After this, 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 sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”

—Revelation 7:9

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MUENSTER — Ghosts, goblins, witches, and dismembered zombies invaded neighborhood streets to trick-or-treat Tuesday night in observance of Halloween. Some children prefer to dress in a more noble fashion, as action heroes, comic book characters, princesses or even produce.

In Muenster Tuesday night homeowners opened the door to children dressed as heroes of another variety — saints.

Prior to going trick-or-treating, the children of Sacred Heart Catholic Church attended a mass on the night before All Saints Day, an occasion traditionally set aside to honor martyrs and great teachers and missionaries of the Christian faith.

Each of the children had a homemade costume representing a certain canonized saint, from St. Paul of the Christian New Testament, theologians such as St. Augustine and St. Methodius, and up to the late Pope John Paul II, who has yet to be canonized.

Though it takes notoriety, hard work, a solid reputation or a miracle here and there to be nominated for Roman Catholic sainthood, anyone can become a saint in the general definition of the word, according to Fr. Pat Murphy.

“We, too, may be saints in our own ways,” Murphy said from the floor, via a wireless microphone during the mass. “Let us pray that we be successful and join that great company of saints in everlasting life.”

Murphy talked to several of the children during the mass and quizzed them about the subject of their costumes. Many did not know about the saints’ lives, but Murphy was quick to fill in the details.

Not even the Roman Catholic Church knows about every saint, he said. Many saints are unknown, and have not been canonized by the church and may never be, “But we believe they will be with God,” Murphy said.

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the root word for saint is the Latin “sanctus,” meaning “holy.” The Bible’s New Testament, which was written in an ancient Greek dialect, uses the word “hagios,” which means literally “separate” and in various forms in scripture can mean “holy,” “sanctified,” or “consecrated.”

A saint becomes “separate” from the rest of the world due to their own dedication and God’s blessing, but Murphy said that does not mean a saint is superior to the rest of us.

“The saints didn’t get to where they were because they were extraordinary, but because they were ordinary,” Murphy said, noting attributes of compassion, forgiveness and love that each Christian is called to attain.

He continued: “They struggled with life just as we struggled with life. Yet they made the best with what they had, and they followed the gospel. And they followed the gospel better than many of us.”

Murphy called the audience to forgiveness, which he said is a main characteristic of canonized saints.

“Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do, yet forgiveness is the very thing that changes our hearts,” he said.

He said Pope John Paul II was shot by a man, but visited his would be assassin in jail and forgave him.

“How many of can forgive like that?” Murphy said. “We need to ask ourselves that question.”

He said another trademark of a saint is overcoming hardship.

“He (God) never promised we would live an easy life,” he said. “If you can find that in the Bible, I’ll be glad to eat it in front of you.”

Jenny White, a mother of six and a member of the Sacred Heart Parish, helped to organize the event. In an interview, she explained the history of All Saints Day, which she said began after the early Christians memorialized martyrs killed during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian in the third century A.D.

“There got to be so many who were martyred, so the Church picked a day to honor all of them,” White said.

She noted the saints come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures.

“It’s so encouraging to think that these saints who were kings and queens, and farmers and partners, all made it from their own walks of life,” she said.

White said her favorite saint is St. Thomas Moore, who worked under King Henry VIII and was persecuted.

“I really love him so much, as he had a family,” White said. “Even his daughters were educated, which was weird for back then.”

According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, All Saints day is celebrated on the first of November to honor all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Pope Urban IV, “to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year.”

Some Protestant churches, though most do not recognize a canon of saints, celebrate the occasion by asking members to honor influential members of the community or those who aided each member’s respective spiritual life.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr[at]ntin.net

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