The Feast of All Saints
“And they sang the canticle of Moses, the servant of God.”–Apoc. xv.
If on today’s festival we think of the communion of the Saints in heaven, we will undoubtedly exclaim within our soul: “Oh, what a joy, what an ecstasy of delight will there be in heaven on this glorious feast!”
And what is it that incites the hearts of our brethren in heaven to such holy rejoicings? Ah, it is the remembrance of their victory–the victory which, while on earth, they gained over Satan, the world, and their own evil inclinations! They lived for heaven, fought for heaven, and gained heaven. Their joy, then, is a victor’s joy, the greatest and sincerest of all the delights which can be tasted by the heart of man.
To show that in truth, on this day, an unbounded joy reigns in heaven, we need but remind you of the description which the seer St. John, in the island of Patmos, gives us of the city of God. “And I heard them,” he says, “singing the canticle of Moses, the servant of God.” It was the re-echo of that canticle which the children of Israel entoned on the shores of the Red Sea after God had destroyed Pharaoh, with all his warriors.
By saying that the Blessed sang the canticle of Moses, St. John wants to represent to us the indescribable sweetness and grandeur of the canticle of Victory which the Blessed in heaven chant before the throne of the Almighty.
I want to explain today to you the meaning of this Canticle of Moses sung in Heaven.
O Mary, Queen of Saints, lead us to victory in our battle on earth, that we may entone once the joyful songs of Saints and Angels with thee in Heaven! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!
The joy that fills the hearts of victorious warriors is proportioned not only to the number and power of the conquered, but also to the previous danger of defeat, to the misery and wretchedness that would have resulted from the enemy’s victory, and, finally, to the positive good following its overthrow.
Now, in the case of the victorious Israelites, all these motives of joy were united in a higher degree than in any earthly victors before them; and yet the joyful songs of Israel can not even be compared with the heavenly hymns in which Saints and Angels give honor and praise and thanks to God for their good fight and their glorious victory.
In the first place, the mighty number and dreadful power of the conquered enemy, as well as the victor’s narrow escape from defeat, increase and intensify the joy of a victorious army. How great, then, must have been the joy of the Israelites!
It was a dark night; the Egyptians had urged the Israelites to leave in haste. The latter had hurried away without even thinking of war and battle. Suddenly they see an approaching cloud of dust. Pharaoh, with his mighty army–horse, foot, and chariot–is at their heels. The Israelites have no arms; the cries of their wives and children urge them to try their utmost to seek safety in flight. But even this is in vain, for before them they see nothing but an immense expanse of water.
But now Moses says to the people: “Fear not; stand and see the great wonders of the Lord which He will do this day; for the Egyptians whom you see now, you shall see no more forever.”
He then stretches out his hand–the waters of the Red Sea are divided, a warm wind dries the bottom, and the Israelites pass through, followed by Pharaoh with hundreds of thousands of armed warriors. But the eye of the Lord watches and looks down on them from above. The horses of the Egyptians are frightened, the wheels fall from the chariots, the waters sweep down in floods over the heads of the sons of Egypt, and, to a man, they are swallowed up in the depths of the sea.
At dawn the bodies of the drowned Egyptians float on the waters, and Israel, with its six hundred thousand men and many hundred thousand women, raises its voice and sings before the Lord a song of thanks and praise.
But, however great the praises and thanks of a nation saved from immediate destruction may have been, they are like sounding brass when compared with the hymns of victory which the Saints entone in the house of their heavenly Father. For each and every saved soul has had to fight against all the powers of hell, against numberless fallen angels and their associates, the world and the flesh. But now all enemies are crushed, and peace reigns eternally.
Besides, we must consider the great dangers that threatened the Saints while alive. “Sister,” said a blessed soul, in an apparition, to a friend of hers–“Sister, I am saved. But it is only now that I understand the dangers of life. At times, in certain temptations and occasions of sin, I had hair-breadth escapes from hell. If the Lord in His endless mercy had not stretched out His saving hand to me then, I should now be buried in the eternal flames. But now, no more enemies, no more dangers; my soul sings eternal praises to the Lord.”
From Pharaoh and the Egyptians, indeed, the children of Israel had nothing more to fear. But were they equally sure that no other hostile powers would oppose their way to the land of promise?
No care of this sort overshadows the happiness of the Saints. All is secure for them, and they are free forever from dangers and enemies.
