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All Saints Day

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/31 at 12:00 AM

In the quaint little city of Ghent, Belgium, about 40 minutes outside of Brussels, is one of the world’s true artistic treasures – a masterpiece, really – known as the Altarpiece of Ghent. It is also sometimes referred to as the Adoration of the Mystical Lamb.

Composed of 12 different panels that are all hinged together, the primary panel in the center depicts the scene of Heaven that we hear about in our first reading from St. John’s Book of Revelation.

The scene is one of a verdant pasture, while in the background can be seen the spires of Jerusalem, reminding us that this is Heaven, the New Jerusalem.

In the center is the Lamb, standing upon an altar and surrounded by angels and a “great multitude from every nation, race, people, and tongue wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”

These saints, who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” stream toward our Lord from every corner to give Him glory and honor.

The Lamb, of course, is Christ, and angels holding symbols of His Passion surround him. Blood gushes from His wounded breast into a golden chalice. Yet there is no pain on the Lamb’s face, but rather an expression of triumph.

Indeed, the instruments of His Passion and His bloody wound are the signs of His triumph over sin and death, and because of His wound, we can all be healed.

Hovering above the Lamb of God is the Holy Spirit, depicted as a dove. Emanating from both the Holy Spirit and the Lamb are rays of celestial light that illuminate the entire scene. For there is no sun or moon to illuminate Heaven; only the glory of God!

Truly, it’s a remarkable piece of art – one that I like so much that our mural that we are in the process of creating for our apse wall will be modeled after it.

Included in our mural will be saints from across our Catholic history, as well as important Biblical figures from both the Old and New Testaments. My hope is that it will be the most significant piece of religious art in diocese.

My hope is that our mural will be one great way that we can give glory and honor to our Lord, as He so richly deserves.

As I mentioned on Sunday, I’ve spoken a lot about sin in the past several months, and for many reasons. Sin is the great enemy. What we must remember is that sin and God are mutually exclusive. They cannot and will not exist together. There is no sin in Heaven.

So in addition to being in a state of grace at the moment of death, to be admitted into the glory of Heaven, we must also be purified of our sins – either in this life or in Purgatory. We must be pure and holy!

But holiness does not come easy, does it? Try as we might, we all fail to live up to our calling as Christians. Thus, we need help if we are to be holy. That’s where the saints come in!

As those of you who come to daily Mass know, even though I preach a good bit on sin, I preach more about the saints than anything else.

Moreover, in building and decorating this church, we’ve gone to great lengths to incorporate many, many images of the saints: in our stained glass, in our statues, and eventually in the mural that we’re creating for the apse wall.

This is because I want you never to forget how important the saints are to us!

While we should, of course, fix our eyes firmly on Jesus and make Him the focus of our worship, it’s important for us to have the example of the saints ever before us.

The saints remind us that holiness is truly possible in this life, no matter what our circumstances may be.

So many of the saints were faced with incredible challenges and problems, and yet they persevered through them – and they show us how to do the same thing!

The saints show us how us to suffer well so that we grow in holiness through our sufferings. They even show us how to find joy and peace in the midst of suffering.

In their writings and by their very lives, the saints teach us the truth and beauty of our Catholic faith. They also pray and intercede for us from Heaven!

And most importantly, the saints show us how to love God as He should be loved. And it is in loving God as He should be loved, more than in anything else, that we are purified and made holy. It’s through loving God that we become like Him.

As we celebrate this great Solemnity of All Saints, as we bask in the glory of this great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, let us trust in their intercession to help us in whatever struggles life brings to us.

Let us look to their example of heroic virtue and purity of life and seek to imitate it for the glory of God and the sake of our souls.

Like the saints in Heaven, let us live out the Beatitudes with faithfulness and integrity so that we may one day join them around the altar of the Lamb.

All you saints in Heaven, pray for us!

1 November 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

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