The National Catholic Register
Heaven Isn’t Too Far Away
All Saints Day Reminds Us What’s at Stake — and Within Reach
BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN
October 26-November 1, 2008 Issue | Posted 10/21/08 at 9:48 AM
All Saints Day, a solemn feast of the Church, is practically as old as the saints themselves. Its roots reach to the fourth century, when the Church began celebrating a common day for all martyrs. In the eighth and ninth centuries, Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV set the celebration for Nov. 1 and extended it to commemorate not just the martyred, but also all persons, known and unknown, whose sanctity in this life assured them a place in heaven for all eternity.
Members of the “Church Militant” — that would be us — can thus be assured that the “Church Triumphant” is praying for our salvation with the power of the full beatific vision before them.
Maybe even more important, their feast reminds us of the Church’s unmistakable nudge to our consciences: If those everyday folks could do it, so can we. “‘All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity,’ the Catechism reminds us (No. 2013). “All are called to holiness …”
“When we think of saints, we tend to think of the greatest ones — martyrs, mystics, founders of religious orders,” says author Thomas Craughwell. “Few of us are going to do what they did. But heaven is crowded with saints we do not know, ordinary people who became saints.” Craughwell’s books include Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil-Worshippers Who Became Saints (Doubleday, 2006) and This Saint’s for You!: 300 Heavenly Allies Who Will Change Your Life (Quirk Books, 2007); he’s also online at TomCraughwell.com. He points to the heroic holiness of unknowns such as St. Zita, a 13th-century housekeeper — and to the often-overlooked humanity of the most celebrated.
St. Joseph, for example, is one of the most important figures in salvation history. Yet, Craughwell points out, “He’s not a martyr or a mystic. He doesn’t say a single word in the Gospels, and he performs no miracles. He’s a family man, a working man — but he’s completely faithful in obeying the will of God.”
Easier said than done? Sure. But absolutely doable, as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta daily reminded us by her words and her actions. Catholic writer and speaker Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, who knew Mother Teresa as a friend, says she often quotes a slice of simple wisdom that the saintly nun frequently repeated: “Holiness is not the luxury of a few. It is everyone’s duty: yours and mine.”
Cooper O’Boyle, author of two new books on Catholic mothering and homemaking (both published by the Register’s sister company Circle Press; see CirclePress.org and DonnaCooperOboyle.com), stresses that she strives to live Blessed Teresa’s message not only in her work, but also in her vocation as a wife and mother... (Continued here)