The joy of victory increases if the victory sets the victors free from the miseries and wretchedness of a painful life. Think of a people of slaves that fights for liberty from tyranny and despotism, and you have a picture of the situation of the Israelites. Up to that time they had served as slaves in labor and hardship, and what would not have been their lot had they been brought back to Egypt not merely as slaves, but also as enemies and prisoners of war!
Victory dispelled all these anxieties. “The Lord is a warrior. Almighty is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He hath cast into the sea; his chosen captains are drowned in the Red Sea. Who is like to Thee among the strong, O Lord? who is like to Thee, glorious in holiness, terrible and praiseworthy, doing wonders?”
Joyous though this canticle of Israel be, it can not compare with the strains of the Blessed: “The former things are passed away; God has wiped away all tears from the eyes of His servants; and death is now no more, nor mourning, nor weeping, nor sorrow is any more.”
The bonds of Egypt indeed have been broken, but new troubles, new anxieties arise for the children of Israel. They have before them a long journey through the desert; and even when this journey is happily completed, they will live only in another part of the same earth that has been cursed by its own Maker: “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” The Saints, on the contrary, have entered a land where there is not a shadow of pain nor any fear of hardship.
Another source of joy in victory is the positive good we have gained. What is not our joy when we acquire some temporal good, new possessions, fresh honors, or influence over new nations! Such was the joy of the Israelites. Freed from the bonds of Egypt, they were to enter the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey. But however rich Chanaan may have been, it still was, like the rest of the earth, a valley of tears. Its mightiest king, while enjoying more riches, honors, and pleasures than any mortal before or after, cried out from the depths of his burdened heart: “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.”
How different are the joys of the Blessed in Heaven! They enjoy riches and pleasures of which the Apostle says: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” Heaven is the Society of Saints and Angels, of Jesus and Mary. God Himself says: “At the fountain of waters I will give them drink, and I will be their God, and they shall be My sons.”
Heaven, then, is God Himself. The Saints see God face to face, they possess God, they become like unto God in the light of glory, and in peace and love they remain glorified with God forever. How can we, then, suppose this joy to be equaled by the joy of the children of Israel? For even supposing the Israelites should have found a perfect earthly happiness in their promised land, they still had the graves of Adam and Eve and of all the Patriarchs, reminding them that soon they, too, should rest in the grave and molder into the dust from which they had been framed. But the bliss of the Saints lasts eternally, and their joyful Alleluias resound forever.
And even considering their respective numbers, the joys and songs of the Israelites remain far behind the jubilation of the Saints. The Israelites amounted to six hundred thousand men, with a number of women and children in proportion. The number of the Blessed is indicated by St. John: “After this I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, Who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.”
And, besides all this, if we consider the immense joys of the Blessed, that result from the continual increase of their number by the arrival of souls from the Church suffering, who does not feel the intense struggling for utterance!
Oh, that I, too, were among the number of the Blessed! that I were at least certain of my eternal happiness! But we are certain of our eternal salvation if we only follow the example of the Saints; if we avoid sin; if we are faithful in our daily duties. On these conditions we too, even, perhaps before the next Feast of All Saints, shall unite our voices with those of the Blessed; we too, crowned by our Lord Jesus Christ, shall triumph among the bands of the Saints and Angels.
The Israelites went forth out of Egypt. They killed a Paschal lamb, with the blood of which they signed their doors; they stood and ate hastily, with shoes on their feet and staves in their hands. On their journey they followed a cloud of fire, and were nourished with manna.
Now, each of these circumstances is symbolical. If we wish to attain the joys of Heaven we must wash ourselves in the blood of the Lamb; we must leave the fleshpots of Egypt–that is, the world, with its pleasures; we must stand upright–that is, our hearts must be free from earthly desires; we must gird ourselves with the spirit of self-denial. Continual thought of approaching Eternity must be the staff to guard us through life. The light of faith is our cloud of fire. Occasions and temptations to sin must be passed through by us as the Red Sea was by the Israelites. On our way through life we must nourish ourselves not with earthly manna, indeed, but with the heavenly–I mean the Eucharist.
Let us be ready; we are warned, and soon we shall take part in the triumph of All Saints, singing with them the canticle of Moses amid the Alleluias of all heavenly hosts.–Amen!
Colloquy Between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant
“Oh! how great is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden for them that fear Thee! (Ps. xxx. 20)”
From your blissful thrones of glory
Look on us, O ye elect;
Tell us what repays your combat,
Tell us what we may expect?
Our delights no one can utter,
Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard;
Nor can mortals feel the pleasure,
That for us God hath reserved.
