Terrance KleinNovember 01, 2021
Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

A Reflection for the Solemnity of All Saints

Readings: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 1 John 3:1-3 Mark 5:1-12a

Dante closes the “Divine Comedy,” his poetic pondering of eternal life, with the image of a large, multiflora rose. Bees drink from its countless petals. It is the Florentine’s version of St. John’s white-robed multitude, and it is what we celebrate on All Saints Day, the communion of saints.

In form, then, of a luminous white rose I saw the saintly soldiery that Christ, With His own blood, took as His bride (XXX.1-3)

Dante has employed a consistent joy of human life, one so constant that we take it for granted: looking upon the multitude whose members create the singular. You only need to do a little mental subtraction to understand. Imagine a single stalk rather than a field of wheat. A lone leaf rather than a tree full of them. One grain of sand rather than a beach.

No human accomplishment comes close to echoing the superabundance that we find in nature.

No human accomplishment comes close to echoing the superabundance that we find in nature. There are a lot of windows in a view of midtown Manhattan, more than anyone would care to count. But what are these compared to a forest?

Try to imagine a world without the myriads of nature. It would be akin to a Hollywood set, satisfying enough until you compare it with reality. The truly astounding thing about God, the utter unity from which the universe emerges, is the multitudes God creates.

We do not live in a world with a few blades of grass, a few flowers, a few birds in the sky. And God did not create a world with only a few people. Dante’s point is that the utter multitude of souls created and redeemed by God is necessary to imagine even a fraction of God’s plenitude. Your beloved grandmother, mourning all those years for her husband; a meek medieval peasant, whose life was passed in fields of France he never inherited; a young Union soldier, thirsting for righteousness, who fell at Antietam. You and your great granddaughter. All these were created to be in endless communion with God and with one another.

Science pales into the transparent before the wonder, the bewilderment, of faith. Who cares how all these things came to be? And even if science were allowed a near eternity to count what is in the world and how it came to be, it would need still another eternity to take in the difference between two souls.

Ponder what we call the Communion of Saints. If you understand that we, those who came before and those yet to come, are not ocean waves, lasting but an instant in the eyes of eternity and then gone, you will find great delight. If you consider that each soul is like a star, destined never to be extinguished, you will tremble.

More: Saints

The latest from america

A woman in Toronto receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation center April 1, 2021. (CNS photo/Carlos Osorio, Reuters)
Canadians have embraced coronavirus vaccination in large numbers and are feeling a deepening exasperation with the unvaccinated.
David AgrenNovember 30, 2021
As Dorothy Day's cause for canonization moves forward, her writings continue to offer a prophetic Christian witness to a complacent world.
James T. KeaneNovember 30, 2021
Revs. Brian Strassburger and Louie Hotop have started a podcast documenting their ministry in the Rio Grande Valley along the U.S.-Mexico border. The aim of the podcast is to explore immigration through a lens of Catholic social teaching.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 23 that an Indiana trial court “committed reversible error” when it dismissed a former teacher’s lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis earlier this year.