The Heroes of Faith

By Matthew August

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” – Heb 12:1

On Nov. 1, Catholics around the world celebrate All Saints Day. We not only remember those holy lives that have been canonized, but also those who are unknown to the Church who have attained Heaven. Perhaps we’ve crossed paths with these extraordinary people.

If I were to summarize the meaning of All Saints Day in one word, it would be family.

In the Catholic Church, we have the honor to look at the lives of the saints who came before us. They ran the race and have won the Heart of Christ, and from their place in Heaven, they can intercede for us. They cheer for us as we on earth endure the same struggles and suffering to attain eternal life.

In those moments of our lives when we are in pain and feel as though we can’t take another step, we must remember the “great cloud of witnesses” that looks down upon us and cheers for us to keep going, to not give up hope, to run the race and win the fight.

As Catholics, we have been baptized into a Holy Family. Not only is God our Father, and He wants us to succeed and win this fight, but He’s also given us a family. A family that loves us. A family full of holy men and women who are so individually different and unique.

So many people believe that holiness requires us to force ourselves into an exact mold of monotony. This could not be further from the truth. There is an intense variety of differing personalities and backgrounds when we look at the saints. 

Then what is it that these people have in common? The answer is they have all allowed Christ to radiate His Being through them. 

The perfection of God is so overwhelmingly powerful and mysterious. It is for this reason that it requires a variety of hosts to be fully expressed. No one man can express the full magnificence of God. However, each saint expresses some small portion of God’s wonders. 

Catholic churches around the world have beautiful stained glass windows. When the light penetrates the glass, it emanates a gorgeous array of colors. However, without the light, it is only a dark abyss. Each of us is a completely unique stained glass window, and Christ is the powerful bright light. If we can allow His love to penetrate us, it will explode and reflect into a multitude of different colors.

Looking at the variety of beauty in the differing colors will give us a hint of God’s complete magnificence.

The saints who have gone before us can help us to reflect God’s beauty. It’s important to look at the saints as models, but All Saints Day reminds us that it does not stop there. We must also remember that these people are our family. They are still alive and present to us and our needs.

Let us not hesitate to reach out to our family when we are in need. They will help us to embody the image of Christ and cast His magnificent light and beauty on the whole world.

“Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus! Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine: it will be You shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You in the way You love best: by shining on those around me. Let me preach You without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.” St. John Henry Newman

All the saints of Heaven, our Holy Family, pray for us.

Photo: "The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs," probably by Fra Angelico (public domain).

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