All Saints Day

It is ALL SAINTS DAY. It is the day on which Christians remember the contributions made by many remarkable men and women who have lived before. Among my favorites are St Francis of Assisi, whose name was chosen by the current Pope, and who is the patron saint for the environment. Another is St Ives who is the patron of lawyers who gave away all of his money to the poor and devoted his life to providing free legal advice and services, And then there’s St Zita who is the patroness of impossible causes, not merely “lost causes” (that belongs to St Jude) but to absolutely hopeless and impossible causes.

I also remember today ROY PHILLIPS, a Unitarian clergyman in St Paul, Minnesota. Personally, I believe Roy to have been the best preacher of all time and he should be canonized for that alone. When my little girl died, he stood at the pulpit and argued with God. It’s what I wanted to do although I was not able to summon the emotional strength to do so. Roy did it for me, and I believe he bested God in the debate.

In another sermon delivered on All Saints Sunday, Roy urged us to remember not only the “official” Saints of Christendom, but the other Saints as well.  “Saint” Gandhi, for example, who led a nation to independence while committed to the ethic of nonviolence. And “Saint” Martin Luther King Jr. who followed on Gandhi’s path.

We should remember “Saints” Dorothy Day, Bayard Rustin, Dag Hammarskjold, Florence Perkins, Salvador Allende and Phil Ochs too.

And there are living Saints as well, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai come to mind.

I think Roy Phillips was right. We have this day to focus our attention on real humans who can serve us as models. These are people who managed against all odds to be better than most of us. They did not do so because of divine incarnation or angelic favor. They were human, and yet able to overcome their base humanity to become fully human. Humanity, our curse, is also our blessing. We can be better than we are, and they have shown us the way. Today, give thanks for All the Saints, and for the Saints in our own lives. As we do so let us strive to be like them, so that someone at some future All Saints Day, may give thanks for us.


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