Dancing on the Head of a Pin

There is a legend of St Thomas Aquinas asking "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" At this blog we ask all questions dealing with our faith and spirituality. Some are down to earth, rubber meets the road questions, while others are more lofty...like, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

All Saints


Whenever I go to a cemetery, columbarium, or any other such place where persons are buried or entombed, I always notice benches near graves. Obviously this is where people sit near the graves of their friends and family. But why sit? Is it because they are tired and need to take a break? Or is it something more? I also notice letters and notes placed behind a fresh bouquet of flowers on many of the tombstones? Who is the letter to? The groundskeeper? Certainly not. And then I notice people standing near graves talking. The thing is, most of the time they are by themselves. Are they talking to themselves? I don't think so.
Today is the Feast of All Saints. We celebrate the Church Triumphant and especially those who have lived exemplary lives, so much so that the Church has recognized them as holy. For many, the concept of celebrating the lives of saints is one thing, but they get nervous when prayers are addressed to them or when any form of veneration takes place. But remember the scenes in the cemetery. Remember people sitting near the graves of their deceased. Remember the notes left. Remember the conversations that take place. Our celebration of All Saints is nothing more that what most people do already. Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, talk out loud to our beloved dead expecting them to hear us. Most people believe with all their heart that their beloved dead watches over them. Then why is it so difficult to extend the same belief that St. Stephen, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Julian, and the vast multitudes of persons the Church calls holy, can hear us?
When persons invoke the saints, they are doing the same thing that a dozen people do to me every single week: they ask for prayers. People without thinking will go to priest or some other church leader and ask them for prayers. Mainly because they think that priests and other clergy have "better access" to God. When we ask for saints to pray for us, we are affirming that we are surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses" and that, especially in the Eucharist, the separation between the Church Militant (us on Earth) and the Church Triumphant (those in Heaven) is not as wide as we may think. In fact, it is in the Eucharist that we being one with those who are feasting at the eternal banquet as we are feasting on its foretaste.

Let us give thanks for those holy men and women whose lives continue to guide us by providing the example. And may we rely on the prayers of both those who rejoice in the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.

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