Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones. Ps 116:15
As we enter into the month of November with Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day we see on the streets by many homes decorations of all sorts including pumpkins, many of them beautifully carved and lit, cornstalks, straw or bales of hay, figures and even headstones. It seems as if the dead moved into our world in these days – the world in which we live. What impels us to remember the dead? Many people look back and remember a loving remembrance, gratitude and solidarity with those who have gone to eternity. Whether we realize it or not, we have strong links to the other world, the world of God's closeness and eternal joy.
With these days before us we want to give thanks and honor the lives of those who are already in eternity, and who gave us a perfect pattern of a happy and worthwhile life. Their lives have truly influenced people around the world. Today, many people follow their example and direct their lives according to the words, deeds and encouragement. Mother Alphonse Marie, encouraged by the example of St. Teresa and St. Alphonsus Liguori, pleaded: “O Jesus, I want to be a saint, even if it should cost my life. Accept me. O my Jesus, I will be ever obedient so I may become a saint.”
Holiness is the strong link with God. It is diverse, for everyone and its always different, according to circumstances, period of time and human traits. Saints can be found as mendicant monks or wealthy kings, priests, and faithful spouses, adults and even children. They had in common only one thing: Jesus Christ was the center of their lives. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor before God, the merciful, the pure in heart, those peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Holy is the one who can "reach God", who invest in their surroundings and relationships, and works to build the common good.
Saints do not fall from the sky, on the contrary, they grow and mature on earth. They also were sinners and many of them aregreatformersinners. Each of them needed forgiveness. They also fought with their passions, weaknesses, mistakes and sins as we do. However, they hoped God's help, knowing that they by themselves cannot do anything good. They looked forward to eternal life and joy, and the fulfillment of all wishes and desires. Mother Alphonse Marie was aware that without the grace of God, we are miserable, weak creatures, incapable of a single good thought. She asked Jesus every day, “O my Jesus, preserve me today from every sin. O my Jesus, never again in my whole life will I commit another sin.” She did not ask Jesus, only, for herself, but she prayed often for the conversion of sinners with confidence that God won’t reject her prayer. Full of hope, she encourages us: “Even if our sinfulness were ever so great, we would find forgiveness at Mary´s feet. God has chosen you as instruments for the conversion of sinners. Thank Him for this unmerited grace. The hour of grace will come for the souls that you want to save. Your prayers, your sighs of love will obtain this grace from Jesus and Mary.”
The streets of heaven are filled with former captives who, through no merit of their own, found themselves redeemed, forgiven, and free. Slaves to sin have become saints. No wonder we will sing a new song—a song of praise to the Redeemer who was slain (Revelation 5:9). We were slaves to sin, condemned to eternal separation from God. In His great mercy, Jesus paid the price to redeem us, resulting in our freedom from slavery to sin and our rescue from the eternal consequences of that sin.
“The saints found their happiness in the very struggles and interior sufferings that so distress you and me. May the thought of heaven give you courage. Consider that the saints became holy only through struggles and suffering. Nothing is more pleasing to God than the prayers, works, sufferings, and mortifications that we offer for souls He has ransomed by His blood. Our lives may be like the saints. Let us walk in their footsteps in carrying our cross and suffering as they suffered. Bear with joy whatever is unpleasant, for you can thereby make reparation for a great number of sinners” encouraged by Mother Alphonse Marie.
Saints are happy because they know how to forgive, they have mercy on others, they do not judge every thing and every one, but try to put themselves in the place of others. Forgiveness is the thing we all need, without exception. If we are able to give others the forgiveness we ask for ourselves, we are blessed. Saints were simple and humble people, who wept, were meek, worked for justice and peace, and above all they allowed themselves to be forgiven by God and became instruments of His mercy.
Imitating their gestures of love and mercy is a bit like perpetuating their presence in this world. These evangelical gestures are indeed the only ones that can withstand the destruction of death: an act of tenderness, generous aid, time spent listening, a visit, a kind word, a smile, etc. In our eyes these gestures might seem insignificant, but in the eyes of God they are eternal, because love and compassion are stronger than death, and, as Mother Alphonse Marie added, “the eyes of God and of the saints are continually upon the loving soul.”
May the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, help us to trust more in the grace of God, and to walk with enthusiasm along the path of holiness. Let us offer our daily efforts to Our Mother, and pray for our dear departed, in the hope of finding each day, in the glorious communion of heaven.