Day 9 - Novena to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth
Day 9 Novena Reflection
The early Christians honored the dead. They had a special devotion to and affection for the martyrs.
We have accounts like the Martyrdom of Polycarp from the middle of the second century which set forth the practice:
Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more pure than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, so that when being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.
The Liturgy was celebrated over the bones of the holy ones, the Saints, who gave their lives for Love Himself; Jesus Christ the Savior.
This is the origin of our practice of embedding relics in the altars of our Churches.
Christians do not fear death. Christians view death with the eyes of faith as a change of habitation and not a source of fear.
The dates of commemorating those who witnessed to the faith by their heroic lives and deaths varied as local communities honored local saints and martyrs. Over time, those Feast days became more universally accepted as the rhythm of the Church Year became more uniform.
The first account we have of honoring all the Saints is in the homilies of St Ephrem the Syrian (d. AD 373).
The Bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom (d. AD 407), set aside the first Sunday after Pentecost for this commemoration. The Church of the East still celebrates the Feast on that day.
In the Western Church the date may have been on that date but was moved to May 13th.
There is some evidence that the move to November 1 came with Pope Gregory III (d. AD 741), and was likely first observed on November 1st in Germany.
The Feast of All Saints is our Feast Day.
In a special way, we commemorate those honored by canonization, the process wherein the Church has acknowledged their sacrificial lives of holiness and holds them up as models and effective intercessors.
However, this celebration is grounded in the ancient Church teaching concerning the Communion of all the Saints.
Just as we pray for one another, those who have gone on before us pray for us.
They are joined to us forever in the communion of love and their prayer is powerful. This ancient and firm belief is attested to in the earliest writings of the Christian tradition.
For example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350) wrote:
"We mention those who have fallen asleep: first the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition..." (Catechetical Lecture 23:9).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this communion:
Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness...They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us...So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped....as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself:
We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples (CCC # 956, 957)
ALL Saints of God, Pray for Us
Novena Prayer to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth
Beloved Father, through the life, death and resurrection of your only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, we have become your adopted sons and daughters.
Through Baptism we are now members of His Body, the Church, which is Your family.
Our Savior Jesus taught us that whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother. We thank you that promise includes each one of us.
As members of the family of Jesus we are now reunited to you, in Him. Through Baptism we have become adopted sons and daughters in your Beloved Son.
We now turn to you in prayer, through Him, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit as OUR FATHER, ABBA.
We pray that, by the power of your Holy Spirit, you would raise up in our midst holy men, women and children, in every Nation, culture and walk of life.
Men, women and children who are so conformed to your Son Jesus that they make Him known by their words, deeds and life of love and sacrificial service.
Men, women and children who are saints for this urgent hour.
Men, Women and children who manifest the power of heaven on earth. Who continue the ministry of Jesus, your Son and our Savior, through signs of the kingdom to come.
May these holy men and women multiply - providing leaders and servants for a New Missionary Age of the Church.
And, we pray for ourselves and our families, that we could grow closer and closer to you, every day, that we would be transformed by your grace and our free cooperation with your grace - Empowered by your Holy Spirit to become new creations in Jesus Christ.
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