Ye, bright martyr throng, whose courage
Never quailed amid the strife;
What is now to be your portion
After giving up your life?
We, with waving palms, all standing,
And with banners bright unfurled,
Sing for ever, alleluia,
To the Saviour of the world.
Famous doctors, ye, whose voices
Have resounded here below,
By what new and wondrous doctrines
Are your minds enlightened now?
From the everlasting fountain
Of the unerring truth of God,
We are learning untold secrets
Ever in our blest abode.
Ye, whose unabated penance
Made the desert so renowned,
Hermits, tell us, for your rigours
What delight ye now have found?
For the pleasures we relinquished,
For our homes and friends below,
Joys delicious, pour in torrents,
Fill our hearts and overflow.
Ye, the virgins, whose betrothals
Bound you to a heavenly spouse,
With what favours does He own you,
Faithful to your threefold vows?
Happy brides, in spotless garments,
Close beside our Lord we throng;
Where the Lamb goes, there we follow,
While we sing the “unknown song.”
As we gaze upon your glory,
Saints of God, in Heaven’s own light,
Teach us how we too may join you,
How to win those crowns so bright?
Would you come whero wo have entered,
Fight with all your strength and power;
Would you live the life eternal,
Dio to self at every hour?
Ah! wo shrink from pain and sorrow,
We are frightened when we hear;
We must live in constant struggles,
We must dio to all that’s dear.
If the path bo rough and thorny,
At tho end all pain shall cease;
If the battle be a fierce one,
There shall be eternal peace!
“Considering the end of their conversation, follow their faith.”–Heb. xiii, 7.
When one lives in distress, and hears of the happiness of others, he naturally asks himself the question: How is it that, although born of parents of the most humble condition, he is held in such high honor, and is esteemed by so many? Thus we hear of an Emperor, once a swine-herd; of a Pope, the son of a carpenter. And how many similar examples do we not witness in America? Men of low birth have worked themselves up to the highest dignities of the State; and many from beggars have become millionaires. Here again the thought naturally suggests itself: How did their success begin? How did they manage to succeed so well?
Hence it is that, looking into heaven in spirit, and thinking upon those who have entered that happy abode, this question will also force itself upon us: What were the thoughts that occupied the minds of the Saints while here on earth? What means did they employ to attain such a degree of Christian perfection?
I say to you: Ask the Saints, and they will answer you from heaven.
How fitting it is to examine the motives that actuated their works, and guided them to the land of promise! Can there, indeed, be one more appropriate to the day?
O Mary, Queen of all Saints, Mirror of Justice, obtain for us the favor of the Saints, that we may follow their example and become holy! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater honor of God!
When we name the Saints and speak of them, we do not seem to consider them as ordinary beings, but rather as more than mortal, whom God has raised to more than human perfection. Yet this is not altogether the case. The Saints were men as we are. They were children of Adam, born in sin, and subject to the stain of original sin, as we all have been. As they grew in age, they were not free from temptation. They were frail children of Adam, who, as St. Paul declares, felt in themselves the sting of concupiscence, and were exposed to the dangers of being lost forever.
They lived as ordinary men, and yet their lives were extraordinary. What was ordinary in them, and belonged to their state of life, was not done in a common way, but rather in a perfect and holy , manner. Why this difference? I answer: Because they lived in the full resoluteness of those principles that faith taught them, and were more faithful in observing them than we are. You may ask: What are those principles? I answer: Ask the Saints themselves, they will tell you from above.
Speak, ye Saints of God, you holy–[name of patrons of this Church, etc.]–and all ye Saints! What did ye meditate upon that your lives became so holy? Listen today to the answer from heaven.
Our thought was: I serve God. Do ye hear? Think on this, and you, too, will lead a holy life. Why? Because God is infinite perfection, and deserves an infinite homage. Indeed, no mortal, nay, not even Mary herself, can give this homage to God. The blessed Manhood of Christ, in hypostatic union with His Divinity, is alone capable of rendering to the Father the adoration due to Him. What lesson does this teach us? It teaches us that, though we had the ardor of Mary, and of all the Saints, we would still be obliged to acknowledge before God: I am a useless servant. My God, to Thee belongs a much greater zeal in Thy service than we can give.
Ye Saints, what made you so holy? Listen to the answer: Our thought was, God sees me.
