All Saints and Souls Day has long been especially meaningful for and hugely popular with the faith community with whom I worship – St. Stephen’s.
As regular readers of either this blog or The Progressive Catholic Voice would know, the community of St. Stephen’s is currently in transition. The vast majority of its members, for instance, now worship together as the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, and today’s All Saints Day Homecoming celebration drew well over 200 people to our current home at Park House in South Minneapolis.
Following is one of the readings we shared this morning. It’s from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, A Great Cloud of Witness.
What makes a saint? Extravagance. Excessive love, flagrant mercy, radical affection, exorbitant charity, immoderate faith, intemperate hope, inordinate love. None of which is an achievement, a badge to be earned or a trophy to be sought; all are secondary by-products of the one thing that truly makes a saint, which is the love of God, which is membership in the body of Christ, which is what all of us, living and dead, remembered and forgotten, great souls and small, have in common. Some of us may do more with that love than others and may find ourselves able to reflect it in a way that causes others to call us saints, but the title is one that has been given to us all by virtue of our baptisms. The moment we rose dripping from the holy water we joined the communion of saints, and we cannot go back any more than we can give back our names or the blood in our veins.
So All Saints Day is a family reunion indeed, of a clan made kin by Christ’s blood. There are heroes and scoundrels at the party, beloved aunts and estranged cousins, relatives we adore and those who plainly baffle us. They are all ours, and we are all included. On All Saints Day we worship amidst a great fluttering of wings, with the whole host of heaven crowding the air above our heads. Call their names and hear them answer “Present.” On All Saints Day, they belong to us and we to them, and as their ranks swell so do the possibilities that open up in our own lives. Because of them and because of one another and because of the God who binds us all together we can do more than any of us had dreamed to do alone.
This morning’s homily was delivered by Mike Menner, director of Alliance of the Streets, a program of St. Stephen’s Human Services.
Mike concluded his homily with the following words of inspiration:
There is power in remembering our saints. While in some corners saints might be described as “defenders of the faith,” I prefer to think of them as “inviters to the faith.” They have invited us to faith through their actions and their extravagant love. And with that invitation to faith is a parallel invitation to follow their example of action on behalf of all.
So we call out their names. Take a deep breath, remember them, and sing, “All you holy men and women, pray for us.”
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Gathering in Worship
Dispatches from the Periphery
The Shrinking Catholic Tent
A Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany