See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself, as he is pure.
--1 John 3:1-3
On November 1st, the Church celebrates All Saints Day. It may sound odd to say that the Church “celebrates” dead Christians. Perhaps “remembers” or “honors” would be better. But the Church does indeed celebrate. All Saints Day is called a “holy day” or a “feast” in the various denominations’ documents and that has the unambiguous feel of joy.
What is there to be joyful about when considering our departed loved ones who died in the faith? Well, we’re not celebrating the fact that they’re dead. We’re not even so much celebrating them. What we’re celebrating is our God and what he has done for them.
In his love, Jesus died for those saints. Jesus clothed them with his own innocence. Jesus adorned them with his own Resurrected glory. Jesus took these strangers and (through Baptism) adopted them into his own family. “Beloved, we are God’s children now…”
On All Saints Day, we first thank God for all he has done with those who have gone before us. We thank God that they had faith in Jesus Christ, that their sins are forgiven, and that they faithfully passed that same faith on to the next generation.
On All Saints Day, we also ponder what will become of all the saints—those who died with a true faith. Scripture teaches us that we will all be raised by Jesus on the Last Day. The faithful will be brought into heaven to be with Jesus forever. Not all the details have been revealed to us, but we are taught in Scripture that, as Jesus rose from death never to die again, so will it be with all the faithful.
Finally, on All Saints Day, we thank God for our own faith, a faith handed down to us by our forefathers and foremothers. We thank God that, like the saints before us, we are the recipients of forgiveness, life, and salvation though Jesus. We are united with them in faith and by the blessings we have all mutually received. We praise Christ for making all this possible by his self-sacrifice and Resurrection.
Almighty and everlasting God, you knit together your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys you have prepared for those who love you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.