The Hope laid up for us in Heaven
Striving for sanctity is our goal; our only goal!
"Someone has said that we will be surprised at some of the people we find in Heaven, and even more surprised at some of the people we don't find there. There are some who are reputed to be holy, like the hypocrites whom Jesus condemns, who will never see Heaven unless they repent"
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for All Saints Day, he points out that our whole purpose on this earth is to join the saints in Heaven. When someone asks 'how many saints are in Heaven?' the answer is: 'ALL of them', for only the purest gain admittance to the presence of the Beatific Vision. But if you did not know Catholic teaching, you could easily get swept up in the heresy that very few don't go to Heaven for that is the lie that is being spread by modern society today. Those who strive to be saints will not condemn these people, but pray they will wake up just as a hardened criminal did because of the persevering prayers of the Little Flower as Father illustrates in his sermon.
"We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you bear towards all the saints because of the hope that is laid up for you in Heaven" (Colossians 1:3-5).
We celebrate the Feast of All Saints because everyone who goes to Heaven is a saint. There we hope to be one day among the saints. Some saints are officially canonized by the Church so that we will be inspired to follow their example, but they are not of a different species than the rest of us. Their holiness stands out among the crowd, just as some stars shine brighter than others.
We could say that Jesus, our Saint of Saints, is like the sun, Mary is like the moon, reflecting the light of Jesus, and the other saints are like the stars, differing from one another in brightness. As St. Paul says:
"There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown in corruption rises in incorruption; what is sown in dishonor rises in glory; what is sown in weakness rises in power; what is sown a natural body rises a spiritual body" (1Corinthians 15:41-44).
Do all become saints? Since many believe that Hell, if, in fact, it exists, is only for the devil and the fallen angels, and everyone goes to Heaven, then everyone we meet out in that wild and wicked world is a future saint. Our Lord Himself denies this in many of His sermons and parables, such as the parable of the sheep and the goats. Many passages from the Old Testament also deny it, like this passage from the prophet Daniel about the last days (in one of the newer translations):
"At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever" (Daniel 12:1-3).
Someone has said that we will be surprised at some of the people we find in Heaven, and even more surprised at some of the people we don't find there. There are some who are reputed to be holy, like the hypocrites whom Jesus condemns, who will never see Heaven unless they repent: "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you are like whited sepulchers, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear just to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (St. Matthew 23:27,28). St. Teresa of Avila, noted for her witty remarks, once said: "Lord, preserve us from sour faced saints."
What does God think about the sinner who repents? The prophet Ezechiel tells us:
"The soul that sinneth the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son. The justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed and keep all my commandments and do judgment and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done: in his justice which he hath wrought, he shall live. Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live?" (Ezechiel 18:20-23).
Delaying your conversion is the last thing we would recommend, and many find themselves suddenly thrust into Hell without expecting it, but even a last minute repentance is a possibility, like that of the Good Thief, St. Dismas, who was absolved by Our Lord Himself from the Cross. St. Therese of Lisieux tells the story in her autobiography of a notorious criminal for whose conversion she had been praying, asking for some confirming sign from God that her prayer had been answered. As the man was being led to the place of execution he refused the ministrations of the priest standing by ready to hear his confession and grant him absolution. But just as the blade of the guillotine was about to fall he reached for the crucifix that was offered him and kissed it. St. Therese had her sign.
We must strive, each one of us, to be a saint, following the good advice of St. Paul:
"Therefore let us also, having such a cloud of witnesses over us, put away every encumbrance and the sin entangling us, and run with patience to the fight set before us; looking towards the author and finisher of faith, Jesus, who for the joy set before him, endured a cross, despising shame, and sits at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider, then, him who endured such opposition from sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. For you have not yet resisted unto blood in the struggle with sin" (Hebrews 12:1-4).
"Now may the God of peace, who brought forth from the dead the great pastor of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, in virtue of the blood of an everlasting covenant, fit you with every good thing to do his will; working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom is glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20,21).
Father Louis J. Campbell
vol 14, no. 39
"Qui legit, intelligat"
Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons