Sunday, November 1, 2009  Today we honor those saints who have no feast day. There are billions of saints in Heaven. Some of these people came from this church. They are our relatives and friends.

Homily, Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fr. Ed Oen, C.PP.S.

On this Feast of All Saints, we rejoice and honor that great power that St. John explains this morning from the Book of Revelation. John says, “I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel.”


One hundred forty-four thousand is a perfect number multiplied by a perfect number multiplied by 1,000. That number is not to be taken as a literal number but one as symbolical. Twelve was a perfect number for the Jewish people.  Twelve times twelve would be a sacred number and then multiplied by 1,000 – you begin to get the idea of the tremendous number of people in heaven.

When we think of the saints, we often thing of the 40,000 canonized saints. Only 200 of those canonized saints have made it into the church calendar. We celebrate the feast of St. Jasper or St. Thomas Aquinas. There is just not room to celebrate the thousands and thousands of others during the church year. There are seven or eight, perhaps nine, saints canonized from America; they appear on our calendar but not on European calendars or anywhere else. It is the same with Europeans and other countries; they have certain saints that are celebrated on their church calendar but do not appear on our calendar. My patron saint, St. Edward, is celebrated on October 15, however, St. Edward only appears on the calendar for Great Britain because he was from Britain. After Vatican II, some of our saints were dropped from the calendar, e.g., St. Christopher and St. Valentine. We celebrate the Feast of St. Jasper, the founder of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, on October 21.

Today we honor those saints who have no feast day. There are billions of saints in Heaven.  Some of these people came from this church. They are our relatives and friends. These are the people that we are honoring today. They are people who were not recognized or canonized by the Catholic Church. They had their own personalities; some were shy, some were out-spoken. Some were patient; others were impatient. Some were judgmental; others were no so. Some were leaders; others were followers. There were all kinds of people. They studied; they worked; they prayed; some played sports – the same things that we do today. Some were farmers; others were teachers or business-people. They were normal; some committed sin. Lucky for us is that God loves sinners. Those people are in heaven because they have asked God’s forgiveness. The people who are in hell have not asked for God’s forgiveness.

The saints struggled with the same temptations that we have today. The saints continued to do the things they loved to do, right up to the time of their deaths. I have been in hospitals; people have come in – they keeled over with their bib overalls on, with a heart attack. On man was asked, “If you were playing in a ball game, and if you were told you had 15 minutes to live, what would you do?  He replied, “I’d continue to play ball; that’s what I like to do – right up to the time of my death.”

I was watching a documentary on Florida, and watched old codgers in the 80’s or 90’s playing ball. The commentator asked someone if anyone ever died play ball. And the reply was, “Of course – someone gets to second base and is out of air, and dies – that happens at least once a week.”  But he was doing something he enjoyed, all the way up to his death.

There’s a story about a man who died. Jesus met him in Heaven and embraced him. He saw people staring at him. One was his neighbor who used to let his cows out into his fields. There was another man who had cheated him. He asked Jesus what they were staring at him? Jesus answered, “They didn’t think you’d get here.”

On this feast day, we ask God to forgive us. Today, we thank God for having our friends and relatives in heaven.

 

 

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