By Mark Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — In a Mass for All Saints’ Day at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, Cardinal-designate Wilton D. Gregory said the Nov. 1 feast day was a reminder and an invitation that all people are called to be saints by living everyday lives of holiness.
“God’s mercy and God’s compassion continue to invite all of us to holiness and salvation,” Washington’s archbishop said in his homily.
He said the day’s first reading from the Book of Revelation offered St. John’s mystical vision of heaven, filled with wonder that should offer hope to today’s faithful, as a number of people beyond human counting are united with God for eternity. He compared that to the joyful, impromptu “flash mob” gatherings at public parks and malls that were regular occurrences before the coronavirus shutdown.
“The church suggests that all of us who are currently living are also invited to that banquet of life eternal as well,” he said, adding that All Saints’ Day “is a reminder as well as an invitation to believe that God’s saints are not just those the church formally canonizes or publicly identifies.”
He said “the ‘flash mob’ of God’s saints” are those known only to God who accepted his call to holiness, “are united with him in perfect love and happiness, and they fervently wait for us to join them.”
Washington’s archbishop stressed that those in heaven will include ordinary people, including family members, friends and neighbors who lived lives of faith and love.
“This is also a feast to remind us that true sanctity is not something extraordinary or unusual. Sanctity touches everyday lives of ordinary common folk,” he said. “The saints that we honor today probably once shopped at Safeway or Giant, mowed the lawn, maybe even got a traffic ticket or two for speeding by a hidden traffic camera, enjoyed going to the beach, baked chocolate chip cookies and did all of the things that regularly fill all of our lives.”
What made them saints, he continued, is that they lived their everyday lives with humility, and “with great love, with joy, with honesty and with faith.”
“This feast is a reminder that holiness is not beyond the reach of ordinary folks, just like you and me,” he added. “The saints that we celebrate today got to heaven doing all the things we do each and every day, but they did them out of love of God and neighbor and perhaps accompanied with a few mistakes along the way.”
The cardinal-designate said these men and women made holiness accessible to us. He encouraged those at the cathedral and those viewing the Mass online to remember that whatever they do could similarly become “a work of holiness.”
As the beginning of the Mass, Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, the cathedral’s rector, noted that one week earlier, Pope Francis had named Washington’s archbishop as a new cardinal.
Cardinal-designate Gregory will be among 13 new cardinals from around the world to be elevated to the College of Cardinals at a consistory in Rome on Nov. 28.
The congregation applauded, and Msgr. Jameson added: “We thank him for his service in the church and remind him we are praying for him every day.”