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All Saints & All Souls

By Seminarian Christopher Hoffmann

                This is a week of remembering – not only the Saints on All Saints Day, but also our departed loved ones on All Souls Day.  When we look back at Saints and family members, we see people who make us think “I could never be as holy as they were!”  To an extent, that is true.  We are not called to be holy in the same way as any Saint, but to be saints “in our own skin”.  God has set a different and unique path before each of us.  Pope Paul VI reminded us that we have been called to the “fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity,” that is holiness, from our baptism.  This is the same call received by the great canonized Saints we remember this week.  However, when we look around us or in the mirror, we do not always see holiness.  We have an example of this shortcoming in today’s Gospel.

Luke describes the tax collector Zacchaeus as one who had extorted funds from others, but Jesus still entered his life.  Zacchaeus, who was lost, encountered Jesus and His mercy in a special way.  This mercy, like many of the treats given out to Trick-or-Treaters, is freely given and cannot be earned.  If a scary monster or the cleanest angel shows up at your door, if they ask honestly, both will get a treat.  This is like the mercy we heard about in the book of Wisdom.  God has mercy on all, reminds us of our sins, and calls us to repent and believe in Him.  This call to repentance is unique to each of us, for we are all different. 

We can look to the Saints for a variety of examples of answering this call.  Saints Augustine, Ignatius of Loyola, and John Henry Newman had slow conversions, while others like Zachaeus, Saint Paul, and Blessed Peter Vigne only needed to experience God in a particular way to immediately return to Him.  Many saints show us that living a holy life is a docile process of recognizing God, which is not always quick or easy.  Similarly, we need to be humble enough to accept God’s help on our journey towards His Heavenly Banquet.

Sometime this week, take some time and look up a Saint or Blessed who you have something in common with and ask for his intercession.  For example, if you like programming and video games, search for Bl. Carlo Acutis.  If you feel like you cannot do things as great as those around you, read up on St. Isidore of Seville.  If you are a parent worrying about your children, then St. Monica’s life is for you.  There is a saint for almost anything since God calls and leads each person down a different path and each responds differently.  Let us be docile to God’s plan for our lives and recognize that we are all called to be saints in our own skin.