Monday, October 31, 2016

White in the Blood of the Lamb

By Melanie Rigney

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”  (Revelation 7:13-14)

Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? or who may stand in his holy place? One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain. (Psalm 24:3-4)

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

All you holy angels and archangels… all you holy patriarchs and prophets… all you holy apostles and evangelists… all you holy disciples of the Lord… all you holy innocents… all you holy martyrs… all you holy bishops and confessors… all you holy doctors… all you holy priests and Levites… all you holy monks and hermits… all you holy virgins and widows… all you holy saints of God, pray for us.

We don’t know how many of them there are, all those holy, formally canonized saints of God. More than ten thousand, surely. They came from all walks of life… those ordained or called to the consecrated life; teachers; mothers and fathers; caregivers; the chronically ill; musicians; farmers; one-time heretics, prostitutes, adulterers, and murderers. They came from all over the world, hundreds of countries and every continent save Antarctica. Some died before they reached their teens; others lived beyond ninety. Every Catholic schoolchild knows some of their names; others have passed into obscurity.

For all their differences, they had much in common. They loved the Lord, and their faith was so strong that they were willing to die for Him, whether that death came on a guillotine or in front of a firing squad or in the small indignities of everyday life, of not being understood by their friends or families, of being judged for not focusing on a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, fame, and recognition… but on Him.

We also don’t know how many of them there are who haven’t been canonized and may never be, people who finished their time on earth centuries ago or earlier today. They are the fathers who read to us as children, the mothers who figured out a way to make Christmas so memorable with only a few dollars, the spouse who cradled us and listened without trying to solve our problems; the neighbors who picked us for kickball even though we weren’t very good, the friends who understood when we shouted and stamped our feet that it really wasn’t anger at them but fear and self-loathing. They helped us to become better people, better sons and daughters of the King.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “All are called to holiness.” We may not achieve it every moment of our lives, but those who have gone before can teach us much about finding the courage and faith to follow, confident that if we love the Lord and our neighbors as ourselves, we will find ourselves moving closer and closer to holiness.

All you holy saints of God, pray for us.

Break bread with someone who inspires you to live the Lord’s call to holiness.

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