In just a few days, 1 November, we celebrate the Solemnity of all Saints. On this great feast day, we celebrate those men, women and children who are in heaven, but not on the Roman Calendar. Reality is that we don’t have to be canonized by the Church to go to heaven. Canonization is a formal process that declares that a person lived heroic virtue and is worthy of the “cult of saints.” Not “cult” in the sense of a false religion. For Catholics, the word cult means a form of worship or honor. There are two kinds of cultus in the Catholic Church. One is called dulia and the other latria. Latria is worship and adoration given to God alone. “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) But, there is also something we call dulia. Dulia is a theological term signifying the honor we pay to the saints and the prayerful intercession we ask of them. Hyperdulia is the veneration we offer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
So, dulia and hyperdulia in a worldly sense is like the pictures of our loved ones sitting on the bookshelf in our homes. We look upon the picture of our deceased grandmother with great love and veneration. We know that she is not God, we still love her with all our hearts. God comes first in our lives and our loved ones follow behind. But we still have that connection with our saints that has been given to us by our loving Father. They are our family in heaven, praying for us, rooting for us, giving us their examples of total self giving to the Lord and doing all the God allows them to do to help us get to heaven.
Sometimes we look at the world around us and see all that is bad, all the is evil. And, there sure is a lot of that today. But, we often fail to see what is good, true and holy. I have been blest by the Lord to know at least a few saints. And I’m sure you have known at least one.
The first picture is a week or so after my ordination to the priesthood. I made a pilgrimage to Rome to visit our family friend Cardinal Ciappi in the next picture. I had the awesome blessing of concelebrating with Saint John Paul, II in his private chapel in the Papal Apartments. The second picture is during that visit to Rome when I concelebrated with Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, O.P., Theologian of the Papal Household. One is canonized and the other is not, at least yet. Cardinal Ciappi was indeed a very holy and saintly man. I believe he is in heaven. If you would have know the good Cardinal, I think you would believe the same. So as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let us give thanks to the Lord for the good example of all those unnamed saints, who lived their lives quietly in their little corner of the world and made a difference, even if no one else saw it.
Meeting Saint John Paul, II after concelebrating Mass in his private chapel
A picture after concelebrating with my friend Cardinal Ciappi, and my friend and his secretary Fra Mario