Solemnity of All Saints
Where I live there are yearly roundups. Cattle are wrestled to the ground and branded with owner’s mark. In the first reading in today’s Mass an angel calls out not “to harm the servants of our God until we imprint this seal on [their] foreheads.” So before the final act, is there going to be roundup time in heaven with angels nailing down “the servants of God”, claiming them with his own fiery brand?
Many – but certainly not most of the billions of these servants of God – will already sport brand or tattoo marks. Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders leave an “indelible mark” on the soul. And it was God who sought these souls out in this life to mark them as his special witnesses to Christ’s victory over sin and death.
Today we pray to the Father: “’Make us an everlasting gift and enable us to share in the inheritance of the saints, with Mary, the virgin mother of God, with the apostles, the martyrs…’ And, Lord, when ‘the [heavenly] bloom is on the [celestial] sage’, grant that we be in the company of the branded and tattooed ladies and gentlemen of past, present and future ages, dressed in long white robes, holding palm branches in our hands, and maybe, while waiting for the final coming of your son, Jesus, singing something like the Halleluiah chorus from Handel’s The Messiah. Amen.”
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.