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Let us now praise famous men…

November 1, 2009

Psalter_of_St_Louis Although the Revised Common Lectionary has done away with it, we observe here the reading of Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15, long the Old Testament lesson prescribed for All Saints’ Day. In these times, when the Church so often teaches that belief and participation are the sole tests of sainthood, we are well to remember that saints are those chosen to go above and beyond what is demanded of the remainder of us sheep; we canonize and respect not their necessarily greater abilities, but the superiority of their conformity to Christ. With great lyricism, Ecclesiasticus sings of what a saint is, and what a saint does.

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers in their generations. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning. There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and were men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and proclaiming prophecies; leaders of the people in their deliberations and in understanding of learning for the people, wise in their words of instruction; those who composed musical tunes, and set forth verses in writing; rich men furnished with resources, living peaceably in their habitations — all these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times. There are some of them who have left a name, so that men declare their praise. And there are some who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived; they have become as though they had not been born, and so have their children after them. But these were men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; their prosperity will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children’s children. Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. Their posterity will continue for ever, and their glory will not be blotted out. Their bodies were buried in peace, and their name lives to all generations. Peoples will declare their wisdom, and the congregation proclaims their praise. (Ecclus. 44:1-15, RSV)

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