Think on this as did the Saints, walk constantly according to their example, in the presence of God, and, as they did, so will you live holy. God Himself assured us of this when He said to Abraham: “Walk before Me and be perfect.” Try this! Walk only one entire day in the presence of God, and say to yourselves, ten, twenty times a day, at the beginning and the end of your work: God sees me! and the inspirations of the Holy Ghost will be multiplied within you, and urge you to live in a holy manner. You will be inspired to make good resolutions, and will receive strength to live according to them.
Ye Saints of God, what made you so holy, so earnest, and humble in the service of God? Hear the answer: The thought that filled ourmindwas what I do, I do it for God.
Do you likewise think of this with the same assiduity, and you, too, will live holy in the strength and vigor of a pure intention.
This is done even in the world. Whosoever does any thing for a dignitary of this earth–for a Lord, a King, or an Emperor–on whose kindness depends the happiness of this whole life, that man certainly will make all possible endeavors to do his work as perfectly as he can, so that it may be presentable to this Lord, King, Ruler, or Benefactor.
Ye Saints of God, what made you so holy? Listen to the answer: It is this thought: either I must become holy and go to heaven, or I shall be damned. Either I must live in grace, and be in the company of the blessed, or I shall fall into sin, perish, and be numbered with the throngs of evil spirits and condemned sinners. “Not to go forward in the way of perfection is to go backward,” St. Bernard says. Whoever does not swim against the stream, him the stream will sweep along in its course. If I do not become entirely holy in life, though I should die in the state of grace, the fires of Purgatory must cleanse me unto holiness. Hence it is better to labor and suffer meritoriously now, than to endure great torments without merit hereafter.
And mark this well. Perhaps none of you have ever thought of it. And still it is one of the teachings of the Church upon which the Saints continually meditated. Should we not reach the degree of sanctity to which God calls us as the Saints did, who are now raised to the honors of the altar, we may run the risk of being lost forever.
For you it may be either to be high in heaven, or not to be there at all. Remember Judas. He was either to have a place in heaven among the Apostles, or to be excluded altogether from the company of the Saints. The degree of holiness, which corresponds to this glory, depends, perhaps, upon one proffered grace–upon the use or abuse we make of it. A chain, be it the longest, if one link is missing, is falling.
It is the assurance of the Lord, Who said: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a mustard seed.” The lives of the Saints bear testimony to this. In their lives things apparently small took place; and had they not, on those occasions, listened to the inspirations of grace, they would never have become such great Saints; nay, perhaps they would have been lost.
Call to mind St. Anthony. Had he not listened to the inspiration of God, which said: ” Go to Mass today ;” had he not heard the words of the Gospel: ” If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast, give it to the poor, and follow Me,” he would likely have remained, during life, in the possession of his worldly goods; would have set his mind on gold; would not have retired to the desert, and would never have become the patriarch of innumerable Saints. The woes of riches would have befallen him; and, mayhap, he would be now a reprobate. Behold the mustard seed! Likewise, had John of God not listened to the inspiration: “Go today to the sermon;” had he not done it on that particular day; had he not heard that sermon, which made him a Saint instantaneously, although he was a sinner when he entered the church,–I ask, would he be a Saint to-day, or would he not rather be among the damned?
Do you know to which grace God has attached your salvation? You do not. Therefore, make use of every grace which the Lord offers you. Do this, and you will be holy.
Ye Saints of God, what made you holy? Listen to the answer: This thought,–The more assiduous I am, the better and lighter becomes the work, and the greater the merit thereof. Think on this, and you, too, will acquire merit, as did the Saints, and gather full sheaves for the granary of heaven.
Ye Saints, what made you so holy? Listen to the answer: This was our reflection,–Life is but one. Only once have I the opportunity to reap merits for heaven. Now, or never! Oh, what an all-important principle!
Not without a special dispensation of divine Providence does the Feast of All Saints precede that of All Souls,–that reminder of certain death,–that reminder of the fleeting nature of time! Death and time cease together! The harvest is over! Eternity begins!
“Yes, time, thou art precious as God Himself,” cried St. Chrysostom,–for time is the only means by which we can insure our union with God forever, and increase His glory. Were we able to see every evening all the crowns that we have lost during the day, not only because we have sinned, but because we have not made use of all the hours and minutes of the day in the service of God,–with what fervor would we not live the following day!
Hence, think daily of your last hour, and ask yourself: When the moment comes, and my heart beats for the last time, how would I then desire to have spent my life ? Holily! But then it will be too late! Now, I have it in my power; but then, as my life has been, so will be my death! If I have lived in lukewarmness, the pangs of the tepid Christian at death await me! On the contrary, if I have lived with the zeal of the Saints, then will I certainly die the precious and consoling death of the just. Maybe, a death even without Purgatory.
