Sermon on All Saints by Rev. Fr. Francois Laisney

Source: District of Asia

The Saints show us the path to heaven

My dear Brethren,

Last week we celebrated the feast of all Saints. This is a beautiful feast, which stressed in a very concrete was a very consoling truth: there is a marvellous reward for virtue! God does not deceive: He will reward the virtues, the love and fidelity of His saints. As St Paul says: “the hope of life everlasting, which God, who lieth not, hath promised before the times of the world” (Tit. 1:2). And to whom did He promise this? St James answers that the “crown of life … God hath promised to them that love Him” (Jac. 1:12). Truly “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

The Reward Of Virtue Here Below 

In the Gospel, Our Lord teaches that already here below there is a great joy in practicing virtue: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” (Mt. 5:3-12). They are already blessed and rejoice when they are reviled: while they suffer from outside, they are already filled with God’s joy in the inside. How much more then shall they rejoice when there will no longer be any persecution! If the hope and expectation of the heavenly reward is already such a great joy that they can rejoice while persecuted, how much more when they will see God!

The Reward Of Virtue In Heaven 

What will it be? St John says in his first epistle: “Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him. Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:1-2). He draws the consequence right away: “And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy” (1 Jn. 3:3). Our Lord himself says: “when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven” (Mk. 12:25). The “angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 18:10). If St Paul, speaking of contemplation, wrote: “we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18), if that is already true of contemplation , how much more marvellous would be the beatific vision in Heaven? Indeed “We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

St Thomas Aquinas explains that this beatific vision will be the most perfect act of the highest human faculty, the intelligence, applied to the supreme object: God Himself, and raised above its own ability by the light of Glory. Such perfect activity will be our beatitude for ever: to rejoice in the Lord, for ever! As the psalmist said: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye right of heart” (Ps. 31:11). And “Rejoice, ye just, in the Lord:” (Ps. 96:12). And St Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). To be filled with the Light of God, with the fires of Divine Love, for ever and ever!

My dear brethren, this is the goal of the Christian life, not an earthly happiness, as St Paul says: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). This is the object of the virtue of Hope: to go to Heaven; ours is not an earthly hope but a heavenly one.

Our Hope For Heaven

Our hope is all centred on our Lord Jesus Christ: as God He is the very One which we hope to see and possess for ever! He is also the very motive of our hope: He is the Word of the Father, in which all these marvellous promises were made, and most of all He sealed these promises by His Precious Blood. Yes, God wants our salvation: He sent His only-begotten Son into the world for this, and He died on the Cross to save us from our sins and lead us to Heaven! He wants our salvation more than we want it ourselves: He died on the Cross for it! And He rose again as a guarantee of our own resurrection at the end of the world. Very often in the Gospel Our Lord spoke about the Heavenly reward, in particular in the present passage: “theirs is the kingdom of Heaven… they shall be consoled, … they shall be filled, … they shall receive mercy,… they shall see God, … they shall be called the children of God…, your reward is very great in heaven”. But in many other passages too, He compares the Kingdom of Heaven to many things (the expression “Kingdom of Heaven” is typical of St Matthew, where St Mark would have “Kingdom of God”). Nine times in St Matthew’s gospel does our Lord compare the kingdom of Heaven to something, usually to some of the greatest feasts available on earth: the banquet of a king, a treasure, etc.

The Path To Heaven

This heavenly joy is so great that one must be ready to renounce everything on earth in order to possess it. Remember this strong warning: “And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where there worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished” (Mk. 9:42-47). People are afraid to cut off their hand, their foot or to pluck out their eyes, but if they would reflect on the beauty, the exceedingly great joy of Heaven, they would not hesitate to do what Our Lord said: Our Lord speaks while at the same time He is in Heaven, since He always had –as man- beatific Vision, and as God He possesses in the supreme manner that divine Beatitude, eternal beatitude. Because He is so filled with this important truths, He does not hesitate to warn us so clearly!

Indeed what would be more beautiful than to hear one day: “Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mt. 25:21). And also: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat, etc.” (Mt. 25:34-35) and “the just [shall go] into life everlasting” (Mt. 25:46).

But if we want to hear these words, we must be put on the right side, not on the left (Mt. 25:33). We must be found with the wedding garment (Mt. 22:11), otherwise we shall be “cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 22:13). We must obey the Commandments of God, and persevere in obedience until the end of our life.

