Rorate Caeli

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain: The Feast of All Saints

Instituted in the year 835, thanks to Pope Gregory, IV, the Feast of 1st November recalls the attention of believers to the blessed eternity that our brothers and sisters in the Faith already enjoy, and to which – by their example and through their intercession – they continually draw us. That is why – according to some ancient documents – on this day there was “the same eagerness which there is at Christmas, for assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in honour of the Saints.”


“I saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in the sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and with palms in their hands: and they cried out with a loud voice saying ‘Salvation to our God’” (Apoc 7:9-10). 

Time is no more and the human race is thus presented in a vision to the Prophet of Patmos.  Our life of struggle and suffering on earth (Jb 7:1) is one day to have an end. Our long lost race is to fill up the angelic ranks thinned by Satan’s revolt; and, uniting in the gratitude of the redeemed of the Lamb, the Angels will sing with us: “Thanksgiving, honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever!” (Apoc 7:12).

“And this shall be the end” says the Apostle (1 Cor 15:24), the end of death and suffering; the end of history and revolutions which will then be exhausted.  Only the eternal enemy, hurled down with his followers into the abyss, will live on to witness his own eternal defeat. The Son of man, the Saviour of the world, will have delivered the Empire to God His Father and the supreme end of all creation and of Redemption, “God will be all in all” (Cor 24-28).  Long before St. John, Isaiah sang: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated, and his train filled the temple. And the Seraphim cried one to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of His glory” (6:1-3).

The fringes of the Divine vesture are the elect, who are the adornment of the Word, the splendor of the Father (Heb 1:3).  For since the Word has espoused our human nature, that nature is His glory, as He is the glory of God (1 Cor !!:7).  The Bride Herself has no other decoration than the justification of the Saints (Apoc 19:8) and when this glittering robe is perfected, the signal will be given for the end of time. The Feast of today announces the ever-growing nearness of the eternal nuptials;  for on it we annually celebrate the progress of the Bride’s preparation (Apoc 19:).


“Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb!” (Apoc 19:9).  Blessed are we all, who have received in Baptism the nuptial robe of holy charity, which entitles us to a seat at the heavenly banquet!  Let us prepare ourselves for the unspeakable destiny reserved for us by love. To this end are directed all the labours of this life: toils, struggles, sufferings for God’s sake, all adorn the garment of grace, the clothing of the elect, with priceless jewels: “Blessed are those who mourn!” (Mt. 5:5).

They who have gone before us wept, as they turned the furrows and cast in the seed, as the Psalmist tells us (Ps 125), but now their triumphant joy overflows upon us in this valley of tears as an anticipated glory.
Without waiting for the dawn of eternity, the present solemnity allows us to enter by hope into the land of light, where our fathers have followed Jesus, the Divine forerunner. Do not the thorns of suffering lose their sharpness at the sight of the eternal joys into which they are to blossom? Does not the happiness of our dear ones cause a heavenly sweetness to mingle with our sorrows? Let us hearken to the chants of deliverance sung by those for whom we weep. “Little or great” (Apoc 19:5), this is the feast of them all, as it will one day be ours.  In this season, when cold and darkness prevail, nature herself, stripping off her last adornments, seems to be preparing the world for the passage of the human race into the heavenly country which will have no end.

Dom Prosper Guéranger

From:  De vita Contemplativa – Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Italy. [Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]