SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS
November is marked by the secular as “Halloween.” Yes it is hallowed; it is holy, because we celebrate the Holy God who work in holy people of different age, status, and time. We honor the holy people, specifically known and general, whom we love and venerate. We honor all the Saints, a manifestation that our Church is truly a "Mother of the Saints, an image of the Eternal City"
Since time and beginning, God calls each of his beloved to follow him. We marked them as patriarchs, priests, prophets, kings, and those who followed the will of God in the Old Testament. They are features of the consecrated and chosen people – the Israelites - during that time.
In the New Testament, Jesus called twelve men to be his disciples, an invitation to be holy by serving with him to proclaim God’s kingdom and conversion. It was the disciples who heard, and first challenge to live and believe the beatitudes, the teachings of Our Lord, and, most especially, witness and follow the way of love of Jesus – his passion, death, and resurrection.
After the glorious ascension of Jesus into heaven, now, the apostles were gifted by the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day. They were strong and confident, with love and humility, proclaiming the Gospel to different races. They chose helpers – disciples, who were inspired by the life of Jesus, and who wish to continue to Messianic mission of Our Lord continued by the apostles. The Word of God and in the Breaking of the Bread, many were fed with the spirit of Jesus and to live according to the will of God – a blessed life. This was manifested when Stephen, one of the first deacons, offered his life out of love for God and faith in Jesus Christ.
The Book of Revelation is one of the best sources where we can see how these holy people are rewarded by the Lord, faithful to his promise in the beatitudes. In the book also we can read how the people of God, the holy people, celebrate the victory of Christ’s paschal mystery.
Veneration of Martyrs
During the fourth century, early Christians venerate the martyrs of our faith. They celebrate it on their Dies Natalis (day of birth in heaven). Due to numerous martyrs that offered their life on one day, they celebrate them as a group. The Church as a mother, doesn’t want one of her children be abandoned or set aside. In Antioch, the Sunday after Pentecost was the first documented testimony that Christians venerate the martyrs in one day. The homilies of our Church Fathers like St. John Chrysostom and St. Ephrem of Syria testify to the said celebration.
Due to holy men and women who are not martyrs, the Church also needs to accommodate them in the liturgical calendar. In the year 411, the Chaldean Christians have a day in the liturgical calendar called “Commemoration of Confessors” which is on Friday after Easter.
First All Saints’ Day
May 13, 609 or 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated a Church, the Pantheon. The Pantheon is a famous place because this is where the Romans worship all their gods. When Christianity hover over Rome, some of the palaces and mansion were turned into places of worship. The Pantheon was dedicated under the titular Sancta Maria ad Martyres (Holy Mary and all Martyrs). The day of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres became the first date of celebrating all Holy Men and Women in the Roman Church.
During the pontificate of Pope Gregory III (731-741) he consecrated a chapel in Saint Peter’s Basilica dedicated to all the Saints on November 1. This is a chapel reserve for the relics holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors. From then on, November 1 became the feast of All Saints setting aside May 13.
At the Frankish empire there was a celebration for the Festival of All Saints. On 835AD, it was made a holy day of obligation in the whole Frankish empire, and then made universal by Pope Gregory IV. Pope Sixtus IV add an Octave, where the feast of Holy Relics falls for celebration.
The Solemnity of All Saints
Since the liturgical era of the Council of Trent until Vatican II, November 1 was untouchable and has the level of a Solemnity (with Gloria, Second Reading, and Credo). The celebration today echoes the preface of All Saints: “Today, we keep the festival of your holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother.”
November 1 is a holy day of obligation in some countries, though it is not a holy day of obligation in our country it is still a holiday.
For Filipinos, we must set a notion that November 1 is a celebration of All Saints, the living holy men and women of every time and place who are in heaven. It is a day of great reminder for all of us that we are all called to be saints.
Pastors must have a heart to lead their flock in understanding this wonderful celebration of our Church and our faith. Catechism on the role of the saints in our lives must be given. Much more, ways and exercises of holiness is timing for this season like: Solemn Eucharistic Celebration, Confession, Retreat and Recollection, Work of Charity, etc.
During this day, the community must have a local festival of All Saints like the exposition and veneration of the relics of the saints, presentation of the lives and works of the saints, and many more.
During the Liturgy of the Hours and/or Eucharistic Celebration on the solemnity of All Saints on November 1, or if the local community wishes to honor them through a votive mass for All Saints, the relics of the saints or blessed can be exposed publicly for veneration of the faithful so that through this celebration they may invoke their help that we, who honor them, be holy and with their prayers bring us the forgiveness and love of God.
Pope Benedict XVI gave a wonderful homily on All Saints' day of 2006: This, then, is the meaning of today's Solemnity: looking at the shining example of the Saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God's friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. And this is the vocation of us all, vigorously reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council and solemnly proposed today for our attention.
 Cf. Dt. 7: 6
 Ac. 7: 60
 Cf. Rev. 19: 1-5
 Opening Prayer on the Solemnity of All Saints