(Saint Catherine of Siena)
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)
There is a reason why the feast of All Saints is, in essence, the culmination of all other Feasts! This is because each new saint is a manifestation of the triumph of the Gospel. Thus, the great spiritual writer, Father Olier, says:
“In a certain sense the feast of All Saints seems to me to be greater than that of Easter or the Ascension because this mystery perfects our Lord. But Jesus as Head is not perfect except in union with all His members, who are the saints….This feast is very glorious because it is an external manifestation of the life hidden in Jesus Christ, for all the excellency of the perfection of the saints is nothing more than an emanation of His Spirit poured forth on them” (The Mystical Evolution, Volume 2, p.501).
It would therefore be a mistake to think that the saints have merely an ornamental presence in Heaven. As Saint Paul says rather boldly at 1 Corinthians 6:2, “Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world.” Commenting on this verse, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible says: “Only here in the Bible do we learn that Christians will condemn both unbelievers (6:2) and fallen spirits (6:3) at the final judgment” (see also Revelation 20:4).
In a profound text entitled, “How the Saints Save and Judge the World”, the great Dominican, Father Albert L. Weiss, says:
“In His merciful Providence God sent each saint to remind the world of its duties and to save it from its corrupt life. The saints, whose lives are a flagrant contradiction to the worldly spirit in general and to that of their own age in particular, are selected as instruments of salvation by the compassionate Doctor to the nations. But he who does not accept them as mediators, must accept them as judges, just as he must accept Jesus Christ, who did not come to judge the world but to save it (John 3:17)…. For those who receive the saints, they are a great means of salvation. A people will never fall hopelessly into corruption as long as they have a single saint” (The Mystical Evolution, Vol. II, p. 373, as edited).
“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were ‘put in charge of many things.’ Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2683).
And on this subject of the importance of the saints, Father Faber warns us to not underestimate the dignity and power they hold:
“The honor of God …is deeply implicated in the worship paid to the saint. In some sense [God] is more jealous of it than of His own; less patient of levity with [His saints] than with Himself, and frequently punishes persons for this [levity]. The saints themselves have entered into the dispositions of God, and, with a sort of vindictive holiness, hard for us in our present state to understand, resent familiarities and impertinences…. Faith is the chief ingredient in a true devotion to the saints; faith is the reality of their power, and of their relationship towards us. It is a great sign of a man being supernatural when he fears to offend a saint. The favors of the saints form a great department of the Divine Mercies, and play an important part in the sanctification of holy men….” (from: Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects, Volume I, pages 381-82.).
Father Weiss explains that “the saints have always been the most faithful sons of the Church….The more united anyone is to the Church, the more certain he is of union with her Founder and Lord, the author of all graces and the model and end of all sanctity. The more tightly one is bound with the mystical body of Jesus Christ, the more he adheres to this divine Head….” (Id at 485).
“All the good we do,” says a great spiritual writer, “Jesus Christ does in us.” Accordingly, “we may say that [Jesus] has done, in a manner, all the good works of the Saints….” Thus, “when we keep the feast of some Saint, we keep the feast of Jesus Christ, who is the author of all the sanctity of the Saints” (Father L. Lallemant, The Spiritual Doctine, p.262).
What could give Jesus more glory than the success of the Gospel verified by the saints? The saints, then, are the fruit of the redemptive Incarnation, and are coheirs with Jesus Christ, sharing in His glory (Romans 8:17). “God is glorified in His saints” ( 2 Thes. 1:10).
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Image: Saint Catherine of Siena by an anonymous painter, 19th century (Public Domain, U.S.A.)
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