Grace of God’s love – Daily Prayer

Many Catholics would be confused to realize that the eve of All Saints’ Day is celebrated in some churches as Reformation Day and is dedicated to Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, the then Augustinian monk Martin Luther is said to have posted his theses on the church door in Wittenberg out of indignation at the indulgence trade and other abuses.

This was the first in a series of events that led to the separation between the Catholic and Reformed Churches in Germany and elsewhere. At that time, Catholics could not have imagined that Luther could overthrow the gathering of saints on All Saints’ Day. For many, there is still a long way to go.

The feast of All Saints’ Day commemorates Catholics who have earned a reputation for holiness. They were recognized as worthy of worship and people prayed to God through them. From the dawn of Christianity, the shrines of the martyrs were places of prayer to which Catholic authority attached importance. Praying through the martyrs gave strength and strength to Christians who were forced to reckon with what it might cost to follow Jesus’ path. Over time, Christians who had died peacefully after exceptionally devotional lives have been shown a similar reverence. For many Catholics, praying to the saints was a visit to the family doctor. You could have a good relationship with saints; praying to them helped them reflect on their sanity; Listening to the lives of the saints helped them see what a healthy Christian life was like. Saints were like the rainbow. They broke the light of Christ into many different ways of following Jesus.

Saints were local too. They were connected to specific villages and regions, like a divining rod through which God’s gifts could come, and accessible because they were familiar. You had known your grandparents and ancestors, and their relatives could still be seen. Holiness was rooted in families, in local festivals, and in the communal life of villages, towns, monasteries, and cloisters. The local saints also reminded you that your own deceased family members were with them and could be the focus of your prayer. The feast of All Saints’ Day could point both to the many people recognized as saints by the Church and to the truth that as members of the people of Christ we are all holy, all saints.

One of the temptations to honor saints is to think that Jesus only likes people who are truly and obviously holy. That he has special friends. In the gospel he does, of course, but they were often disruptive, excluded from polite society, controversial, and despised. He came to call public sinners, not the righteous, and he was rejected because he spent time with them and counted them among his followers. In the Gospel stories, among them are extortionate tax collectors, invading soldiers, prostitutes, the people who denied him, ran away in danger and passionately persecuted his followers. It was they who believed in him. We know many of them as saints. And we know such people among the saints of our day.

To many, the idea of ​​saints may be strange. But we have all been touched at times by the kindness and hope of the most unlikely people, and inspired by our memories of them.

That’s one reason we could be kind to Martin Luther on the eve of All Souls’ Day – Halloween. He was the great troublemaker, disrupted the peace of the Church, incited abuses, outraged the pious, divided families, cities and nations, and broke Christianity. His legacy includes the breaking of relationships and the birth of hostilities. Yet he was deeply attached to Jesus and the life changing grace he brought. He believed in him. It also presents a facet of the story of Jesus and his discipleship.

Luther didn’t have much time to worship the saints – he wrongly saw worship as part of a grace machine. So it’s good that he can see All Saints’ Day up close, but still from the outside. He reminds us of the grace that is God’s love and the strange shapes it can take.

Fr. Andrew Hamilton SJ is an editorial advisor to Jesuit Communications

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