We celebrate today the memory of all who, by the power of the Holy Ghost at work in their lives and in their deaths, have passed over with Christ to the Father. In a word, we celebrate the memory of those who have accomplished the mystery begun in them at Baptism, the mystery nourished in them with every participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We celebrate today the memory of men and women and children fully transformed by partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ.
Communion with the saints is the grace we ask for in every Holy Mass. Our partaking of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ can change us as it changed them, heal us as it healed them, purify us as it purified them, refresh us as it refreshed them. It is so moving to pray in the Canon of the Mass, striking the breast as the rubrics prescribe, “To us sinners also, Thy servants who hope in the abundance of your mercies, deign to grant some share and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs . . . and all Thy saints, into whose company we beg Thee admit us, not weighing our merits but granting us pardon.”
Communion with the saints in this life means being poor in spirit, it means living with outstretched hands, confident that He who promises the kingdom of heaven will give it according to the measure of our emptiness, and of our desire. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of the hospitality of God offered freely and without measure to the poor in spirit.
Communion with the saints means weeping as the saints wept, knowing that every tear of ours is counted in heaven, and seeking, even in the midst of tears, the face of Christ the Comforter. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of our comfort, the unfailing consolation of the saints.
Communion with the saints means going gently through this life, trusting that more is gained through meekness than through might. The Most Holy Eucharist is the power of those without power; it is the strength of the gentle, the triumph of the meek, the inheritance of the humble.
Communion with the saints means suffering in one’s soul hunger and thirst for the true, the beautiful, and the good, hunger and thirst for the pure joy of a right relationship with God and with others. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of justice, bringing justice to every place and to every heart. It is the wellspring of righteousness, the communication of all that is true, all that is beautiful, and all that is good to those who approach it hungering and thirsting for God alone.
Communion with the saints means looking at others through eyes of mercy; it means practicing attitudes, words, and deeds of mercy, never despairing of the mercy of God for oneself. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of mercy given, mercy received, and mercy exchanged.
Communion with the saints means desiring that purity of heart by which one comes to see God, and believing that a clean heart is something that God alone can give and wants to give to all his children. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of purity making clean those who receive it; it is the fulfillment of what Isaiah saw in the temple of the Thrice-Holy God: the burning coal taken from the altar to cleanse his heart and lips.
Communion with the saints means making peace in oneself and around oneself, even at a great cost to oneself; the household of God is the dwelling of peace. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of peace, the seal of peace, and the bond of peace.
Finally, communion with the saints means meeting insults with silence, persecutions with meekness, and evil utterances with words of blessing. It means rejoicing, already here and now, in the foretaste of heaven given us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Most Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of blessing undoing every curse.
Saint John Paul II was ordained a priest sixty–nine years ago on 1 November 1946. The All Saints priest has become the All Saints Pope. It is no coincidence that the Pope who gave us the Year of the Eucharist is the Pope who, in twenty-six years of pontificate, gave us more than 1,300 blessed and 480 saints. The blessed and saints of Pope John Paul II are his way of saying to the Church and to the world: “Behold the fruits of the Most Holy Eucharist! Look at these men and women and see what the Most Holy Eucharist does. See how the adorable Body and Blood of Christ transforms souls. See what the Most Holy Eucharist is doing already, even if almost imperceptibly, in you and in the world.” In Mane nobiscum, Domine, he writes:
We have before us the example of the Saints, who in the Eucharist found nourishment on their journey towards perfection. How many times did they shed tears of profound emotion in the presence of this great mystery, or experience hours of inexpressible “spousal” joy before the sacrament of the altar!
One of the projects proposed eleven years ago for the Year of the Eucharist was a greater attention to the saints, specifically in relation to the Most Holy Eucharist. How did we respond to this proposal over a decade ago? The document issued at that time by the Congregation for Divine Worship had this to say:
The Eucharist makes us saints, and their can be no sanctity that is not enveloped in Eucharistic life. “The one who feeds on me will have life because of me” (Jn. 6:57). . . . John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 62: “Let us take our place, dear brothers and sisters, at the school of the Saints, who are the great interpreters of true Eucharistic piety. In them the theology of the Eucharist takes on all the splendor of a lived reality; it becomes “contagious” and, in a manner of speaking, it ‘warms our hearts’.” This is true for all the Saints.
All the saints are saints of the Most Holy Eucharist. Frequent the saints and you will, little by little, enter into their experience of the transforming power of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Enter into the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist and you will, little by little, come to know the faithful companionship of the saints. All the saints are present to us today. Listen to their voices with the ear of the heart. You will a mighty chorus saying:
Come to the Sacrament of the hospitality of God. Come to the Sacrament of our comfort. Come to the Sacrament of the meek and humble Christ. Come to the Sacrament that satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst. Come to the Sacrament of mercy. Come to the Sacrament of purity. Come to the Sacrament of peace. Come to the Sacrament of the Kingdom. Come when you are insulted; come when you are persecuted; come when evil is uttered against you falsely because of Christ. Come when you are burdened with labor, and be refreshed. We are, all of us, saints of the Most Holy Eucharist. Come to the Sacrament of all saints.