When the saints…
Great minds ….
This is how I ended my homily yesterday:
And this is the second great truth that these days remind us of. That the horizon of our Christian vision, the horizon of our hope, extends beyond this life, beyond the grave, to a completion in the full expansion and full enjoyment of the life we have been given already to live in faith, hope and love. We live it in faith and not by sight, wishing one day to see what we now believe. We live it in hope, wishing one day to possess in its full reality what we now possess only in hope. Already, however, we live it in love, the only one of the three great Christian virtues that will survive when all the citizens of God’s holy City are gathered in. Love will define that City: God’s love achieving its final purpose in the love that makes that “great multitude which no man can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev 7:9), and from every age from the beginning of creation until its consummation, makes them one in the joyful possession of God, the full realization of the communion of holy things, the full, perfect communion of the saints. We should all be singing: “, Lord, I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in!”
And this is from the Pope’s remarks at the Angelus on All Saints Day:
On this day we feel revived in us the attraction toward heaven that urges us to quicken the steps of our earthly pilgrimage. We feel our hearts enkindled with the desire to be united with the family of the saints to which we already have the grace of belonging. As a famous spiritual says: “Oh, Lord, I long to be in that number when the saints come marching in!” May this beautiful aspiration burn in all Christians and help them to overcome any difficulty, any fear, any distress. Dear friends, let us put our hands in the maternal hand of Mary, queen of all the saints, and allow her to guide us towards the heavenly homeland, in the company of all the blessed spirits “from every nation, people and language” (Rev 7:9).
In case you’re wondering how the line was rendered in Italian, here it is: “Quando verrà la schiera dei tuoi santi, oh come vorrei, Signore, essere tra loro!” Loses something in translation, perhaps.
P.S. I swear that I hadn’t read the Pope’s remarks before writing my sermon. At our church we didn’t sing that spiritual, but we did sing “Shall we gather at the river,” a hymn that many wrongly think is talking about going down to a river for baptisms, when it’s talking about the great “River that flows from the throne of God” through the holy city of the new Jerusalem (see Rev 22:1-2), so it’s another eschatologically oriented hymn.