All Saints’ Day is a celebration of all Christian saints, particularly those who have no special feast days of their own. It is also known as All Hallows Tide, All-Hallomas, or All Hallows’ Day.
The Catholic Church, which, every day in the year, places some Saints before our eyes to honor and imitate, represents them all to us today; hence today’s festival is called: The Feast of All Saints. The origin of it was as follows. There was, at Rome, a magnificent temple, which had been built before Christ, by Marcus Agrippa, and was called the Pantheon or Temple of all the gods, because they were all worshipped therein. This idolatrous temple had not been torn down like many others, but Pope Boniface IV. consecrated it according to Catholic usage, to the Virgin Mother and all the Saints. To the greater edification of the people, he had many relics of holy Martyrs placed in it with due magnificence, whence this Church received the name of the Church of the holy Martyrs. In after years, it was ordered by Pope Gregory IV. that, not only the festival of the holy Martyrs, but also that of all other Saints, should be celebrated in the above mentioned Church and in all Christendom.
The reasons for instituting this festival were the following: First, it cannot be doubted that the number of Saints who reign with Christ in heaven is very large. “I saw so large a number,” says St. John, ” that nobody could count them.” To speak only of those who became martyrs for Christ’s sake, they, according to authentic historians, already in the first centuries of the Church, numbered 17 millions. Who can count the other Saints, as well of the Clergy as the laity, who served God faithfully and died in His grace? The number of the Saints is very great, but most of them are unknown to us. We know the names of the holy Apostles, of many apostolic men, many founders of religious orders, many popes, bishops, religious, hermits, virgins, widows, married people, nobles, princes, kings and emperors; but there is a number far exceeding these, whose very names are unknown to us. And as it is but just that we, who are yet in the Church Militant and are united by the bond of charity with the Saints, should honor them duly, as they are honored as true servants and friends by the Almighty Himself, the holy Church has appointed this day for honoring them all together, as it is not possible to consecrate a separate day to each of them.
The second reason is contained in the prayer which the Church on this day recites in Holy Mass: “That on account of the great number of our intercessors, God may bestow on us, more abundantly, the desired gifts of His liberality.” No Catholic doubts that the Saints in heaven, because they enjoy the favor of the Almighty, can obtain for us by their intercession many graces, of which we are not worthy, on account of our sins. For, it is known that, while they were still living on earth, they not only averted much evil from mankind by their intercession, but also drew down many benefits upon them. That we may therefore obtain more surely all that we need or that is useful for our salvation, the holy Church has ordered that we shall today call upon all the Saints as our intercessors, trusting implicitly that the Most High will not disregard the entreaties of so many of His friends.
The third reason is as follows: The Church according to St. Bernard, represents to us so many Saints, in every station in life, to encourage us so that we may not only venerate them, but also imitate their virtues; and that as we call them blessed, so we too should strive after that salvation which they have already attained. Hence, also, the Gospel of the Eight Beatitudes is read today; as in it the road is pointed out and explained, by which the Saints have reached heaven; a road which we too must walk, if we wish to join them in heaven.
INTROIT Apocalypse 5: 12, 1
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a feast day in honor of all the Saints, on whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and join in praising the Son of God. Ps 32:1 Exult, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright if fitting. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast granted to honor in one solemn Feast the merits of all Thy Saints: we beseech Thee, that since so many are praying for us, Thou wouldst pour forth upon us the abundance of Thy mercy, for which we long. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Apocalypse 7: 2-12
Lesson from the Book of The Apocalypse of Blessed John the Apostle. In those days, behold, I, John, saw another Angel ascend-ing 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: a hundred and forty-four thousand were signed out of every tribe of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were twelve thousand signed: of the tribe of Rube 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 lssachar 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 thanksgivinq, honor, and power, strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 33: 10, 11
Fear the Lord, all ye His Saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. V. But they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Matt. 11: 28) Come to Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 5: 1-12
At that time: Jesus seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain: and when He was sat 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. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for They shall have their fill. 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. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you and persecute you, and speak ail that is evil against, untruly, for My sake: be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in Heaven.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Wisdom 3: 1-3
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.
We offer Thee, O Lord, the gifts of our devotion; that they be made pleasing to Thee for the honor of all the just and, by Thy mercy, be profitable to ourselves. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matt. 5: 8-10
Blessed are the clean of heart; for they shall see God: Blessed are the peacemakers 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.
Grant to Thy faithful people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, ever to rejoice in the veneration of all Thy saints and to be defended by their unceasing prayers. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.