Why does the Catholic Church remember the dead during the month of November? Why is it so important to recall the heroic lives of canonized saints?
Do you witness to sanctity? Do you show forth holiness in your life? The bishop that ordained me said this: “Don’t wait until you die to be a saint. That’s too late. Become a saint now.” Are you a saint? On the seal of the high school where I teach is the Latin phrase, “signum fidei.” It means sign of faith. It suggests that in all things we are to see ourselves as signs of faith.
How do we do this? We are a sign of faith when we are generous, faithful, prayerful and kind. We are a sign of faith when Jesus becomes the center of our lives. Each time we see another human being as the image of God, we are a sign of faith. So do not wait to become a saint. Do so now.
Sometimes there are homilies that stay with you. (Hopefully people say this about the homilies I give.) Once such homily for me was about the notion of the saints. The bishop who gave the homily was making the point that sometimes we see holiness as something that will only happen sometime way off into the future. But, he cautioned, if we always see holiness as something way off in the future, then we miss the point. Saints become saints be responding to God in their own lives while they are still alive on earth. It could be too late if we wait too long to answer the personal call to holiness that God gives to us.
Today we celebrate those saints who did not wait. They are those saints who answered the call to God’s holiness. They did not wait, but during their lifetimes responded to God’s grace in a way that led them to embrace the inviation to holiness that God gave them in creating them.
While we clearly celebrate saints that have been recognized as saints, we know there are others, many others, who are also saints but have not been officially recognized as such. Why have such a day as the one we celebrate today? Why does it matter that we celebrate these unknown saints?
The most important reason is that these unknown saints helped those people, in the time they lived, to recognize God more clearly because of their example of a holy life. Their holiness became a witness to call others to holiness. I know in my life I have experienced many examples of faith by watching the witness of others.