Today, the solemnity of All Saints, we recall all men and women who lived lives of holiness and are now sharing God’s glory in heaven. Some of these havebeen officially canonized by the Church – most have not.
Often we think of the saints as a sort of exclusive club for a few special souls. But this is not the way they are described in the book of Revelation “a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” God wants all of us to be saints. Not just Popes or nuns, martyrs or miracle workers. Sanctity is open to everyone. Today we honor those thousands of saints who lived simple, hidden lives.
This idea of hidden, simple holiness reminds us of the greatest saint of all time, our Blessed Mother Mary. Between the Annunciation and the Assumption there was very little remarkable about her life. While it is true she had the special grace of being conceived without original sin – her day to day life was not different from her contemporaries. She cared for her home, washed her baby, fetched water, and prepared food just like all the other women in Nazareth.
Mary’s life was very simple – probably like the hundreds of unknown mothers and grandmothers who we celebrate today on all saints day. What makes them unique is not what they did but how they did it – What Made her special is that she did everything with Jesus and for Jesus. This is the key to holiness: that whatever we do, we do with Jesus and for Jesus.
Mary can teach us this secret. She can teach us how to always be with Jesus – to contemplate his presence. She can teach us to do everything for Jesus – to “do what he tells you” to persevere up until the cross. Next to the Holy Spirit, Mary is the greatest guide we can have in the spiritual life.
This is part of the logic of the devotion of the Consecration to Mary. We know that Mary loves Jesus better than we do or ever could. So instead of trying to figure out the spiritual life on our own, we place our prayers, our works, our dreams in the hands of Mary. We ask that she may guide our prayers, words, actions and ideas to be pleasing to Jesus. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta saw the consecration as an exchange of hearts – we offer our heart to Mary and Mary gives us her heart in return. We then are able to love Jesus with the heart of Mary.
Today we remember the thousands, millions of holy men and women who have lived from every continent and every century of human life. They were men and women like us – who loved and served Jesus in an extraordinary way. Our goal is to be one of them – to be like them. Our Blessed Mother can help us! I invite each of you to join us for the consecration to Mary on Tuesday December 8th the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Each person making the consecration is invited to prepare privately in advance – books are available after Mass which offer a personal retreat – brief meditations for each day in preparation for the consecration. In order to finish by the Immaculate conception, one must begin this devotion on Thursday 5th. Making this consecration together as a parish is a beautiful way for us to begin the year of mercy.