I've spent the last two weeks prepping and shopping for the All Saints' party that we plan and run each year for the local homeschoolers. It's a lot of work but it's fun and it's worth it and even though every year I wonder if I should put in the energy to do it again, every year I find myself packing treat bags and planning games and worrying again during my late October evenings if we'll have enough food at the buffet table.
While I love the officially canonized saints dearly and feel a strong connection to a whole bunch of them, the part of All Saints' that I love the most is that it's for everyone.
Kinda like that.
The point of All Saints' is not just a collective celebration for all those we've already been remembering through various memorials and feasts throughout the year anyway. One of its primary intentions is remembering all the saints that don't have official recognition in the Church. The billions (trillions?) of souls that are beholding the face of God that we can't name.
Except I can name one.
At least, I'm fairly certain I can.
I know that the official teaching of the Church is that the child we lost within my womb we can "entrust to the mercy of God" and we have "hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism" (CCC 1261). My experience and knowledge of the mercy of God lets me have a pretty solid trust that this means my little one who was free from any actual sin and who we would have baptized had we had the chance is one of those souls in His Presence.*
So All Saints' Day?
That's the day the Church celebrates him. My child.
I love that. I love that I belong to a Church that recognizes all those who have made it. The grandpas and grandmas, the little children, the mentally challenged, the deathbed conversions, the babies, the souls who died in a state of grace…if they're up there, this is their feast day. This is why I can't ignore it or let it pass without intentional celebration. This is why American Halloween doesn't register much with me. I have something much more personal and beautiful to plan for and celebrate - the victory of one of my very own flesh and blood children. My most intimate experience of death happened within my very body. It was painful and difficult and heartbreaking, yes. The tears were many and my heart sometimes still aches to think of it. But it wasn't gory or grotesque or creepy - it was heart wrenchingly brutal and beautiful. Death has lost its sting and that is something I celebrate with joy. I have hope that my own child, through the merits of Christ, conquered death and is up there with Him. His tiny little corpse now long decayed is not something I want to mock but something I want to revere. This beautiful Solemnity of the Church is the day the Church gives us to realize the dignity of each and every person who has fought the good fight. Even if that fight was a few minutes, days, or weeks long, they won.
So this All Saints' I'll be thinking yet again about him. But not with the raw grief and sadness that sometimes hits, rather with the joy and hope and pride that my baby made it. That one of these little ones He's given me is already there.
That's worth the party, I think.
Joseph Mary, pray for us.
*A much more detailed explanation can be found in the Church document The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized