MY REFLECTION: Today is All Saint's day. The world celebrates Halloween, but we who are members of the Church celebrate All Saints' Day. To understand the meaning of this practice we have to get back to the Creed. This practice is founded on our confession of faith in the "communion of the saints". What does the communion the saints mean? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself"
Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them." Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.
Reflecting on these realities brings joy and warmth to the heart. We are led to think of the greater scope of the universal church, the people of God. That we as a community of believers (both the living and the dead) are bounded by that one cord of faith, life, community of spiritual goods and we share the same salvation. By our company with fellow Christians we are strengthened in our faith and resolve to walk the narrow way. By our communion with the saints in heaven we are strengthened by their prayers and intercession and by our prayers for the dead we help them loosed the bonds of temporal punishments for sins committed and they too are able to help us by their prayers. This is the reason why we pray novenas and invoke the help and prayers of the Saints. This is also the reason why we offer our prayers and masses for the dead. In this way we too are helped and we draw that life and grace from the fountain head which is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Some of our protestant friends will not understand why we pray to saints and we pray for the dead. Sometimes they ask why we invoke the help of dead persons. They say they are already dead. But remember what Jesus himself said in Mark 12:26-27:
"But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, and the God of Jacob '? "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken."
The context of the verses quoted above is based on the discussions that Jesus had with the members of the Sadducees, a Jewish sect mostly the priestly class of the Judaism in Jesus’ time. The Sadducees do not believe in the doctrine of the resurrection. Jesus rebuked them and without any apology told them they were mistaken.
Therefore from the verse quoted above and from a clear understanding of the doctrine of the communion of the saints we confess and we believe and we base our practice of praying to the saints and praying for the dead.
May these feast days brings us comfort in the thought that we are surrounded by a multitude of saints in heaven and that we commune with them. As the Litany of Saints is sung, we can meaningfully reply, “Ora pro nobis”.