All Saints' Day
Today is Friday, the 1 November, All Saints’ Day.
The choir of Westminster Cathedral, directed by James O’Donnell, sing O quam gloriosum by Victoria: ‘How glorious is the kingdom, where all the saints rejoice with Christ.’ From its earliest days, the Church has recognised as its foundation stones those heroes of the faith whose lives have excited others to holiness and who, having entered into the glory of heaven, pray for and with all of us on earth. Celebrating the feast of All Saints' began in the fourth century. At first, it was observed on the Sunday after the feast of Pentecost; this was to link the disciples who received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the 'foundation of the Church, with those who were martyrs, giving their lives as witnesses for the faith. In the eighth century, a pope dedicated a chapel to All Saints in St Peter's at Rome on 1 November, and so people across the world began celebrating the day on the 1st of November. Every week there is at least one saint whose life can be celebrated when Christians come together for worship, but with only 365 days in the year, there are only a certain number we can remember individually. Today we celebrate the great cloud of witnesses who accompany us on our journey of faith. Today’s reading is from the Book of the Apocalypse.
Today we give thanks for a great multitude of women and men, who have gone before us in the way of faith. In the Bible passage we hear of the destiny of all who die in Christ; they go to that place where there is ‘no sorrow or pain’ and where they can worship God for all eternity.
All of us have been inspired on our Christian journeys by ‘ordinary’ men and women – the saints mentioned in today’s reading and commemorated in today’s feast. Who has inspired you; what captivated you about them? How did they reflect God’s love?
The saints reflected God in their own lives. Thinking now about yourself, how do you reflect God in your life? Is your life an ‘act of worship?’ As you listen again, remember one person, a saint or blessed, or ordinary person, who has inspired you in your life and faith.
What can you do to help others to reflect God in their lives and perhaps to take their place in that company of Saints?