This is the homily I preached today for All Saints Day, 2012. I hope you enjoy reading it again. Our church has more statues of saints than any church I’m aware of. That’s the background for this message. Have a blessed day!
All Saints’ Day. Simple enough. Today we remember all the saints. If anybody should be able to honor the saints, it should be us. Just look around. There are more saints depicted in our church than you can shake a stick at. There are at least five martyrs, including Ludmilla and Wenceslas, grandmother-grandson martyrs. We have Cyril and Methodious, brothers who were Apostles to the Slav nations.
We have an American saint, Saint John Neumann who was the Bishop of Philadelphia and a champion of Catholic schools. We have two kings, Wenceslas and Louis IX, the patron of our Archdiocese. We also have religious like Agnes of Bohemia who was one of the early Poor Clares. By the way, she was Elizabeth of Hungary’s cousin.
Saint Ludmilla was a rich lady who built the first Christian church in Bohemia.
One of my favorites, and one you don’t usually see unless you’re in the choir is Blessed John Sarkander. Like our patron, John of Nepomuk, John Sarkander was martyred for refusing to break the seal of the confessional. Plus, he shares his feast day with Saint Patrick, March 17.
The Poles were invading John’s village and he went out with his parisioners to meet them, carrying the Blessed Sacrament. The Catholic Poles fell to their knees, asked for John’s blessing and went back where they came from. John’s enemies accused him of being in cahoots with the Poles and demanded to know what they had confessed to him when he had been in Poland. He refused and was tortured and killed.
Besides all the statues, we also have thirty-eight relics on our altar. There are some “biggies” like Saint Monica, Saint Wenceslas, and Saint John Bosco. We also have a relic from the Cur of Ars, Saint John Vianni, John Neuman, Angela Merici, Pope Pius X, and Saint Alphonsus Liguori. We even have a relic of a local saint, co-Patroness of the Archdiocese, Saint Rose Phillipine DuShen.
You may have noticed that I’ve put a picture of Emil Kapaun on the communion rail. If you were here this past weekend you heard Father talk about Father Kapaun, a chaplain in the United States Army. Father Kapaun died a heroes death in a North Korean prison camp. His generosity to his fellow soldiers led to his death.
But, All Saints day is about all saints, not just the ones who have canonized by the Catholic Church. Today is about men like my late father-in-law. He was the best man and the best Catholic I’ve ever known. He’ll never be recognized by the Church. In fact, in a couple of generations he’ll be completely forgotten but make no mistake, he is a saint. I’m guessing you have people like that in your lives. They’re saints just as surely as John Nepomuk is a saint; just as surely as the people represented by these statues and relics are saints.
Where are new saints coming from? Look around you. The person in front of you or in back of you or sitting next to you may soon be a saint. After all, that’s what God wants for all of us. He wants each one of us to become a saint. He wants us to be the best we can be.
In the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, the Church issued a universal call to holiness. All Catholics are to live holy lives and holy lives lead to sainthood. That’s our challenge during this Year of Faith and every day of our lives.