Who Are Our Saints?
As we move through October more quickly than I'd like, I'm looking at Halloween decorations and thinking that by now everyone must know the connection between Halloween and All Saints/All Souls day, right?
If you don't, simply, quickly, All Hallow's Eve, the vigil for All Saints day, with the addition of folk customs and local traditions over time morphed into the crazy, fun, candy filled night we call Halloween. If you've seen the movie "Coco", you may have recognized that some of the customs that appear in a celebration for The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) are similar in many ways to our Halloween.
There's much fun in this celebration, and for many, as seen in "Coco" a real and deep desire to remember and honor our ancestors. If you haven't seen this particular Disney movie, it is both moving and beautiful.
So who are our ancestors in faith? Whose shoulders do we stand on? Who do we celebrate when we remember All Saints and All Souls Day? Do we still need saints today?
What do you think?
Church history has taught us that saints arise at our most troubled times, when the world is in darkness and needs to be called back into the light. During times of war and revolution great souls have arisen to give their people hope, to remind them of God's faithful love.
This Sunday the church officially recognizes one such hero: we will canonize Blessed Oscar Romero, the Bishop Martyr of El Salvador. Hopefully we will hear much about him at Mass this weekend and there's a great bio-pic starring Raul Julia that you can watch. A brief synopsis of his amazing life would look something like this:
Bishop of El Salvador--unaware of extreme poverty of his people--living a life of church power broker in a third world country--suddenly shocked when one of his priests (Rutilio Grande, SJ) was murdered for teaching the Gospel message of justice and peace for all God's people--suddenly became aware of the terrible injustices the government was inflicting on his people--began to speak up for human rights for the Salvadoran people--was murdered by the army while celebrating Mass (at the consecration!) for speaking the Gospel.
St Oscar, as well as Fr Grande, and the four women religious and lay workers who were killed, the other Jesuits and their staff, all these people were murdered for believing in the Gospel of Jesus. This isn't ancient history, it happened in the 1980's. Less than 50 years ago.
Should it frighten us to think that we are called to sainthood as well? No it shouldn't be frightening at all. Living holiness is a matter of living authentically who God has created us to be. For Oscar, it meant learning about the lives of his people and speaking in their defense. For you or I it might mean treating someone politely in a conversation when we disagree and believing we can still be friends despite the disagreement. Perhaps for us it may mean treating our elderly, ill parent with love and care no matter how many times she asks the same question. Could it mean teaching our NYC children how to treat the unfortunate homeless on the street with dignity and respect?
Not all of us are called to be holy in big flashy ways. Like one of our newer saints (Mother Teresa)said so often: Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
So it is with sanctity, holiness, we can all be holy in every day ways. Every day.
As we celebrate with our church the life of St Oscar Romero, let us commit ourselves this week to finding the everyday little moments of holiness in our lives and celebrate those as well. Amen.