This is a day in which we remember the thousands of canonized saints who made it – men and women, boys and girls just like us, who loved God more than anything and became holy through His grace.
And it is right that we remember them, because we admire them! Certainly we admire the sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who gave up his life for another man in Auschwitz. We admire the courage of St. Agnes, the twelve-year-old girl who would rather die in the Coliseum than worship the Emperor. We admire the prayerfulness of St. Therese of Lisieux, the zeal of St. Francis Xavier, the love of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
History is full of saints whose virtues shine forth as encouragements to us. But this is also a day to celebrate the millions upon millions of saints, for a saint is anyone who is in Heaven! Perhaps some of our ancestors – our great-grandfathers or great-aunts – are numbered among the blessed in Heaven. We may never know their names in this life, but we will know their names and their stories of holiness in the next.
And in that next life, when we all sit down at the Banquet Feast of the Lamb, we will hear stories. What stories we will hear! The martyrs will rise and tell of their glorious courage in the face of death. The virgins will then share their tender love for Jesus, their one and only Divine Spouse. The married couples will share the sanctifying power of the Sacrament of Matrimony; the young people will tell of their innocent faith that bought them the ticket to the Banquet of the Lamb. The missionaries will share exciting stories of preaching the Gospel in far-off lands, while the scholars will reveal how their study of truth led them to God.
And then – and then it will be our turn. They will turn to us and say, with wonder in their voice, “What was it like being a saint in the twenty-first century?” And Saint Francis will be in awe at us – you and I – for our courage in seeking holiness in this most difficult of times. St. Lawrence the Martyr will nod his head as we tell tales of facing rejection for the Faith. St. Faustina will be moved to tears to hear how God’s mercy is poured out upon us again and again.
And then – and then they will rise, our heroes in the Faith. They will rise to their feet and fill all of Heaven with the sound of applause and cheering and welcome, when St. Dominic gives you an embrace, when St. Claire invites you to sit by her, when Pope St. John Paul the Great says, “Welcome home, my friend.” And the Son of Man Himself will rise and place upon our heads the crown of righteousness, and our robes will be washed clean in His Blood.
For the memory of the saints which we celebrate on this day should stir us onward to join them in glory.