When I was a young boy, I collected baseball and football cards. I traded for my favorites and found ways to pass on those I didn’t care for to other individuals. As an impressionable child, I saw these athletes as my heroes. They were famous, rich, and able to bring their teams to victory even when defeat seemed imminent. I cannot imagine the hours I must have spent over the span of my life memorizing the cards, reading articles about the athletes in Sports Illustrated, and watching them play on TV.
When I was older, I realized the pedestal I had put these individuals on was weak and not made of anything real. As I grew in maturity, my grandfather became a true role model for me. He served our country well by spending his life in the military with honor and humility. By the time I came along, he was serving God well by beginning and ending his day kneeling bedside in prayer and attending daily Mass. While not perfect, he was the one who taught me to treat others the way I want to be treated and that the most important relationship we have is the one we have with God.
There was a time when I thought the sun rose and set with folks like my grandfather, Roger Staubach, Earl Campbell, Craig Biggio, and Reggie Jackson. Now I give thanks for those who have witnessed the faith by living holy lives here on earth. During my prayers, I often reflect on the lives of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Augustine, St. Thérèse, St. Bernadette, St. John Paul II, and so many more. Were these people perfect? Of course not. They knew that they were sinners; they also knew how much they loved God and God loved them. They wanted everyone to know it! The saints are our real heroes; they are the ones that we want to model our lives after. We want to pass down their stories from generation to generation.
On November 1, we remember the stories of the holy men and women who are living in the presence of God, whether they have been canonized or not. These men and women lived heroic lives of virtue and faith, and they are role models and intercessors for us. “Men and women saints,” John Paul II told us, “have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult circumstances in the Church’s history.” All Saints Day reminds us that the Catholic Church is the Church of the past, the present, and the future.
Celebrating All Saints Day has become one of the highlights of our catechetical year. At the beginning of October, Confirmation candidates discern a saint they want to study and learn more about. They explore that saint’s life particulars: when and where he or she lived and died, what his or her life was like, plus many more interesting facts. Students also explore how God impacted their saint’s life, what their saint is the patron of, and the saint’s symbol. During the All Saints Day Mass, these students process into the church dressed as their religious heroes while the people are singing the Litany of Saints. Throughout the day, these “saintly” students move from classroom to classroom, bringing the stories of these holy men and women to life.
We can invite the saints into our daily lives by remembering their stories and imitating their virtues. The saints are our brothers and sisters; they now sit with Jesus and act as intercessors, helping us live faithful lives here on earth. During this month of November, let us be intentional in allowing these holy people to accompany us on this earthly journey, so we too can be examples of God’s love in our daily lives.