All Saints

Abbot Brendan Coffey OSB

As the seasons change and we move from autumn into winter the world of nature all around us begins to slow down. The days draw in, the leaves fall from the trees, the vegetation begins to die back and the temperatures start to fall. It’s entirely natural at such a moment of change for our thoughts to turn to the autumn and winter of our own days and reflect upon questions of life and death. The passing of Fr Placid last evening makes that even more vivid for us. Even before Christianity arrived on our shores our ancestors were asking these questions at this time of year, for the Lord God reveals his mystery in the world of nature if we are willing to open our eyes to see. This is a moment in the year when life and death touch and so it has always been a holy season.

At this time of year then we reflect on our beloved dead and on our ancestors in the faith, the saints in heaven whom we celebrate today. They are the throng of the heavenly host who are present with us in this place as we come to worship.

Is it not appropriate that so many saints are depicted in stained glass windows? For the saints are people who let the light of God’s Son shine through them. It doesn’t matter if they were a great Archbishop or Doctor, a civil rights leader, a mother, a missionary, an elderly nun in India, or one whose greatness is known to God alone. All of them share a common vision. The saints of God are among us and through them the light of Christ continues to shine.

All Saints Day beckons us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential, the promise that lies within each of us. It is the promise that was fulfilled in the countless people we venerate this day, our models, our companions, our inspirations, our guides. They give us blessed hope, the peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the merciful, the pure in heart, those who mourn, the persecuted. Because they assure us again and again: no one is born a saint, but every one of us, by the grace of God, can become one.

The torrent of time is sweeping us all along, into the dark, into death. Every autumn turning to winter reminds us of it. But there is another stream and All Saints reminds us of this too. It is the stream flowing from Easter, from the pierced side of Christ, and, for all its apparent weakness, it is the stronger. The saints are those “who have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.” It was God who loved us first. A saint has realised this, loves him in return and becomes a living beatitude. The robe washed in the blood of the Lamb, is our humanity. Let us open then that tattered robe we are to the power of this love which has no end, so that we too can become people who let the light of God’s Son shine through us.


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