In his homilies, Father Bob Warren, SA, frequently poses a poignant question and couples it with a sage answer:
“What is a Saint? A sinner who never gives up.”
The holy men and women who have gone before us, indeed, never relinquished continuous prayer or their faith in God. As such, each year on November 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. The occasion commemorates all known and unknown holy men and women who have attained Beatific Vision in Heaven. It is celebrated not only by Catholics, but by many different Christian denominations.
And, its roots can be traced back centuries.
In the year 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV formally started what became All Saints Day, when on May 13 he dedicated the Pantheon in Rome as a church in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs. The day came to be observed on November 1 over 100 years later, when Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to honor every Saint in history.
The Saints are entrusted by God with the important and sacred job of intercession – in essence, bringing our prayers to the Lord. The example they each set in their lives with their holiness also helps connect us to God and all that is good.
At Graymoor, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement hold many Saints dear to their hearts.
The Friars maintain a special devotion to St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who in 1919 was first recognized under the title of Our Lady of the Atonement. The Friars’ charism of reconciliation and healing has been committed to her.
St. Anthony of Padua has long been an important Saint to the Friars, who have described him as their “Big Brother” over the years. Each June, pilgrims by the thousands descend upon the Holy Mountain for the annual Feast of St. Anthony Celebration.
Recently, the Friars held their first-ever Celebration of St. Padre Pio, a more contemporary Saint and fellow Franciscan Friar who was blessed with the Holy Stigmata. He died in 1968 and was canonized in 2002.
And of course, there is St. Francis of Assisi, who left behind the legacy of the Franciscan Order. St. Francis was known for his spiritual connection to the beauty of nature and his relationship with animals. The Friars honor him each October, as pilgrims bring their pets to Graymoor to be blessed by a Friar. This year, about four dozen dogs and two cats were given blessings.
While the Friars never cease in asking these and many other Saints for their intercession, they are also praying their founder attains Sainthood in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, SA, who founded the Society of the Atonement with Mother Lurana White, SA, was a champion for Christian unity and charity up until his death in 1940. Father Paul worked tirelessly throughout his life to realize Jesus’ prayer during the last supper “that all may be one.” His cause for Sainthood officially opened in September of 2015 after artifacts and documents illustrating his holy life were sealed for shipment to Rome.
In December 2018, the supplemental inquiry was closed and accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Seven months later, the Congregation completed its examination of all the documents that were sent to it, and officially closed the diocesan phase of the canonization process. Father Paul was subsequently named a “Servant of God.”
Father Paul is currently in the phase of canonization called “Positio,” where a summary of his life and virtues are being prepared. Father Richard Gribble, CSC, a professor at Stonehill College and a scholar in Church history, is the scribe at Graymoor who is penning Father Paul’s biography.
Once it is complete, it will be presented to a Theological Commission appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to determine if Father Paul’s case for Sainthood will move forward. If voted in the affirmative, a Decree of Heroic Virtue will be presented to the Pope, who will determine whether to approve it or not. If the Holy Father approves the Decree, Father Paul will be known as “Venerable,” the second of four steps toward sainthood.
An All Saints Day Prayer
“Lord, as the Saints in Heaven adore You for eternity, I beg for their intercession. Saints of God, please come to my aid. Pray for me and bring to me the grace I need to live a holy life in imitation of your own lives. All Saints of God, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.”