By Mary Lou Rosien
At the beginning of November, we celebrate the feasts of All Souls and All Saints. Every day is some saint's feast day, so what makes these days different? Answer: They are feast days for the rest of us.
How many times have you heard someone remark, "Oh, he or she is a saint. When they die they will go straight to heaven"? Then there is grandma, grandpa or Aunt Sally, a person so influential in a particular person's life, so good and holy, that you just know they went to heaven when they died. This is their feast day. All saints, named by the Church or not, are part of the Communion of Saints. We are blessed to be a part of the larger group of saints and during the Consecration, we believe that we are all transported to the heavenly Mass.
For a little historical background:
Nov. 2 was chosen in order that the memory of all the holy spirits -- both of the saints in heaven and of the souls in purgatory should be celebrated on two successive days, and in this way to express the Christian belief in the Communion of Saints. Since the feast of All Saints had already been celebrated on Nov. 1 for centuries, the memory of the departed souls in purgatory was placed on the following day.
Think of it, all our loved ones who have gone on to heaven or purgatory before us are present with us at that time! I was struck by this thought yesterday at Mass. Before my mother was born, her parents gave birth to a baby girl. They named her Jeanne and they could not have felt more blessed. Sadly, at about a week old, their precious baby girl passed away.
Their hearts were broken and they prayed for God to ease their pain. My grandfather in particular desired another child. He prayed constantly for the Lord to bless them again. One day, following a pilgrimage for this intention, he found the stem of a Rosary. He took this as a sign from God that he had been heard. He was correct in this interpretation, and my mother was born about nine months later. Born on the feast of St. Peter, they named her Petronilla Rose Mary Ann.
My mother has always missed the sister she never knew. I could never really understand that, but looking at my mom during Mass, I was struck by how real this sister was to her. My mother calls her 'Baby Jeanne' and will often joke that she asked her baby sister to keep her company as she cleaned that day. Suddenly, Baby Jeanne was real to me. We have a saint in heaven to help us. My aunt was baptized and she was completely innocent, unable to sin, so of course she is a saint. What a wonderful realization that was for me.
So this November, I will celebrate differently. I will ask my aunt Baby Jeanne to pray with us and for us. I will rejoice that we have a family saint in heaven that can see the face of the Lord. I will look to her example of innocence and wait without anxiety for the time when I will meet her face to face. I will remember at the consecration that she is there, present with me and my mom. I will thank God for this.
For more information on the saints, consider author Theresa Doyle-Nelson's books, "Saints of the Bible" (OSV) and "More Saints of the Bible." God bless you and all of your family saints.
Mary Lou Rosien writes from outside Rochester, NY. She is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV) and, Catholic Family Boot Camp (Bezalel Books). Check out her website, or contact her at http://www.catholicfamilybootcamp.com/.
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