THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS
Today we celebrate the great multitude of saints who have gone before us, who are now living, and who are to come. We celebrate the saints who live in Christ because they did not fear to die with Him. We celebrate those blessed men and women who conquered the world and conquered themselves. The saints of the first three centuries of the Church were principally martyrs, and the Feast of All Saints was originally the feast of the dedication of the Pantheon, the Roman temple of Agrippa that had been previously been dedicated to the pagan gods. In the first decade of the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV translated the relics of several martyrs from the catacombs to the Pantheon and on May 14, A.D. 610 dedicated it as a new basilica to St. Mary and the Martyrs. As several churches commemorated All Saints Day on other days of the year, Pope Gregory IV fixed the date of the feast to November 1 in A.D. 835.
We see in our readings this great multitude of saints but, what is more important, we see what makes them great in the sight of the Lord. We see with St. John the Revelator those marked with the Tau on their foreheads, of every nation and tribe, of every people and tongue, standing before the throne of God with the Lamb in their midst. Pride of place goes to the martyrs, who have washed their bloodstained robes not in water, but in the Lamb’s own blood, and which have become dazzling white. This is the eternal blessing of those who seek the face of the Lord, of those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are meek, who hunger for righteousness, who bring peace in troubled times, who are persecuted, who are pure of heart. They stand before God. They see Him as He is. They become His children, the sons and daughters of light. They arise in the likeness of Christ Jesus, His only begotten Son.
The setting of John’s vision is the heavenly liturgy, of which we play a part in the Mass today. Let us approach the throne and worship God with Mary, with all the angels and saints, with our brothers and sisters in this great multitude, with those that have gone before us, and those that stand with us, and those that are to come: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to Our God forever and ever. Amen.”