Sunday, 2 November 2008

All Saints, Shaftesbury

When most of us think of saints we can tend to think of rather unusual people. People who performed miracles, saw visions, and so on. But what we celebrate today, on the feast of All Saints, should remind us that the truth is that most saints are ordinary, normal people, people like you and me.
Saints only become extraordinary by their good lives, by their holiness, and because of the glory that awaits them in heaven as a result of it.

When we think of the most famous saints here in our own England, we naturally think of the martyrs of the ‘Reformation’. In some countries most of their saints, especially their martyrs, were priests. But one of the most glorious things about the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales is that they came from every walk of life, every sort of social position or job. Men and women, laypeople and priests, lawyers, housewives and doctors. People from the big city in London, people from the country in Dorset. People who ruled the land like, and people who worked on it.

They are most famous to us because of the glorious end they gave to their lives in martyrdom, but they witness to the fact that everyone is called to the same vocation to holiness, the same loyalty to our Catholic Faith in God. The glorious death of a martyr rarely springs from out of a vacuum, it comes at the end of life that has dedicated itself to God –after all, it was the very faithfulness of that lifestyle that led to people martyr them.

The fact that the martyrs of our country came from every walk of life shows us that Catholicism once filled the whole culture of England, and it was only removed by force. If it filled the whole of our society before, then it can do so again, and it can do so in us.

Jesus Christ came to call sinners because he knew that each and every one of us is a sinner (except for his Immaculately Conceived Mother Mary). What he calls us to be is the opposite of being a sinner: being a saint. A call addressed to every human being, something that is possible for everyone -regardless of what they do in life. With the grace that Jesus Christ gives us from the Cross, we can all repent of our sins and live a life of holiness.

To live a life of holiness we must make every aspect of our life holy. We must be able to offer every single thing we do to God. We must sanctify every moment of our day. Our work, our rest, our joys, and our sorrows. We must welcome God into the whole of our lives, and never allow ourselves to be comfortable with habits of sin, even if they only seem to be in certain parts of our life. God made the whole of life, and we can enjoy and offer the whole of it back to him –but only if we avoid sin.

When we think of the feast of All Saints we should be thinking of ourselves, or at least of what we can be. Because you and I can be saints, we can have glory of heaven, we can be holy, we can have the happiness of fulfilment. This feast day of All saints is a day that can belong to each of us.

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