Ye Saints, what made you so holy? Oh, we thought, if I die holily, I shall go straight to heaven. My judgment shall be without judgment, and I shall hear the invitation of the Lord: “Enter thou into My joy.”
Finally, the Saints of heaven ask us: Why do you question us so often? Children of men, do you not know where we are? In the kingdom of recompense! Should we be sorry for any thing, it would be that we did not live more holily, and did not labor and suffer more for heaven.
But you may ask: Must I not then receive special grace from God to live thus? I answer: And thou shalt have it, if thou prayest for it with an upright heart; not, indeed, because of thy own merits, but because of the infinite merits of Christ.
All depends on this: That thou be, at present, as earnest and sincere as the Saints. Then wilt thou be able to say before God: Lord, Thou seest my heart; I am in earnest; I have said it, now do I begin, and I will live up to the principles of the Saints. Give me Thy efficacious grace.
May all the Saints intercede for us, that we may obtain these graces. All heaven says: Amen! Amen!
“Your reward is very great in heaven.”–Matt, v, 12.
Should we desire, in some measure, to anticipate the fullness of the bliss that the Saints enjoy in heaven, we need only recall to mind what Faith teaches us concerning the joy and happiness of Heaven. In this consideration, let us follow the advice of St. Paul, and, even while upon earth, gaze, as in a mirror, upon the joys of heaven; and we will understand that all the joys of this world are likewise found in heaven, but in an immeasurably higher degree.
And still there are Christians who think and say: “There is a heaven; but, alas, how little we know of it, and of what is therein contained!” What a delusion! I say, on the contrary: “We know enough, and so much, indeed, that it is inconceivable how, when once we have earnestly reflected on what Faith teaches us about heaven, we do not continually carry the thought of that blessed abode in our minds, live for heaven, long for heaven, and exclaim, with holy David: “Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest? Woe is me that my sojourn is prolonged! When, when, O Lord, shall I stand in Thy presence?”
In order to see this truth more clearly, we need but question the Saints themselves, upon whose exultation we are meditating.
“Where are ye?” They will give us their answer from heaven.
O Mary, thou, whose joy is above that of all the Angels and Saints in the bliss of heaven, assist us, that we may one day share that joy in the communion of all the Saints! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
It happened once that an aged servant of God met a man who seemed to be entirely buried in grief, and said to him: “Art thou a Christian? Dost thou believe that there is a heaven awaiting thee? If so, how canst thou mourn? Let them grieve who never have heard of heaven! Let them be downcast who do not believe in heaven!”
To appreciate this truth, it is merely necessary to reflect on where the Saints of God are, and to consider the bliss they there enjoy; for all the happiness they enjoy is within our reach.
And, as life is so short and heaven our approaching destiny forever, is it not proper that we ask the Saints today: “Where are ye?” Listen to their answer as it descends from heaven: “We are in the land of promise; in the land where many meet and none do part. What joy when we found there those whom we loved on earth, who served God with us, whom death had torn from us, and with whom we now enjoy life ever lasting!” Dost thou hear this, afflicted soul? Hast thou lost relatives and acquaintances? Hast thou the hope that they died a holy death? Console thyself! Rejoice and sing the jubilee of the Saints! Soon thou wilt see them again.
“Ye Saints of God, where are ye?” Listen to their answer: “We are in paradise. We behold the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” Paradise means that part of creation which expands over the regions of the starry firmament.
There is a proverb which says: “See Naples and die.” Still, what is Naples? What is the beauty of the earth, even in its most charming spot? All these, in God’s sight, are as thistles and thorns–the husks with which He feeds the sinner for the little moral good he does during life.
A God, infinitely beautiful, blessed, and at the same time Almighty, is able to create more than the dust of this world. Yet, even of this earthly home, how little do we possess! Poor man, do you hear the call from heaven? “The heavens are mine; all mine.” Thus shalt thou, too, soon cry out. Rejoice and be jubilant, and cry to the Saints: We come soon, soon!
“Where are ye, Saints of God?” Hear their answer from heaven: “We are in the kingdom of reward.” The greatness of which reward no eye hath seen, nor ear heard; neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. Oh, too much, too much! Thus exult the Saints. They are in the land of joy, of perfect joy; and there is no shadow of sorrow, no grief, no misery, forever.
