Happy Octave of All Saints
November 01, 2021
The liturgical seasons seem to be flying by as quickly as leaves falling off the trees. While we gear up for sweater weather and hot chocolate (depending on where you live) we will soon be preparing for Advent. Before we anticipate the birth of our Savior, however, we have two important feast days back to back this month. These days are of the utmost importance to the Church because they focus on our ultimate destiny of sainthood, while also leaning on the importance of prayer for those who have passed before us. Of course, I am talking about the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd.
The reality of salvation is a cornerstone for the Christian faith and is available to all, no matter where we have been or the things we have done. The Catechism explains, “It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, ‘for the love of Christ urges us on.’ Indeed, God ‘desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth.” -CCC 851
This is the reason the Church, in all her brilliance, has the faithful celebrate the models who reside where we are meant to go while at the same time praying for those on the journey. We can call these life phases or states of sanctity The Church Militant (the Church on earth), The Church Suffering (those in purgatory), and The Church Triumphant (those in heaven). These three make up the communion of saints and the mystical body of Christ; all of us on the same journey to complete total oneness with God.
When I think of the reality of the communion of saints, I like to think about the iconic scene from Guardians of the Galaxy, where Groot offers himself for all of his friends. If you haven’t seen the film, all the main characters are crashing toward the earth on a ship. Groot is a human-tree hybrid who can only say three words, “I am Groot.” While they are spiraling out of control and everything seems lost, Groot wraps them all up in his branches to protect them from the oncoming explosion and for the first time says the tear-jerking words, “We are Groot.”
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I can’t help but reference this scene when faced with the reality of what Christ has done for all of us on the cross to save us. All of us, as the communion of saints, become one in our future state in heaven where we participate perfectly in the divinity of God. Are you ready for a mic drop? Pope St. John Paul II in Theology of the Body 68:4 says, “We should think of the reality of the other world in the categories of the rediscovery of a new, perfect subjectivity of each person (solitude) and at the same time of the rediscovery of a new, perfect intersubjectivity of all (unity). This means the true and definitive fulfillment of human subjectivity and, on this basis, the definitive fulfillment of the spousal meaning of the body. In this way the eschatological reality will become the source of the perfect realization of the trinitarian order in the created world of persons.”
So what does that mean? We can speak of subjectivity as our interior self or what Adam experienced as solitude. Much more than just being lonely, solitude deals with the inner workings of the heart that are known only to God and those we actively allow to enter in. Intersubjectivity, as used here, can be thought of as how we relate and commune with others. So Pope St. John Paul II is making the bold claim that in heaven we will be perfectly fulfilled in our interior self, in our relationships with others, plus we will realize the love of the trinity in a more profound and deeper way than was ever possible before; perfection at its finest.
This is what we celebrate during All Saints Day and All Souls Day. We pray for those who are on the cusp of perfection and we look to the example of those who have made it. If that wasn’t enough, there are also some plenary indulgences offered by the Church during this time that you can find HERE. Let’s all take this Octave of All Saints (November 1-8) as a time to anticipate our future, pray for those who have died, and look to the example of the many saints who are completely happy with God in heaven. From all of us here at Ruah Woods, God bless!