So there are two essential moments in the Christian life: the first is conversion, to believe in Christ and change one’s life from sin to virtue by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, given either in Baptism or in the Sacrament of penance, since our Lord Jesus Christ came “to save sinners from their sins and lead them to penance” (Mt. 1:21 – Lk. 5:32), thus St Paul writes: “I preach, that they should do penance, and turn to God, doing works worthy of penance” (Acts 26:20). And St Peter says: God “dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Today we need to hear that call to penance: this is essential to the Church’s mission. A lot of the modern crisis comes from the neglect of such important topic. One might say: I can’t do it, it is too difficult for me. But our Lord Jesus Christ gives His grace, which makes all this not only much easier, but enjoyable!

Indeed the second “moment” of the Christian life is PERSEVERANCE: TO CONTINUE, stable in the Faith (1 Cor. 16:13), immovable in hope (Col. 1:23) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58): indeed there will be a marvellous reward for virtue – virtue which can be practice by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Path To Heaven Does Not Change 

Today, that “stability in the faith” is pejoratively presented as “inflexibility”[1]; the requirement to keep the Commandments of God is no longer clearly mentioned, as if the only important thing was to be “open” to everybody – without telling them the need of obedience to the commandments: but then they shall find the door of Heaven “closed”. Remember the foolish virgins, who were not ready: “they that were ready, went in with [the groom] to the marriage, and the door was shut. But at last come also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not” (Mt. 25:10-12). “Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able. But when the master of the house shall be gone in, and shall shut the door, you shall begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying: Lord, open to us. And he answering, shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are. Then you shall begin to say: We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. And he shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Lk. 13:24-27). Certainly, by Pope Francis’ standards, our Lord Jesus Christ is “traditionalist”, because he is so “closed”, with such “hostile inflexibility”, “closed within certitudes of what He knew, zealous and intellectual!”[2]

Catholic Morality Does Not Change

St Paul also is a traditionalist, according to the same standards: indeed has he not also a “hostile inflexibility” when he writes: “Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). “For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5). That is very inflexible indeed, and hostile: yet it is the very Word of God! Does not St Paul teach the faithful to be very “closed in what they knew” when he wrote: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8-9).

We must be open to the sinners, but closed to sin; we must welcome the sinner unto penance, but hate the sin. It is indeed a commandment of God to have sin: “You that love the Lord, hate evil!” (Ps. 96:10). We cannot deceive the sinner letting him think he is OK as he is, without the need to change and correct himself. Because unless he does penance, he shall perish likewise (Lk. 13:3).

The Need For Penance and Reparation Does Not Change

Now that applies to us first: we must do penance for all our own sins first, even if one has only done little sins, he still needs penance for them – and needs to make reparation for the sins of the others, as Our Lady asked at Fatima, and as the Sacred Heart had already asked at Paray-le-Monial to St Margaret Mary. There is no entering the kingdom of Heaven without the Cross, without sacrifice, without penance: “heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17).

All the Saints have done penance, sometimes tremendous penances, and we would like to go to Heaven without penance? We simply deceive ourselves. And worse, we deceive others too. If we want to share in their reward, we must not fear to share in their labours. This feast is a marvellous encouragement to be courageous: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk. 9:23). The Cross is the path to Heaven, therefore the holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the great means to go to Heaven: there we understand the evil of sin, when we see in front of our eyes, our Lord Jesus Christ offering the sacrifice of His Body and Blood to the Father in reparation of our sins; there, we weep with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, first for our own sins and also for all the sins of the world; there, we obtain the grace of conversion, of “dying to sin and living unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11); there we obtain the grace to practice the Commandments, and live in union with our Lord Jesus Christ, union nourished by the very Body and Blood of the Lamb, of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the “bread of the Angels” (Ps. 77:25), foretaste of heavenly beatitude. There we see through faith what we will contemplate eternally in Heaven, the reward of all virtue: our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the glory of the Father and the unity of the Holy Ghost.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to “be … faithful until death” so that we may obtain “the crown of life” as St John says in the Apocalypse (2:10).



[1] Pope Francis’ exhortation at the end of the synod

[2] Ibidem.