Pope Francis not too long ago spoke about the saints next door, or those examples of holiness in our lives that live near us. I began to think about some people in my own lives who are saints. One of those was a priest who taught me in the seminary. I’ve always been an early morning person, and as a part of waking up early in the morning I would try and pray for an hour before the day started. Sometimes I got there as early as 5 am. However there was a priest who was without fail was up before me. He was up so early he already prayed an hour before I was even beginning my holy hour. This priest too was an example of virtue to all of us; he would be in the gym almost daily working out and staying healthy. What was amazing was the priest was in his mid-80s and lived this lifestyle.
Today we celebrate All Saints Day. We as a Church venerate holy men and women who have gone before us who are examples to us of the faith. St. John speaks to us about the multitudes who were around the throne from every tongue race and nation. These are the saints who have died in the peace of Christ and are now in God’s heavenly kingdom. We pray to them regularly, they hear our prayers and lift them to heaven.
We also hear Jesus give us the beatitudes, what is common among the saints is that they lived out the beatitudes in their own lives. They were poor in spirit; some were persecuted even martyred for their faith. Some hungered and thirsted for righteousness. They are examples to us of great holiness and faith, and they are worthy of our imitation, and we, in a way hope to become like them one day.
However, what can’t be forgotten is that the Saints are not the only ones who are examples to us of holiness. Pope Francis again reminds us that saints could be our next-door neighbors. People who live out their daily lives with faith and trust in God.
Again, I think of that priest who was up early in the morning to pray, who worked out every day and was an example of holiness in so many other ways too. However, he is not the only one who is an example of holiness. I remember in one of my previous assignments, one of the more active parishioners was a father and had a few children. He, too, worked in a chemical plant and worked long hours. Some of you may work in a plant and know the schedule and demands that come with that work. Despite his crazy schedule he would still go to events with his kids; he was still heavily involved at Church. He was living out his vocation to be a father and husband, and this was an example of holiness.
Hopefully, all of us can see examples of holiness in our lives, in the people around us. It may be in a friend who has to care for his or her aging parents and sacrifices so much to care for them. Maybe it’s the young college student who is living their faith despite the strong pressure from the culture not to. Holiness can be found in all the people we come in touch with.
I hope we also realize that we are all called to be saints, as well. Ultimately, we are called to be in union with God in heaven and be with Him for all eternity. However, we too can be those examples of holiness to others, living our lives to the best that we can — making God a priority in our lives so that we too can be those saints next door.
All Saints day is not only about those we name Saint so and so, but it is also about all those unnamed saints who are now in heaven praising God. What we too can celebrate is that hopefully, our loved ones too are saints in heaven enjoying God’s presence. They were examples to us of holiness in this life, and now they enjoy the vision of God in heaven. As we continue our journey with the Lord may we look for those people who are examples of holiness and strive to be holier ourselves so that we can see God face to face in heaven.