01 November, the day after Hallow’een, many Christian churches celebrate All Saints Day, and include all saints, known and unknown. I like the ‘unknown’ bit – i’m sure there have been many, many ‘unknown’ saints – in fact i would imagine that it is often an important part of sainthood – remaining unknown.
Of course, I accept that sometimes sainthood calls for a bit of publicity, especially if one of the purposes of the saint’s life is to attract others to a knowledge of the Divine. Sometimes down the ages too, it seems that publicity was thrust upon saints. Society often doesn’t appreciate individuals who try to follow Christ’s example and lead saintly lives and it considers such behaviour as threatening. We are all aware of how society, most societies in fact, react to threats, perceived or real. The reaction is almost always violent and is not conducive to the health of those who are considered to constitute the threat.
or to deal with a threat.
My major departure from Catholicism is that in Catholic theology, All Saints Day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. The priest at Mass this morning told a story about a little boy who was asked by the bishop, “How do you become a saint?”, and the little boy answered, quite correctly, “By dying”. You can’t be a saint and still be alive in Catholic theology. The theory is that you lead a good life on this Earth to be rewarded in heaven and if you lead a saintly life here then you get your reward in Heaven by being promoted to saintly status. The additional perks that you qualify for are not really detailed except that it seems you get physically closer to God. And a halo of course, you get your own halo. I’m not sure that a hierarchial Heaven is not a contradiction in terms – more like the civil service or the Catholic Church than the perfect place to live out eternity.
A cynic might consider that rewards promised in this life and provided in the after life is the ideal scenario for a church which values obedience to its values and edicts as paramount. Nobody knows what happens next. Nobody knows who is rewarded and who is punished – if the life lead on this Earth is saintly or not. That’s assuming, for a moment, that the model of Heaven and the afterlife as proposed by the Catholic Church is a valid one.
My dissatisfaction with this theory of Heaven is due to my belief that our purpose is to become, individually, Divine-like, Christ-like, while living.
The answer to the BIG question;
(silence like on the reality tv shows where the audience waits to hear who is getting kicked off this week)
(silence to heighten the tension)
(silence because the producer doesn’t know when to stop and thinks more is always better)
(and the correct answer is!)
“To realise the Divine within you”
(relief it is not our turn this week – it does not apply to us).
But of course it does, it applies to all of us.
We are all winners on this Reality Show – but first we have to realise that we are all participants – not just viewers.
There are many ways to realise this, to recognise that we are winners, but one of the commonest ways, the most recommended way, is silence!
Yes you heard it here.
Maybe the tv producer was right – you can’t get too much silence.
And the silence leads you to your Divinity,
and that the Divinity is within you.
We are all saints.