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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers All Saints.

Our English word "saint," derived from the Latin sanctus, is used in a variety of ways. Literally it means holy, set apart for God, consecrated, or dedicated. In the New Testament, hagios, the Greek word for saint, is used to refer to all baptized Christians, many of whom were far from exemplary. Paul sometimes scolded the saints for their corrupt and decadent ways.

When we use the word saint in the context of All Saints's Day, we refer especially to those Christians who have lived such hallowed lives, yielding so fully to the Holy Spirit, showing such love for God and his human creatures, that their examples are treasured and emulated. These individuals, a few of whom are remembered in this book, are the champions of Christ and his church and the heroes of the faithful.

In medieval times the Roman Catholic Church developed an elaborate system called cannonization for designating and selecting the saints. The Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Churches have been much less systematic in deciding who would be called a saint. Virtually all Christians acknowledge that it is ultimately God who decides who his holy ones are and none of our judgments or acclamations presume to make such decisions for him. Our intention is rather to share and rejoice in the knowledge of those who have done good things in his name in all times and places.

Help us to take seriously our own vocation as saints, as the holy ones of God. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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