All Saints Day
November 1st is All Saints Day. This ceremonial event is a day that we praise all the saints -- known & unknown. All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, or Hallowmas, is a Christian celebration in honour of all the saints from Christian history. In Western Christianity, it is observed on November 1st by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic churches observe All Saints Day on the first Sunday following Pentecost.
The Christian festival of All Saints Day comes from a conviction that there is a spiritual connection between those in Heaven and on Earth. In Catholic tradition, the holiday honours all those who have passed on to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a national holiday in numerous historically Catholic countries. In Methodist tradition, All Saints Day relates to giving God earnest gratitude for the lives and deaths of his saints, remembering those who were well-known and not. Additionally, individuals throughout Christian history are celebrated, such as Peter the Apostle and Charles Wesley, as well as people who have personally guided one to faith in Jesus, such as one's relative or friend.
In addition to weekly worship gatherings, "All Saints Day" annually reminds us of our connectedness as Christians. It's commemorated every November 1st.
All Saints Day, observed on November 1, gives us the opportunity to honour the multitudes of Christians who are in heaven yet are not on either the canonised saint list or the liturgical calendar. But it also provides us the chance to reflect on just what holiness is and who is called to sanctity.
All Saints’ Day is one day out of the year that we pick to celebrate the lives of all of the saints. So who are the saints? Well, saints are people just like each one of us. Saints include every single person who is living with God in heaven. They are people who decided to use their talents to make the world a better place. They are people who made mistakes, but weren’t afraid to ask for forgiveness. They are people who took care of others and strived for peace. Saints are inspiring people who took Jesus’ message in the Gospel today to heart: “Blessed are the clean of heart... the merciful... the peacemakers... they who hunger and thirst for righteousness… for they will see God. They will be called God’s children. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” Saints are people who thanked God for offering them the gift of heaven by making the most of their lives and being an inspiration to other people.
There are over a thousand people that the Catholic Church has canonised as saints. These saints have lives that were really inspirational, lives that we should really look up to and try to imitate. We can also pray to the saints, asking them to pray for us! To learn about their amazing stories, there are many books published and places to look them up.
While agreeing that everyone who is baptised and believes is a saint, we also recognise that there are those in whom the image and holiness of Christ is abundantly manifested. These we boldly label as “St. so-and-so.”
I say “boldly,” because calling someone a saint in this regard is more than an honorary title—it is a powerful proclamation about God’s ability to take someone “dead in their sins” (Eph. 2:1) and make them alive in Christ.
In other words, to venerate a saint and observe his or her feast day is nothing more than to venerate the all-surpassing power of Christ himself.
This is why we observe the feast days of saints and a day like All Saints. It reminds us of our own “sainthood” given to us in baptism. It calls to mind Christ’s work among our brothers and sisters departed this life in holiness. And it even serves as an invitation to us to “go and do likewise.”
As the collect for All Saints’ Day puts it, we remember the saints and pray that God will grant us “grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living.” By grace alone the saints have embodied divine love, so much so that we can hold them up as role models for discipleship. Their life and witness calls us to continue progressing along the path of perfection in Christ.
If we do this, we too might be remembered as “St. so-and-so.”