In our lives, we have celebrations that we use to remember important even in our lives. We celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries every year. We have reunions of high school and college graduations every couple of years. As a country, we celebrate the founding of this nation on the 4th of July, and remember sorrowful events, such as the attacks on September 11th or the beginning of the US entrance into World War II on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th.
As a Church, we have annual celebrations as well, but instead of focusing on events that happened, we spend more time remembering and celebrating the saints, those Christians who are held up as the example to emulate in Christian living. Throughout the liturgical calendar, the calendar which tells us what feasts and memorials to celebrate, many saints are listed for us to be reminded of their example and celebrate their entrance into eternal life. Some saints are well known: St. John the Baptist, St. Francis, St. Patrick. Other saints are little more than names in a list: St. Clement, St. Sixtus, St. Chrysogonus, to name a couple from the first Eucharistic Prayer.
For as many saints are known and celebrated by Christians throughout the world, many more Christians have gone through their lives living their faith in quiet joy and now enjoy the Beatific Vision in Heaven. While we may not know these men and women, we still take one day a year to celebrate their lives and their entrance into Heaven. This is why we have the solemnity of All Saints, to celebrate the lives and example of all the saints who have ever lived, either known and famous, or unknown and obscure.
We remember these saints, because they have done what all Christians should desire to do. They have passed through this life as faithful Christians. The fullness of God's love has been revealed to them, and as St. John says in his first Letter, they “see Him as He is.” Yet, for those of us here on Earth, God has not been fully revealed to us due to our sinful nature, therefore we do not know what awaits us after our death. However, we do have the examples of the saints, to guide us into Heaven where it will be revealed to us as well.
At this point, some might say, “It is really worth it? We don't know what happens after death, if anything. Why not just enjoy life now and not worry about what will happen later?” In fact, this is a very common position we see and hear in the world today. We live in a world of self-congratulation and self-fulfillment. Many of those who are listed as blessed by Our Lord live lives contrary to the values held by those steeped in the culture.
We have the promise of Our Lord that this world is not the end, and we will receive great rewards in Heaven if we follow Him. To enter into Heaven and receive these rewards, we use the example given to us in the lives of the saints as a road map in following the path which Jesus has laid out for us. It's not an easy path, but the saints show us that it possible for each of us to achieve what Our Lord promises.