Sunday Church at Home – Solemnity of All Saints 7th November, 2021

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Solemnity of All Saints

7th November, 2021

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Celebrating the Saints in Heaven.

 

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:      Amen

Leader:        Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:      Blessed be God for ever

Leader:        On All Souls Day we remembered all the dead, those in heaven and those still on the way there: God alone knows where each soul is. Today on the Solemnity of All Saints we celebrate the saints in heaven, the holy men and women of every time and place: we hope some of our people are among them.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Revelation 7:2-4.9-14

Introduction to the reading: The Book of Revelation is not intended to predict actual people and events in future times. The author was concerned only about people and events in that time and was given NO privileged information about the future. In today’s passage, the author encourages people of that time by presenting a vision of God’s people enjoying heavenly life.

A reading from the Book of Revelation.

I, John, saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun,
with the seal of the living God,
and he called with a loud voice to the four angels
who had been given power to harm earth and sea,
saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God
upon their foreheads.”
And I heard the number of the sealed,
a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed,
out of every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I looked, and behold,
a great multitude which no-one could number,
from every nation,
from all tribes and peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes,
with palm branches in their hands,
and crying out with a loud voice,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne,
and to the Lamb!”

And all the angels stood round the throne
and round the elders and the four living creatures,
and they fell on their faces before the throne
and worshipped God, saying, “Amen!
Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying,
“Who are these, clothed in white robes,
and from where have they come?”
I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
And he said to me,
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

The word of the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24:1-2.3-4ab.5-6 (R. cf. 6a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. These are the people who seek your face, O Lord.

The LORD’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world, and all who dwell in it.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the rivers he made it firm.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The clean of hands and pure of heart,
whose soul is not set on vain things,

Blessings from the LORD shall he receive,
and right reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the people who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

R/. These are the people who seek your face, O Lord.

 

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

Introduction to the reading:

In our first reading, we heard symbolic images of what heaven will be like. The author of our second reading also talks about what heaven will be like, but without attempting to give us any specific details.

A reading from the First Letter of Saint John.

Beloved:
See what love the Father has given us,
that we should be called children of God;
and so we are.
The reason why the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
it does not yet appear what we shall be,
but we know that when he appears
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him
purifies himself as he is pure.

The word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
Alleluia.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12a

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

At that time:
Seeing the crowds,
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and when he sat down his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily

We look to the saints as being models and guides for us. We want to imitate their holiness. As we read about the saints, we soon discover that it is very difficult to find a single pattern of holiness, a single way of following Christ common to all.

 

One thing that is striking about the Saints is their diversity. There is St Thomas Aquinas, the towering intellectual, and St John Vianney, who barely made it through the seminary.

There is St Vincent de Paul, a saint in the city, and there is St Antony who found sanctity in the harshness and loneliness of the desert.

There is St Bernard kneeling on the hard stones of Clairvaux in penance for his sins, and there is St Hildegard of Bingen singing and throwing flowers, madly in love with God.

There is St Peter, the down to earth and no-nonsense fisherman, and there is St Edith Stein, philosopher and martyr.

There is St Joan of Arc, leading armies into war, and there is St Francis of Assisi, the pacifist who would never hurt an animal.

There is the bad tempered St Jerome who translated the Bible, and there is St Philip Neri, whose spirituality was based on laughter.

 

How do we explain this diversity?

 

God is an artist, and artists love to change their styles. The saints are God’s masterpieces, and God never tires of painting them in different colours, different styles, and in different circumstances. What does this mean for us? It means we should not try to imitate any one Saint exactly. We need to look to them all, study their unique holiness, but then find that specific colour God has intended for our lives and holiness.

 

St. Catherine of Siena described it like this: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

 

The title “saints” was used in the early church to describe those called and in covenant with God through Christ. We have been called to holiness by God and are given the gifts we need to live holy, sainted lives.

 

If there is one biblical book even regular readers of the Scriptures tend to avoid, it is the Book of Revelation. Some say, “It’s so bizarre! Who can understand those hallucinatory images and strange creatures?” Today we have a reading from Revelation that has strange details that could confuse our modern need for literal exactness. We read how: “They who have come out of the great tribulation … have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

 

How could those wearing robes get them white by washing them “in the Blood of the Lamb?” Wouldn’t that turn them red? We should not reflect on this reading as someone familiar with science and technology. Instead we should reflect on it with a background of poetry and literature. The Book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature and has more in common with poetry than science.

 

Towards the end of the first century Christians were under the severe persecution of the Emperor Domitian and were tempted to feel abandoned by God. In his poetic style the writer of the Book of Revelation tells them – most definitely not. This vision is a promise of future glory for those who remain faithful to the Lamb of God – Jesus.

