Nov 1 — Solemnity of All Saints
All Saints’ Day is celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In terms of Roman Catholic theology, the feast commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven. The beatific vision is the eternal and direct perception of God enjoyed by those who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness and blessedness. St. Thomas Aquinas defined the beatific vision as the ultimate end of human existence after physical death.
The origin of this feast as celebrated in the West dates to 13 May 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedication Sanctae mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. The chosen day, May 13, was a pagan observation of great antiquity, the culmination of three days of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated.
The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731-741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, with the day moved to Nov 1.
1 Jn 3:1-3
“Rejoice and be glad…”
I have been occupying my time watching Netflix recently and was recommended the series ‘Daredevil’, whose hero is a blind, Catholic lawyer and his alter ego, a vigilante who operates at night in New York City’s eponymous Hell’s Kitchen. Being Catholic, he adheres to a strict ‘no kill’ policy, which puts him and those he cares for in some awkward, life-threathening situations. Needless to say, his constant struggles within himself make for some interesting storylines. Not unlike those of us who constantly wish (and pray) for a happier day/life/relationship/work situation…..
‘Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God’ – Mt 5-9
How do we, as sons and daughters of God, make sense of the chaos and disruption around us these days? COVID-19 has thrown every playbook out the window and I hope that all of us miss celebrating the Eucharist each Sunday and receiving Christ in person. I, for one, cherish each opportunity I have been blessed with since phase 2 started here in Singapore, and where we are now moving towards opening up for 100 congregants each mass. At the last 4th Saturday mass and healing service, we had more than 2,800 on youtube and close to 500 on Zoom. As one of the Zoom managers on duty, I marvelled as the more than 2 hour session proceeded seamlessly without any glitches and we enjoyed an adoration session that truly spoke to me.
‘Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God’ – Mt 5-10
Many of us have had our lives disrupted, especially for those who have had to cope with less than ideal arrangements at home. And while I have enjoyed the time working from home, building stronger bonds with my mother, I know of other colleagues and staff who have had to deal with young children (especially those taking national exams), stressed-out spouses and angsty teenagers with time on their hands. Today, we call to mind the saints who we have reached out to in our time of need (I’m sure we all have one ‘go to’ saint), and ask for the peace of God to reign in our hearts. I have been blessed to have had a gentle moment with him two weeks ago when I took a short ‘labyrinth walk’ at a retreat centre while waiting for my other half. That moment of peace helped clarify a few things in my head and inspired some of my connections in the ensuing week I was back at work.
‘Happy are those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ – Mt 5-11
Whatever you regard as your idea of paradise, I think we can agree that on hindsight, the journeys we take to arrive there are varied, hardly smooth, and involve many characters/personalities. I was struggling with a spate of resignations over the past 2 months and started to question my leadership. While I await 2 more new hires to join us, I have been comforted by the unity and strength of the team who, despite being 3 persons down, are delivering to a high standard. I have had other colleagues come up to me and affirm (even praise) them…something that has been rare and lacking in the past. So I reckon that something good is happening and my efforts over the last 10 years at this organisation have not been futile. I shared with a group of potential student leaders who were interested in being trained as ‘ambassadors’ that the most important trait we were looking for is authenticity. Because when all is said and done, respect is given to those who believe in a cause and are willing to stand up for it, no matter how strong the buffeting winds are.
I don’t know where I am taking my team or how but I sense that it involves even more of a ‘letting go’ and to trust in those around me.
Brothers and sisters, when the going gets tough, when those around us start to question our belief system, how convicted are we to trust God and to leave it all up to Him? I have done my fair share of letting go over the past few months and it has been carthartic at times…and liberating. I have experienced a sense of freedom that is rooted in my faith that my heavenly Father has my back. And that all He wants for me is for me to be happy and to spread that happiness around…
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are all wounded by our sins, yet you continue to believe in us and shower us with your love. Give us a desire to be like the saints in your kingdom who we honour today, and never allow us to be separated from you because of our shame.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord, for all the saints you have blessed and given to us.