiness is not some special characteristic reserved for priests and religious: “all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his own way, to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect” (Lumen Gentium, No. 11).
Ven. Tomás Morales (1908-1994), who himself is a candidate for the altar, sought to make every Catholic aware of that call to holiness. He founded two secular institutes: the Crusaders of Mary for men and for women to help them grow in holiness. The Militia of Mary movement sought to make young people aware of their call to holiness. Books like his Forja de hombres (The Forge of Men) sought to provide the vision of a spiritual path for people.
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