 

Glory isn’t only a future reward, but even now we share in God’s holiness through Jesus Christ. That is why we who are gathered for Mass and prayer today can also be called saints, because we are held dear and valued and precious by our God. When we were baptised, a white robe was place on us. Our baptismal robes are made white by the life force of Jesus, his blood, at work in our lives.

 

A catechism teacher asked her grade 3 class, “What’s a saint?” A little girl, probably remembering the colourful stained glass images in her parish church responded, “Saints are the people the light shines through.” The big or “public lights” are up there in the church windows. Their light shines through in a rainbow of colours. Their biographies tell us that no two were the same. Each saint shone their unique light in one or many dark places in the world.

 

Because their light has been so brilliant, we raise them up for all to see so that the rest of us can be enlightened and have hope. If God could shine such light through Mary, Joseph, Francis and Clare, Catherine of Siena, Oscar Romero, then God can do that even in us!

 

Keep us: strong in times of trials and doubts; courageous when challenged; compassionate to the broken; wise for those who are searching; outspoken when others hold a fearful silence; anonymous in performing loving deeds; persevering when struggles will not just evaporate; defending justice when the world ignores or presses down those who are marginalised; gentle and strong in the face of what takes us away from encountering God.

 

This is a small and incomplete list of saintly virtues, but they come about from reflecting on the lives of my favourite Saints – like the ones I named above. They are the giants in the Communion of Saints. But it is also good to reflect on the less well known saints we have known and loved and encountered  in our lives.  They remind us of what is possible in our regular and ordinary lives. I am sure that you have your favourites and are able to draw up your own list of the virtues that make a saint.

 

When you make your own list you will find it parallels what Jesus listed in today’s gospel – the Beatitudes.

 

The Beatitudes aren’t a list of commandments we have to live by if we want to follow Jesus. Instead, they show how we can live when the source of our life is Jesus.  Because of him we are “Blessed,” our lives reflect a profound change in us, the result of his grace, which enables us to be: poor in spirit, gentle, merciful, peacemakers, etc.

 

In the second reading from the letter of St John, John puts it another way “… we are God’s children now.”

 

This feast is about Now; about our union with one another and the great “cloud of witnesses” who have preceded us. Today’s feast reminds us of those who are now gazing on God’s brilliance and that we are in communion with them through our prayers and memory. And, because of their lives, we can have hope for our own!

There, someday, I’m going to meet all the stained glass Saints in the flesh. I’m also going to meet all the others – no-less-holy, saints, “the great multitude which no one can count.” We are already the saints of God, not because we have earned a great reward or have gone through life unblemished by sin, but because of the mercy of God manifested in Jesus.

 

Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb.

From today’s reading from Revelation:

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

Reflection:

A catechism asked her grade 3 class, “What’s a saint?” A little girl, probably remembering the stained glass images in her parish church, responded, “Saints are the people the light shines through.”

So we ask ourselves:

  • Who are my favourite saints and how do they shine the light of Jesus into my life?
  • How does my life shine for others?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:        The Lord has spoken to us through the word in the scriptures. We now speak to the Lord in our own words about our cares and concerns.

Reader:

We pray for the Church: (pause)

that, inspired by the witness of the saints, we may rely upon God’s mercy and providence as we strive to be faithful disciples.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for greater unity in the church: (pause)

that women and men from south and north, east and west; from poverty and riches, authority and powerlessness; from every race, language, and culture, maybe joined in Christ into one Body of faith, service, and witness by the one Spirit.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all medical staff and researchers in this coronavirus pandemic: (pause)
we give thanks to God’s healing Spirit who guides them in their work of healing and administering covid vaccines.
LORD HEAR US

We pray for all students writing exams: (pause)

may their dedication and hard work provide good results.

LORD HEAR US.

 

We pray for all who fear death and have no hope in the resurrection: (pause)

that they may encounter the Risen Lord and come to faith in Christ who is the resurrection and the life.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for all the faithful departed on the Pious Lists.

LORD HEAR US

 

Leader:        Let us pray for all saints remembered and forgotten:

Gracious God,
we thank you for all those who have served you well,
and now rest from their labours.
We thank you for all the saints remembered and forgotten,
for those dear souls most precious to us.
We thank you for their life and love
and rejoice for them that all is well.
Lord God,
mindful of all those saints
who have gone on ahead of us,
teach us to follow their example to the best of our ability,
to feed the poor in body or spirit,
to support and comfort the mourners and the repentant,
to encourage the meek and stand with them in crises,
to affirm those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
to cherish and learn from the merciful,
to be humbled by, and stand with, the peacemakers.
Let us recognize what it means to be called the children of God,
and to know we are called to be your saints.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:        Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:        All-holy God,
you call your people to holiness.

As we keep the festival of your saints,
give us their meekness and poverty of spirit,
a thirst for righteousness,
and purity of heart.
May we share with them the richness of your kingdom
and be clothed in the glory you bestow.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

All:               Amen.

Leader:        May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:               Amen.

🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈🕈

 

 

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