When we celebrate the saints, we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ, who is our life, may manifest Himself to us as He did to them and that we may one day share in His glory.
St Bernard of Clairvaux
All Saints – Feast: 1st November
The Solemnity of All Saints celebrates all those who are in Heaven, in the light of God’s face – both those recognised by the Church as saints and those known only to the Lord. We ask for their intercession and we strive to follow their example, so that we too can fulfill our vocation to be saints.
Collect for All Saints
Almighty ever-living God, by whose gift we venerate in one celebration the merits of all the Saints, bestow on us, we pray, through the prayers of so many intercessors, an abundance of the reconciliation with you for which we earnestly long. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui nos omnium Sanctorum tuorum merita sub una tribuisti celebritate venerari, quæsumus, ut desideratam nobis tuæ propitiationis abundantiam, multiplicatis intercessoribus, largiaris. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
Litany of the Saints
As found in our book Little Book of Litanies.
Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy, Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us
St Michael, pray for us
Holy angels of God, pray for us
Abraham, our father in faith, pray for us
David, leader of God’s people, pray for us
All holy patriarchs and prophets, pray for us
St John the Baptist, pray for us
St Joseph, pray for us
St Peter and St Paul, pray for us
St Andrew, pray for us
St John, pray for us
St Mary Magdalen, pray for us
St Stephen, pray for us
St Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us
St Lawrence, pray for us
St Perpetua and St Felicity, pray for us
St Agnes, pray for us
St Gregory, pray for us
St Augustine, pray for us
St Athanasius, pray for us
St Basil, pray for us
St Martin, pray for us
St Benedict, pray for us
St Francis and St Dominic, pray for us
St Francis Xavier, pray for us
St John Vianney, pray for us
St Catherine of Siena, pray for us
St Teresa of Jesus, pray for uss
(Other saints may be included here)
All holy men and women, saints of God, pray for us
Lord, be merciful, Lord, deliver us we pray
From all evil, Lord, save your people
From every sin, Lord, save your people
From Satan’s power, Lord, save your people
At the moment of death, Lord, save your people
From everlasting death, Lord, save your people
On the day of judgement, Lord, save your people
By your Incarnation, Lord, save your people
By your suffering and cross, Lord, save your people
By your Death and Resurrection, Lord, save your people
By your return in glory to the Father, Lord, save your people
By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Lord, save your people
By your coming again in glory, Lord, save your people
Be merciful to us sinners, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer
Guide and protect your holy Church, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer
Keep the pope and all the clergy in faithful service to your Church, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer
Bring all peoples together in love and peace, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer
Strengthen us in your service, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer
Jesus, Son of the Living God, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer
Christ, hear us Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us Christ, graciously hear us
Let us pray.
God of our ancestors who set their hearts on you, of those who fell asleep in peace, and of those who won the martyrs’ violent crown: we are surrounded by these witnesses as by clouds of fragrant incense. In this age we would be counted in this communion of all the saints; keep us always in their good and blessed company. In their midst we make every prayer through Christ who is our Lord for ever and ever.
Why Do Catholics Pray to the Saints?
There’s a church in Lourdes in the south of France called the Underground Basilica. Hanging from the pillars, there are dozens and dozens of huge images, pictures of the saints. Some of them are reproductions of famous paintings, some of them authentic photographs.
When I stand in the centre of the building, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of the family of the Church: that we are not alone, that we belong to this great family of faith that stretches back to Jesus Christ and up to heaven.
In the Bible a “vocation” is a calling, a purpose. The fundamental human vocation is to live a life of holiness, to be a saint. Not just to be a saint in heaven, but also to become a saint on this earth.
Jesus Christ gave his life for us in order to save us and to sanctify the Church. He gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can become holy as he is holy.
The saints are not just heroic people who live in history books. They are ordinary Christians who tried to live their faith without holding anything back, to love God with their whole hearts, to love those around them without counting the cost, to give their lives to something truly worthwhile. This is what we were made for. The vocation to holiness gives a profound meaning to each human life.
A great example for me is St Thérèse of Lisieux. She was a young nun in a convent in northern France. She felt she had a special mission, but she couldn’t work out what it was. She prayed intently. She read the Bible, especially the letters of St Paul. And she came to realise that her vocation was to love, and that this vocation included all others.
She was called to love God and her neighbour in the ordinary situations of each day. She decided to trust God, to fulfil her everyday duties with great love, and to leave the rest to him.
This spirituality is known as the Little Way of St Thérèse, because it is about being faithful to God, in the little things of everyday life: loving God and serving your neighbour. But really it is a summary of the New Testament message. Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment: Love one another, as I have loved you”. St Thérèse discovered the secret of holiness in a way that has helped many people since then.
The saints have much in common: faith, hope, charity; a love for Christ and for his Church; a passion for justice; a willingness to suffer for love; a dedication to prayer; an inner joy; a longing for heaven.
But no two saints are alike, because each one reflects the love of Christ in a unique way. Human beings are not clones. We are God’s work of art – each of us unique. We have to find our own way of loving, with all our individual strengths and weaknesses. And we have to work out what God actually wants us to do in each situation. It’s not always clear or easy.
Part of becoming a saint on earth is getting to know the saints in heaven. They are alive with Christ in heaven, and united with us through him.
Some of them have been officially recognised as saints in a formal process that is called “canonisation”. This is when the Church investigates someone’s life and concludes that their life was an example of holiness, and that they are now in heaven. But many other people are surely in heaven, praying for us, without that formal recognition.
We can learn from the example and teaching of the saints. It’s good to read about their lives and build up a storehouse of knowledge about them.
We can ask them to pray for us. Why would we do that? Because Christians pray for each other. And prayer makes a difference. It’s that simple. They are alive in Christ, and we are connected with them through him.
We can talk to them, heart to heart, and experience their spiritual friendship. We can turn especially to those who have become our patron saints because of some connection we have with their history or their vocation.
We never worship the saints. It’s strictly forbidden. Christians worship God alone. We simply honour the saints and talk to them and ask for their prayers, just as we honour and talk to Christian friends and ask for their prayers.
The saints don’t get in the way of Jesus, they help us to know him better, they co-operate with him. That’s what true Christian friendship is about: it strengthens our love for Jesus. If it doesn’t, then something is wrong.
So there are two things to do. You can pray to the saints. And you can pray that you yourself will become one too.
Questions for reflection
Can you think or some well-known saints? What are they famous for?
Who is your personal favourite saint and why? What is your experience of getting to know the saints and praying to them?
What do you think of the idea that God is calling you to be a saint? What can you do about it?!
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