Glory to Jesus Christ!
After last week’s remembrance of the Descent of the Most Holy Spirit at Pentecost, today the Church celebrates the memory of all the saints, showing us the action and fruits of the grace of that same Spirit, Who sanctified, enlightened, strengthened and glorified all the saints of Christ, even to this day.
The Holy and Life-Giving Spirit descended on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire. The same grace which enlightened the Apostles, continues to enlighten every Christian soul, effecting true conversion, elevating the human person to be an adopted child of the eternal God.
In reading the lives of the saints, we see that the action of the grace of God sometimes performs works which even will exceed the laws of nature – as we see in the strengthening the martyrs, and the miracles wrought by God through the instrumentation of the saints, especially those silent miracles of the conversion of the heart.
Today, as we remember and we honor the graces given to the saints of God, we thereby glorify the Giver, God Himself, Who is marvelous in His saints, because the saints through His grace bear in themselves the seal of the perfection of the Heavenly Father.
Today’s glorification of all saints is also done for the purpose of paying due tribute to those holy saints who, having received a great honour from God, were faithful servants in those things which they had received. Of these saints, of course, many are known to us by name, but many, many, many more remain unknown to us. Today they are all honoured, each one, for not a one is lost. In this the Holy Church shows the unity of all who are sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
In reading the lives of the saints we see that they, while they were still living on earth, with God’s help, they were victorious in their struggles against the passions of fallen human nature. Their example to us is a help in our struggle with temptation. They, like elder brothers and sisters, seem to instruct us, in word and deed. Today as we remember their struggles, they who are victorious urge us to live for God – in purity and prayer and virtue. For without this, whatever we do, whatever we acquire, if we have not God and His grace, it is nothing. The one needful thing is the salvation of our souls and the attainment of the Kingdom of God.
Today, along with the remembrance of all saints corporately, let us remember our own patron saints, those saints whose names we received at Holy Baptism. For in our patron we have a defender and guide on the path of truth and of and living the Christian life.
Of course, the light which illumines this path of truth, and the the very source of the Christian life is none othen than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who has His purpose to lead us to Himself and unite us with Himself through the grace of the Holy and Life-Giving Spirit. In the Gospel, the Lord calls us to confess – to tell the whole world that we are Christians – that we belong to Him. And we must not only say it with our mouth, but we must live in this world in a Christian way, and not according to the sinful laws and customs of the world. We may be surrounded by sin – and indeed we are – but we must live our life in a fundamentally different way.
If we humble ourselves before God, if we daily take up our crosses, and if we follow Him, then we will make an advance in holiness.
The Saints who have gone before us, when they had to choose between earthly considerations and Christ, did not hesitate to choose Christ, and to confess Christ, so Christ also confessed them before His Father.
Holiness, the life of holiness, this is what makes the saint.
The apostle Saint Peter tells us us: According to Him that hath called you, the Holy one, be you also in all conversation holy. (I Pet 1: 15).
The call to holiness leads us to change our sinful life by conforming it to the image of Christ, Who called us.
We may ask: Is it even possible for us to be holy when we are so entangled in the web of this vain and earthly life? Every day we walk about, stumbling, constantly falling back into sin.
Not only is it possible, by the grace of God and none other, but it is necessary. The prime condition is that we never, ever, become discouraged, and that we never, ever cease the struggle. For in the struggle itself is the way of holiness. We can not get to the top of a mountain by one jump. But if we strive and steadily go there step by step – we already stand on the path of grace.
And remember that on every path, in every activity, prayer is to be raised up, prayer which gives strength to work in the glory of God.
This is the way that all the saints came to the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the way of fulfilling the commandments of God, the path of repentance and prayer.
With all zeal, together with all saints let us pray and ask God to strengthen us in faith, to teach us how to live virtuously, and ultimately to grant us His salvation.