November 6th is the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland. This feast was inaugurated by Pope Benedict the fifteenth, in the 1920s. The feast celebrates the great and the good of the Irish Christian family. It celebrates all, who over the years gave witness to Christ in so many ways. From the disciples of St Patrick to the babies who will be baptised this week, the link of faith is still strong.
But who are the saints of Ireland? Of course there are the great ones, the Bridgets and Finians, the Columcilles and the Itas, the founders of the faith as we know it. There are the canonised ones, St Laurence O’Toole, St Fergal, St Malachy, St Oliver Plunket and the various blesseds whom the Church has proclaimed saints. There are the countless martyrs who died for their faith, or who even recently left the shores of our island to spread the Good News far and wide as missionaries. But there are more than these that we celebrate!
The 6th November is the feast of all our deceased loved ones who have joined the Communion of Saints. We pray for our beloved dead in November, and by God’s grace, we can hope that many of them are at this moment celebrating Eternal Life in the presence of God. We are all called to the saints, as St Paul tells us in the letter to the Romans.
The feasts of November, All Saints, All Souls and All Saints of Ireland in the words of Pope Benedict XVI should “be for each one a fruitful occasion to raise our sights to heaven and contemplate the future, final and definitive realities that await us." (said at the General Audience in Rome last Wednesday).