November begins with a special celebration: the Feast of All Saints, sometimes called All Saints Day. This Catholic holy day, celebrated each year on Nov. 1, calls us to remember throughout the month of November (and all year long) that we can honor those Christians who have died and now stand before the throne of God, praying and interceding for us.
We can learn much from the saints. Their lives of virtue and goodness are models for us to admire. St. Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews (13:7), told us to “remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.” That means they are good role models for how we can live in a way that is pleasing to God.
The saints, by their holiness, have merited heaven, where they are close to Our Lord. They can add their prayers to ours as we petition God with our needs.
It is important to remember that we honor saints, but we never worship them. Worship is for Our Lord only, but we can honor those holy men and women and boys and girls who have gone before us. When we pray, we ask the saints to intercede for us. We pray with them, not to them. It is like asking a friend to pray for us, or like offering our prayers for a friend in need.
While we know the names of many saints – for example, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Michael, etc. – there are countless saints in heaven whose name is known only to God. That is why in addition to particular saint’s feast days – for example, St. Valentine on Feb. 14 or St. Patrick on March 17 – we have All Saints Day so that we can honor them all.
All the saints in heaven – those whose names we know and those whose names we will never know –by their holy lives, have earned a place in heaven, where they are close to Our Lord. It should fill us with comfort to know that the holy men and women and boys and girls who have gone to be with God have not forgotten about those of us who wish to join them one day. They enjoy the glory of God and they act as our advocates before His throne.
St. Dominic, as he was dying, told his brothers, “Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death, and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.” St. Therese of Lisieux promised to “spend my heaven in doing good on earth.”
All Saints Day is followed on Nov. 2 by All Souls Day. The two holy days should not be confused. All Saints Day is dedicated to those already in heaven and All Souls Day is dedicated to those who have died and are in need of our prayers in order to get to heaven.
In honoring the saints, we are reminded that all of us – those in heaven and those of us on earth – are members of one Church community united to Christ. We are all brothers and sisters because of our shared faith in Jesus. Celebrating, remembering and honoring the saints can inspire us to imitate their lives. They help us on our spiritual journey toward heaven because they show us that it is not impossible to live good and holy lives pleasing to God. They also remind us of the good things God has done for them, and promises to do for us.
The latest local and global Catholic news delivered to your inbox.