Having a feast for all the Saints is probably one of the most humble, practical, and happy things we can do as a Church.
It is an act of humility because it makes us aware that there are countless saints (see Revelation 7:9), many more than we can know. Some people spend their lives trying to have this Pope or that holy person named a saint, but the truth is that God names saints every day. The Church only recognizes a small part of that worthy throng. So let’s have a day when we celebrate them all, named and unnamed on earth, and remember that it is God who elects saints to the courts of heaven.
Partly for the same reason—and partly because there are only 365 days in a year—the Church establishes this day of All Saints to give us the opportunity to celebrate some of the lesser known saints. It is impractical, and in fact against the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (see The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #111), to have the Church fill every day with saints’ feasts. Even if we could do that, the list of saints in the Church is over 6,000 names long! So for practical reasons, it is a good thing to have a day for all of these holy people: people like Saint Ethelbert, who helped convert the citizens of England, or Blessed Isnard, who has the misfortune of sharing a feast day (March 19th) with St. Joseph and so is never celebrated in most of the world.
Finally, All Saints’ Day is a happy thing. I don’t know how else to describe this, but after the fun of All Saints’ Eve—what we know as Hallowe’en (All Hallows—meaning Saints—Eve), All Saints’ Day has a joy about it. We celebrate the fact the saints are not ghosts or vampires or legends or fairy tales. The Saints are part of the people of God—they are children of God, just like us. And that really should make us happy. For we are part of this immense crowd; we can follow their examples, we can ask for their prayers, and they pray with us to God.
So have a humble, practical, and happy All Saints’ Day, everyone!
-Glenn Byer, Associate Publisher