Although the Church commemorates individual saints on particular dates throughout the year—typically on the date of the saint’s death—the Church gathers all the saints together for one big celebration on November 1. According to the Martyrologium Romanum, the official calendar of saints for the Church, there are twenty individual saints and blesseds remembered on this date as well. Those holy men and women include an Italian deacon who died a martyr during the days of the early Church; a Portuguese man who started life as a soldier but, after becoming a widower, became a lay brother and lived a life of penance; and a Greek rite Catholic priest who was poisoned by the Communists when he stood up for the rights of the Church. These saints, like the saints on every other day of the year, demonstrate the universality of the Church.
But All Saints’ Day is more than just a remembrance of all the greatest saints of the entire year, more than a remembrance of a handful of lesser-known saints, and more than a remembrance of all the unnamed and unknown men and women who are already in Heaven but whose names we won’t know until (please God) we join them there. All Saints’ Day is a reminder that all of us could be saints and all of us should try to be saints. That means you and me.
For the rest of the month of November, there will be blog posts on specific saints, not one of whom lived a life of blissful ease. All of them had personal quirks, suffered from family difficulties, and/or lived through tumultuous political events. For that reason, they are the perfect people to teach the rest of us how to become saints, one day at a time.
All you holy men and women, pray for us to become saints.