Practically speaking, it is incorrect to call All Saints Day “Holy Day of Obligation #10”. There are ten universal holy days of obligation and All Saints is the last in the liturgical calendar, but for various reasons there are only a few that require you get up early, skip lunch, or stay up late on a weekday. When was the last time you were obliged to celebrate the Church’s own version of President’s Day in commemoration of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29th? In fact, for the 2007 calendar year there are only 4 HDOs (or is it HDsO) we take note of. One celebrates the birth of Our Lord, two are for Our Lady, and the last is for people basically like you and me, but who lived exceptionally holy lives, did exceptionally holy things, and died in an exceptionally holy state.
If you would ever like to be remembered on an HDO, All Saints Day is the only holyday I’m aware of that is still accepting new members; exclusive though it may be. All the other ones are basically closed for trading. There’s no way anyone is edging in on Saint Joseph’s Day and in the Catholic Church we don’t make holydays to honor ourselves (think Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays…). If you ever want to claim All Saints Day as your own you have to earn it. The people who have are exceptional, but the road they took to get there is simple. It’s kind of like a Rubik’s Cube: conceptually simple to learn, difficult to complete. And I haven’t seen any videos on YouTube explaining how to solve the path to sanctity in under 30 seconds.
If you’re interested in how difficult it really is to become a saint I recommend reading the lives of the saints. You’ll find that sinners and slackers, antipopes and atheists were able to give their “yes” to God. In fact, your normalcy might be your biggest liability. Take St. Rose of Lima, for example.
Only the Lover Sings: A Patron Saint for Claude Rains
The similarities between St. Rose of Lima and the Phantom of the Opera are uncanny. As a young girl in Peru, Rose found herself irresistibly drawn to a life of prayer, but she discovered that playing with Playmobil and Pet Rocks (or whatever Peruvian children played with) was a great distraction from her Celestial Lover. Very early in her life she realized that if she was to devote herself completely to God she would have to build a shack out of leaves and branches and live as a hermit behind her parents’ home. For many years she was able to live unfettered by worldly desires until the local teenage boys realized she had become quite attractive. Unable to bear the new attention, in an effort to squelch any lovers’ quarrels (permanently), she burned her face with lye. Disfigured and rejected by the world, she dedicated herself to her Love who sees past all masks into one’s inner beauty. She was never able to take vows as a nun and be a true spouse of the Lord, but she did become a Third Order Dominican. The moral of this story is that you have to be decisive if you want to be a saint.
While the requirements to become a saint have never changed (and you can read about them here), the likelihood of being recognized as a saint is better now than at any other time in the Church. The last 50 years have seen a great increase in the number of laypeople receiving canonization. Pope John Paul II canonized and made “blessed” more people than all the other popes combined. And it certainly isn’t because we somehow became holier in recent history. Rather, the slipping holiness among laypeople en masse has called for a greater number of saintly examples that more accurately reflect the kind of lives we should be living. It is no longer necessary to levitate in meditation, find water in the desert, or burn your face for people to take notice. Say, “Yes!” to God, “No!” to the world, and in another 50 years we may be honoring you on November 1. Until then, see you at Mass!