“I heard a voice from the throne, which said: There shall be neither suffering, nor complaining, nor misery, nor want, nor separation, nor death. What was, has gone by. The Lord has dried the tears from the eyes of His own forever.” Thus writes St. John, who, in ecstasies, had got a glimpse of heaven.
Child of man, is it labor that weighs thee down, is it sickness, grief, persecution, that embitters thy life? Think on heaven. Soon thou wilt be in the kingdom of reward and joy. Persevere, and thou shalt enter forever into the joy of the Lord. Oh, what a consolation! Yes, ye Saints, we come soon to the kingdom of joy.
“Where are ye, ye Saints?” Hear the answer from heaven: “We enjoy the communion of all the Angels and Saints–we entered into the communion of their blessedness and glory.” Nor is this all, for the Lord not only rewards every one according to his works, but there is also a participation of each in the bliss of all.
Hearest thou, O melancholy soul? What is it that casts thee down? Art thou alone and abandoned on earth? Are all whom thou lovest and who were dear to thee, dead? Soon thou, also, wilt sing thy canticle of joy in heaven: “I see all the Angels, the Archangels, the Principalities, the Powers, the Virtues, the Dominations, the Thrones, the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and I enter into the bliss and love of all the holy Virgins, Confessors and Martyrs, of the Patriarchs and Prophets, of the beloved Apostle of Christ, St. John, and of St. Joseph? Why should I bewail you, ye holy acquaintances and relatives? Soon will I share with you your everlasting joy.”
“Where are ye now, ye Saints of God?” “With Mary and Jesus,” echoes the answer. “What is mine is thine:” thus cries Mary to every saved child of hers, and Jesus fulfills His promise: “To the victor I will give to sit with Me on My throne.”
“Where are ye, ye Saints of God?” Hear the answer: “Near God, with God, in God.” “I Myself,” says the Almighty, “am thy reward exceeding great.” Remember this: God, the never-ending happiness, shall soon be thy lot and portion; and, oh, in what a union! There is no expression for it in human language.
“We shall see Him as He is,” as St. John tells us. “They shall be like God,” says Christ Himself. Christian soul, how canst thou grieve, when thou thinkest on the jubilee of the Saints, which thou art soon to share? Hear their call from heaven: “We see God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Thus they shout in thunders of Alleluias: “We are now united to God, submerged in the never-ending power, wisdom, holiness, mercy, truth, majesty, and magnificence of God, and lost in His infinite beauty and blessedness and love. We are one with God as His godlike representations.”
I will give you an illustration: Suppose an acquaintance, a father, brother, friend, or bridegroom were to come from afar, and you did not know it, and he were to stand at the door behind a curtain. You can not see him, but there is in the room a mirror, in which his image is reflected. Looking at the mirror, you would cry out: “Oh, it is my father, brother, friend, or husband!”
Were it possible for this man to impart his life to the image shadowed in the mirror, we could say, at once: “It is he!” This mirror in heaven is the light of glory, in which the soul sees the image of God reflected, of Whose divine life she now partakes. Oh, what a place of divine bliss!
Christian soul, when thou takest seriously to heart the answer that the Saints have just given from heaven, then must thou say: “Beautiful heaven, thee must I possess, cost what it may–labor, suffering, blood, and life itself. How glad must thou not be if thou reflectest that it depends on thee alone to become truly holy. Sin is the only hinderance that presents itself in thy way. But there is neither man nor devil capable of forcing thee to sin. Man is free, and with the grace of God is stronger than the whole world, and all flesh, nay, even stronger than hell itself.
Of like strength is virtue, which we must practise, in order to multiply our joys in heaven. It is true that men and hell are able to prevent us from fulfilling this or that work of virtue and zeal: but nothing in the world can hinder us from doing God’s will, from so doing what He expects of us, that we may go forward, meritoriously, on the path of Christian perfection. These practices of virtue are presented to us in the words of Christ Himself, words that the Church repeats to us in the gospel of today, the feast of All Saints: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are they that mourn. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice. Blessed are the clean of heart. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the peace-makers. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake. Exceedingly great is their reward in heaven.” It is Christ Himself Who gives us this assurance.
Live up to these eight beatitudes, after the example of the Saints on earth, and soon shalt thou rejoice in communion with them in heaven through Him, the King of All Saints. Amen.
Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger. Permissu Superiorum. New York: P. O’Shea, Publisher, 67 Barclay Street and 42 Park Place. 1876.