There was a holiday this weekend. Oh, it wasn’t one of the ultimately significant holidays of the year—not like Christmas or Easter—but it has importance in its own right, and is well worth celebrating. It is a time to rejoice in occurrences that are decidedly out of the ordinary, deliciously gruesome stories, and the dead.
Halloween? I’m talking about All Saints’ Day.
I often regret that the modern Protestant church does not celebrate saint’s days more. It is a shame that the great stories of the heroes of our faith should be forgotten. And what amazing stories they are! Ambrose, a catechumen preparing for baptism, attended a public debate over who would be elected the next bishop of Milan. When the discussion became heated and he called for peace, he was promptly elected himself. During his bishopric, he stood down an emperor and an empress, and protected his cathedral against attack. Saint Catherine was lusted after by an emperor, but she refused his advances, because he already had a wife, and persuasively argued theology with the wise men sent to convince her to give in. The spiked wheel that Roman soldiers bound her to kill her burst asunder. Joan of Arc, a teenage peasant girl, led an army against the English where experienced commanders failed. These stories may seem absurd to us, utterly alien from our daily lives, but I suspect that most people err on the side of believing too little, and not too much. We have an amazing God, and he has empowered his people to do amazing things.
However, sainthood isn’t something that just stopped in the misty, legendary days of the church. There have been brave men and women who have lived and died for Christ all through history, and all over the world. Their stories are too valuable to be neglected. In the late nineteenth century, twenty-two pages of the royal court of Uganda were put to death because of their refusal to compromise their faith. The oldest was just twenty-five years old, and the youngest was thirteen. Mother Theresa, probably the most famous saint of our time, worked tirelessly for the poor of Calcutta, even while experiencing no emotional connection to God. CS Lewis (who has been put on the church calendar of the Episcopal Church, which is the closest an Anglican can get to being officially canonized) wrote masterpiece after masterpiece of apologetics both direct and indirect, inspiring every generation after him with the supreme reasonableness and beauty of our faith.
Even now, as you read this article, someone somewhere in the world is doing amazing things—showing unbelievable heroism in persecution, healing the sick, making art to draw the mind towards God, discovering arguments for Christianity against the new idols of our time. In this week after All Saints’ Day, remember those who have gone before you in the faith, and be enheartened by their bravery, intelligence, joyousness, and trust in God. But also remember that you, too, can be a saint. Perhaps you will never be canonized or put on the calendar, but God can work through you and do miracles—and he will, if you ask him to. It may be somewhat alarming, and it will almost certainly not be what you expected, but God will be with you through it all. And in the end, that is what will last—not the thrilling tales, not the theology, not the glory on earth, but the love of God. That’s the most exciting of all.