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What is All Saint’s Day?


All Saint’s Day is a Catholic Christian Holiday that occurs annually on November 1. For Catholics, this is considered a Holy Day of Obligation (that means “Get Thee to Church!”) But what is All Saint’s Day?

What is a Saint?

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Pope John Paul II handed out canonizations like Oprah hands out cars at Christmas. During his 26-year reign as Pope, he canonized 426 Saints! That’s just over 16 saints per year, on average. When the Church officially recognizes someone who performed at least 2 verifiable miraculous works during their lives, they are (posthumously) officially included in the canon (list) of saints in the Church. That’s how someone becomes a saint.

A saint is someone who, despite all odds being against them, lives out the Gospel in their lives. Saint Mother Teresa never felt the presence or joy of God in her life, but she yearned for it and strived to meet the needs of the poorest in the small communities in India. She felt called by Christ to serve the poorest of the poor and the neglected. She spent her life in service of others, and was canonized in 2016. The most recently canonized Saint, Oscar Romero, was highly controversial. A liberation theologist, Romero was a warrior for social justice, and believed in bringing down the oppressors of nations and systems of injustice in our communities. He was assassinated in 1980 for speaking out against the violent government of his country, El Salvador.

According to the current Pope, Pope Francis, “Sanctity is for everyone”. Saints are not super heroes, but they are ordinary people who “followed God with all their heart… [saints] spent their lives in the service of others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace,” he continued: “To be a saint is not a privilege of a few… all of us in baptism have the inheritance of being able to become saints. Sanctity is a vocation for everyone.”

Everyone has the ability to be a saint-not only a select few. These saints that have been canonized are examples to all Christians of that for which we should strive: to put God first in our daily lives, regardless of consequence. If we live our lives this way, we will grow in holiness and in our faith.

Why Do We Celebrate All Saint’s Day?

During a Q/A session at a recent community Church meeting, a 4th grade girl asked the parish priest “Why do we have Mass?” He responded “God loves us very much. God loves you, and God loves me. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of how much we are loved. Some of us, like me, have to be reminded every day! When we gather together as one family at Mass, we remember how much God loves us, and we remember how we are called to love one another. It is important for us to remember that every week.”

As previously mentioned, All Saint’s Day is a “Holy Day of Obligation”. This is a strong suggestion that all Catholics get to Mass that day-even if it’s not a Sunday. When Catholics attend Mass on All Saint’s Day, they gather to remember that they are loved, and that they are called to love one another, but on All Saint’s Day, it goes deeper than that. Catholics are reminded to say “yes” to God’s call every single day, no matter what. As Pope Francis says, ALL are invited to sanctity. All are invited to respond to God by saying “Yes” in their lives! On All Saint’s Day this November 1, we are invited to put love first in our lives every day.

Saints and Children

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Children love stories of bravery, good triumphing over evil, and a little sword action is good, too. Children experience life through imagination and play, and All Saint’s Day is an excellent opportunity to help your children grow in their faith, and even experience their own holiness in their lives.

If you’d like to share with your children about saints, there are some excellent resources online to get started. For example, Christian Kids TV on YouTube is a fun way to teach your children about the lives of the saints. Loyola Press offers lesson plans and activities as well.

The most important thing to teach children about the saints is that they were just ordinary people. They had to wake up in the morning and brush their teeth. They had to be kind and respectful to their parents and friends. They had to stand up to bullies, and pick up trash they saw on the ground-even if it wasn’t theirs. Holiness is within reach if we help our children to realize that it is accessible through our every-day choices. We don’t have to have fancy names or wear fancy robes or clothing, we can make small choices every day that help to line our path to holiness, and by doing this, we can be saints, too!

Sources: Pope Francis: Sanctity is for Everyone, Saints are Not ‘Supermen’

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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