Feast of All Saints Sermon
St. Venerable Bede
Dearly beloved: Today we keep holy-day, with one great cry of joy, in memory of all the Saints; whose presence is a gladness to heaven; whose prayers are a blessing to earth; whose victories are the crown of holy Church; whose testimony is now to be honored in proportion to the glory imparted to it by the agony which was endured in the giving of it. For the greater the torment, the richer the reward; and the fiercer the battle, the brighter the glory of the fighters whose triumph in martyrdom was in this wise adorned with more sufferings.
Our mother the Catholic Church, which is spread far and wide throughout all this planet, hath learnt, from Christ Jesus her Head, to fear neither shame nor cross nor death, but to increase in strength by enduring suffering rather than by resisting it. Therefore she was able to breathe into each one of that noble band, which persevered under condemnation to suffering, a spirit of courage like unto her own, even the hope of conquest and glory, whereby they were invigorated to persevere manfully in conflict unto the very end. O truly blessed Mother Church, whom God’s mercy doth so illumine! Whom the glorious blood of victorious Martyrs doth adorn! Whom the inviolate virginity of so many pure souls doth clothe with raiment white and glistening! Neither roses nor lilies are wanting in thy garlands.
Therefore dearly beloved, let us each one of us strive to attain the goodly crown of one or the other of these dignities, either the glistening whiteness of chastity, or the red dye of suffering. In the heavenly army both peace and war have chaplets of their own, to crown Christ’s soldiers withal. Moreover, the unutterable and infinite goodness of God hath provided this, namely, that the time of working and wrestling is not over-long, much less everlasting, but as it were for a moment.
That is, only in this short and scanty life is there wrestling and working, but the crown and the prize endureth for a life which is eternal. The work is soon over, but the wage is paid for ever. And when the night of this world is ended, the Saints see the clearness of the essential light, and receive a blessedness outweighing the pangs of any torment, as testifieth the Apostle Paul: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.