Thursday, November 1, 2018

Feast of All Saints

White
Double of the First Class (with Octave)

I saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God!

Time is no more; it is the human race eternally saved, that is thus presented in vision to the prophet of Patmos. Our life of struggle and suffering on earth is, then, to have an end. Our long lost race is to fill up the angelic ranks thinned by Satan’s revolt; and, uniting in the gratitude of the redeemed of the Lamb, the faithful spirits will sing with us: Thanksgiving, honor, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever!

And this shall be the end, as the Apostle says; the end of death and suffering; the end of history and of its revolutions which will then be explained. The old enemy, hurled down with his followers into the abyss, will live on only to witness his own eternal defeat. The Son of Man, the Savior of the world, will have delivered the kingdom to God his Father; and God, the last end of creation and of redemption, will be all in all.

Long before the seer of the Apocalypse, Isaias sang: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and elevated, and his train filled the temple. And the Seraphim cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory. The train and fringes of God’s vesture are the elect, who are the adornment of the Word, the splendor of the Father. For since the Word has espoused our human nature, that nature is his glory, as he is the glory of God. The Bride herself is clothed with the justifications of the Saints; and when this glittering robe is perfected, the signal will be given for the end of time. This feast announces the ever-growing nearness of the eternal nuptials; for on it we annually celebrate the progress of the Bride’s preparations.

Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb! Blessed are we all, who have received in Baptism the nuptial robe of holy charity, which entitles us to a seat at the heavenly banquet! Let us prepare ourselves for the unspeakable destiny reserved for us by love. To this end are directed all the labors of this life: toils, struggles, sufferings for God’s sake, all adorn with priceless jewels the garment of grace, the clothing of the elect. Blessed are they that mourn!

They that have gone before us wept as they turned the furrows and cast in the seed; but now their triumphant joy overflows upon us as an anticipated glory in this valley of tears. Without waiting for the dawn of eternity, the present solemnity gives us to enter by hope into the land of light, whither our fathers have followed Jesus the divine forerunner. Do not the thorns of suffering lose their sharpness at the sight of the eternal joys into which they are to blossom? Does not the happiness of the dear departed cause a heavenly sweetness to mingle with our sorrow? Let us hearken to the chants of deliverance sung by those for whom we weep; little and great, this is the feast of them all, as it will one day be ours. At this season, when cold and darkness prevail, nature herself, stripping off her last adornments, seems to be preparing the world for the passage of the human race into the heavenly country. Let us, then, sing with the Psalmist: “I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Our feet as yet stand only in thy outer courts; but we see thy building ever going on, O Jerusalem, city of peace, compacted together in concord and love. To thee do the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, praising the name of the Lord; thy vacant seats are being filled up. May all good things be for them that love thee, O Jerusalem; may peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers. For the sake of my brethren and of my neighbors, who are already thy inhabitants, I take pleasure in thee; because of the Lord our God, whose dwelling thou art, I have placed in thee all my desire.”

Mass.—Ancient documents referring to this day inform us that on the Calends of November the same eagerness was shown us as at Christmas to assist at the holy Sacrifice. However general the Feast was, or rather because of its universality, was it not the special joy of everyone, and the honor of Christian families? Taking a holy pride in the persons whose virtues they handed down to posterity, they considered the heavenly glory of their ancestors, who had perhaps been unknown in the world, to be a higher nobility than any earthly dignity.

Faith was lively in those days, and Christians seized the opportunity of this feast to make amends for the neglect, voluntary or involuntary, suffered during the year by the blessed inscribed on the general Calendar. In the famous Bull Transiturus de hoc mundo, by which he established the feast of Corpus Christi, Urban IV mentions this as one of the motives that had led to the prior institution of All Saints, and expresses a hope that the new solemnity may in like manner compensate for the distractions and coldness of the rest of the year towards this divine Sacrament, wherein he resides who is the crown and the glory of all Saints.

The Introit Antiphon resembles that of our Lady’s Assumption day. This feast is indeed a sequel to Mary’s triumph. As our Lord’s Ascension called for his Mother’s Assumption, both required for their completion the universal glorification of the human race which provides heaven with its King and Queen. Joy, then, on earth, which continues thus magnificently to give its fruit! Joy among the Angels, who see their vacant thrones filled up! Joy, says the Verse, to all the blessed, who are receiving the congratulations of heaven and earth!

Introit

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore Sanctorum omnium: de quorum solemnitate gaudent Angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honor of all the Saints: at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God.

Ps. Exaultate, justi, in Domino; rectos decet collaudatio. Gloria Patri. Gaudeamus.

Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, ye just: praise becometh the upright. Glory be to the Father. Let us all …

But we sinners, who are still in exile, have always and everywhere need of mercy. Today we may well hope for it, since so many are interceding for us. If the prayer of one Saint is powerful, what must be the united suffrages of all heaven!

Collect

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui nos omnium Sanctorum tuorum merita sub una tribuisti celebritate venerari: quæsumus, ut desideratum nobis tuæ propitiationis abundantiam, multiplicatis intercessoribus largiaris. Per Dominum.

O Almighty, everlasting God, who has granted us to venerate in one solemnity the merits of all thy Saints; we beseech thee, that as our intercessors are multiplied, thou wouldst bestow upon us the desired abundance of thy mercy. Through, etc.

Epistle
Lectio libri Apocalypsis beati Joannis Apostoli. Lesson from the Book of the Apocalypse of blessed John the Apostle.
Cap. vii. Ch. vii.

In diebus illis: Ecce ego Joannes vidi alterum Angelum ascendentem ab ortu solis, habentem signum Dei vivi: et clamavit voce magna quatuor angelis, quibus datum est nocere terræ et mari, dicens: Nolite nocere terrae, et mari, neque arboribus, quoadusque signemus servos Dei nostri in frontibus eorum. Et audivi numerum signatorum, centum quadraginta quatuor millia signati, ex omni tribu filiorum Israel. Ex tribu Juda duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Ruben duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Gad duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Aser duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Nephthali duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Manasse duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Simeon duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Levi duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Issachar duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Zabulon duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Joseph duodecim millia signati: ex tribu Benjamin duodecim millia signati. Post hæc vidi turbam magnam, quam dinumerare nemo poterat, ex omnibus gentibus, et tribubus, et populis, et linguis: stantes ante thronum, et in conspectu Agni, amicti stolis albis, et palmæ in manibus eorum: et clamabant voce magna, dicentes: Salus Deo nostro, qui sedet super thronum, et Agno. Et omnes angeli stabant in circuitu throni, et seniorum, et quatuor animalium: et ceciderunt in conspectu throni in facies suas, et adoraverunt Deum, dicentes: Amen. Benedictio, et claritas, et sapientia, et gratiarum actio, honor, et virtus, et fortitudo Deo nostro in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

In those days, behold I, John, saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying: Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them that were signed, an hundred forty-four thousand were signed, of every tribe of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda, were twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Ruben, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Aser, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Nephthali, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Manasses, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Zabulon, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand signed: Of the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand signed. After this I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the ancients, and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and adored God, Saying: Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honour, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

At the time of his birth, the Man-God, through the instrumentality of Cæsar Augustus, took a census of the world; it was fitting that on the eve of the Redemption, the statistics of the human race should be officially registered. And now it is time to make a fresh enrollment, and to enter in the Book of Life the results of the work of Redemption.

“Wherefore this numbering of the world at the time of our Lord’s birth,” says St. Gregory in one of the Christmas homilies (Lectio vii. in Nocte Natal. Domini; ex Homil. viii. in Ev.), “save for this manifest reason, that he was appearing in the Flesh, who is to enregister the elect in eternity?” But many, having withdrawn themselves by their own fault from the benefit of the first enrollment, which included all men in the ranks of those to be redeemed, there was need of a second and definitive registration, which should cancel the names of the guilty. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and with the just let them not be written; such are the words of the Psalmist, quoted by St. Gregory in the above-mentioned homily.

Today, however, the Church is too full of joy to think of any but the elect; they alone take part in the glorious close of human history described in the Epistle. Indeed, they alone are reckoned before God; the reprobate are but the waste of a world where sanctity alone responds to the Creator’s advances, to the ventures of his infinite love. Let our souls be supple to receive the divine stamp, which is to render us comformable to the image of the Only-begotten Son, and mark us out as God’s coin. Whoever is unwilling to receive the divine impress will inevitably be marked with the character of the beast; and when the Angels come to make the final settlement, every coin unfit to bear the divine stamp will fall into the furnace, where the dross will burn eternally.

Let us, then, as the Gradual recommends, live in fear; not that of the slave, who dreads punishment, but that filial fear, which is anxious never to displease him from whom are all good things, and whose kindness deserves all our love in return. Without losing aught of their beatitude, or diminishing their love, the angelic Powers and all the Saints in heaven prostrate with a holy trembling beneath the gaze of God’s awful majesty.

Gradual

Timete Dominum omnes Sancti ejus: quoniam nihil deest timentibus eum.

Fear the Lord, all ye his Saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

℣. Inquirentes autem Dominum, non deficient omni bono.

℣. But they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good.

Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis, et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos. Alleluia.

℣. Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.

Cap. v. Ch. v.

In illo tempore: Videns, Jesus turbas, ascendit in montem, et cum sedisset, accesserunt ad eum discipuli ejus, et aperiens os suum docebat eos dicens: Beati pauperes spiritu: quoniam ipsorum est regnum cælorum. Beati mites: quoniam ipsi possidebunt terram. Beati qui lugent: quoniam ipsi consolabuntur. Beati qui esuriunt et sitiunt justitiam: quoniam ipsi saturabuntur. Beati misericordes: quoniam ipsi misericordiam consequentur. Beati mundo corde: quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt. Beati pacifici: quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur. Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter justitiam: quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum. Beati estis cum maledixerint vobis, et persecuti vos fuerint, et dixerint omne malum adversum vos mentientes, propter me: gaudete, et exsultate, quoniam merces vestra copiosa est in cælis.

At that time: Jesus, seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him. And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. The poor in spirit: That is, the humble; and they whose spirit is not set upon riches. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.

Earth is so near to heaven today that the one thought which fills all hearts is happiness. The Friend, the Bridegroom, the divine Brother of Adam’s children, comes and sits down among them, and talks of blessedness: “Come to me all you that labor and suffer,” sang the Alleluia-Verse, that sweet echo from our fatherland reminding us withal of our exile. And immediately in the Gospel appears the goodness and kindness of God our Savior. Let us listen to him, teaching us the ways of blessed hope, the holy delights which are at once an assurance and a foretaste of the perfect bliss of heaven.

On Sinai Jehovah held the Jew at a distance, giving him precepts under pain of death. On the summit of this other mountain where the Son of God is seated how differently the Law of love is promulgated! In the New Testament, the eight beatitudes have taken the place occupied in the Old by the Decalogue graven on stone. Not that the beatitudes repeal the Commandments; but their superabundant justice goes far beyond all prescriptions. It is from his Heart that Jesus brought them forth in order to imprint them, more lastingly than on stone, in the hearts of his people. They are the portrait of the Son of Man, the summary of our Redeemer’s life. Look, then, and do according to the pattern that was shown thee in the mount.

Poverty was the first mark of our God in Bethlehem; and who ever appeared so meek as Mary’s Child? Who wept for more noble causes than he in his crib, where he was already expiating our sins and appeasing his Father? They that hunger after justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peace-makers: where, save in him, will they find the incomparable ideal, never attained yet ever imitable? And by his death he became the leader of all those who are persecuted for justice’s sake. In this the highest beatitude on earth, the Incarnate Word takes delight, returning upon it, detailing it, and closing with it in today’s Gospel as with a song of ecstasy. The Church has never had any other ideal; she has ever walked in the footsteps of her Spouse, and her history, throughout the ages, has been but the prolonged echo of the Beatitudes. Let us also understand that we may be blessed both in this world and in the next, let us follow our Lord and the Church.

The evangelical beatitudes raise man above torments, above death itself, which disturbs not the peace of the just, but consummates it. Such is the burthen of the Offertory chant, taken from the book of Wisdom.

Offertory

Justorum animæ in manu Dei sunt: et non tanget illos tormentum malitiæ: visi sunt oculis insipientium mori, illi autem sunt in pace. Alleluia.

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of malice shall not touch them: in the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, but they are in peace. Alleluia.

As the Secret explains, the Sacrifice in which we are allowed to take part glorifies God, honors the Saints, and renders the divine goodness propitious to us.

Secret

Munera tibi, Domine, nostræ devotionis offerimus: quæ et pro cunctorum tibi grata sint honore justorum, et nobis salutaria, te miserante, reddantur. Per Dominum.

We offer to thee, O Lord, the gifts of our devotion; and may they be pleasing to thee in honor of the just, and be made salutary to us by thy mercy. Through our Lord.

The Communion Antiphon, like an echo of the Gospel, repeats the last three beatitudes, referring them, and rightly, to the divine Sacrament whereby they are nourished.

Communion

Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt: beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur: beati, qui persecutionem patiuntur propter justitiam, quoniam ipsorum est regnum cœlorum.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God: blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God: blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

In the Postcommunion, the Church asks as the fruit of this feast that her children may always honor the Saints, and ever benefit by their favor with God.

Postcommunion

Da, quæsumus Domine, fidelibus populis, omnium Sanctorum semper veneratione lætari: et eorum perpetua supplicatione muniri. Per Dominum.

Grant, we beseech thee O Lord, to thy faithful people, ever to rejoice in the veneration of all the Saints, and to be defended by their perpetual supplication. Through, etc.

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