Rev 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 Jn 3:1-3 / Mt 5:1-12
This feast of All Saints had its earliest certain observance in the early fourth-century.
It was originally a commemoration of "all the martyrs." In the first 300 years of the Church's history, many Christians witnessed to Jesus with their lives and they were martyred, meaning to say that they suffered horrendous torture and finally lost their lives.
The Church highly honoured these martyrs and believed that they are now with God in heaven.
And it was the Church's early tradition and practice to have recourse to these martyrs for their intercession.
This is an expression of the fundamental belief that there is a deep spiritual communion between those who are in heaven and with the Church here on earth, i.e., the Church triumphant and the Church militant respectively.
As time went by, the Church also acknowledged that there are other paths to holiness, and that is why this feast is called All Saints, and not just the martyrs.
All Saints is generally understood as canonized saints. Canonization is a long process that the Church uses to officially declare that a person had lived a life of holiness on earth and is now with God in heaven.
This is a very profound declaration. The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, confers the title of Saint to a person, and in doing so declares that he/she is in heaven.
Hence, devotions to Saints, is not only a Church approved practice, but we can say that it is a God approved practice.
So we can be confident that when we pray to St. Jude in our desperate moments, or to St. Anthony when we lose something precious, or to St. Pio for safety, we can be assured that that saint in heaven is praying for us and with us.
But more importantly, this feast is a celebration of all the saints in heaven, whether canonized or not. It is a celebration of God's everlasting love for mankind and that He wants us to be with Him in heaven.
The path that the martyrs and the saints took is the none other than the way of the beatitudes which Jesus taught in the gospel.
It is the way of humility, gentleness, mercy and compassion, purity that the saints took that lead them to be with God eternally.
It is a long and narrow way, it is a difficult and painful way. But it is the way of love. It is the way to life. It is the way to be with God eternally.