By Derrick Bertram
November is a pretty important month for most people. Activities range from high school football state playoffs and the National Catholic Youth Conference to Thanksgiving and Advent and early Christmas shopping.
As we get ready for these activities, let me give you something to reflect on this November. Most of you are probably aware that the first two days of November are important feast days in the Catholic Church. Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, a day that celebrates canonized and non-canonized saints in our church. Nov. 2 is All Souls Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died this year or in past years.
Now why exactly are these days important in our church? Well, on All Saints Day we recognize and celebrate the lives of saints who are important to our church’s history. But what does it mean to be a saint, and how do you become one? According to the “Merriam-Webster Dictionary,” the word saint has three definitions: “one officially recognized as preeminent for holiness,” “one of the spirits of the departed in heaven,” and “a holy or godly person.”
OK, so basically a saint is a person who is holy, loves God and lives in heaven after he or she dies. But how do you become one?
What if I told you that you already are a saint? Don’t believe me? Well, it’s true. Now I know you’re not known to people around you as St. George, or St. Lisa, or any other name that starts with the word saint followed by your first name. To get the word “saint” attached to your name, someone on your behalf — after you die — would have to recommend you for the process that leads to canonization.
So now you’re probably thinking, “Then why did you say we are saints already?”
Because at the Catholic school I went to, one of our priests explained the process of canonization and told us that we are all called to become saints. He also said that the canonized saints are what he called “Big S” saints, and we are what he called “Little s” saints. We aren’t perfect, but we still should try to be the best saints we can be. If we do good deeds, go to church more often and pray more often we can be one step closer to becoming those “Big S” saints.
Now on All Souls Day, we remember the lives of our loved ones who passed away this year or in years past. It’s one of those feast days where we remember the good times that we had with our loved ones while they were still here on earth. Now it’s hard for some people to do this, I know. I lost a loved one the day before Thanksgiving last year. But we have to remember that we will see our loved ones again, and that they are waiting for us now in heaven. You can also pray the rosary for anyone who has died. At the end of each decade say this prayer:
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy. Amen.”
Every time you pray that during the rosary, you are helping souls in purgatory make their way closer to heaven. Pretty cool, huh?
So remember this November to focus on these two things: Try your best every day to become a better saint. Think of things you can do to make you a better saint, and maybe even a “Big S” saint. And if you think it’s impossible, don’t give up because most likely those “Big S” saints probably didn’t know they would become well-known saints in our church. Remember, they were human just like us.
And secondly, pray for those souls who are in purgatory, and help them get closer to heaven. Also pray for your loved ones who have died. Pray that they make it to heaven and that God will take care of them while they wait for you to meet them.
(Derrick is a junior at Clinton High School, and is a member of Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton. He also is a member of the DYMC.)