Standing up for the truth: All Saints’ Day (1 November)
Encourages students to follow the saints’ example.
by Paul Hess
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5
To encourage students to follow the saints’ example and be prepared to make sacrifices in the cause of what is right.
Preparation and materials
- You will need either a recording of ‘Redemption song’ by Bob Marley or the lyrics to use as a quote. If you decide to use the recording, have available the means to play it during the assembly.
- Play a minute or so of ‘Redemption song’.
- Ask the students the question, ‘Who is your hero?’
Say how many of us today have heroes who are musicians, pop stars or sports men and women. There is, however, a different sort of hero who perhaps comes closer to the true meaning of the word. Bob Marley refers to such heroes in his famous song, ‘Redemption song’.
A very well-known line from the song is:
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Bob Marley is talking about prophets – not people who predict the future, but, rather, people who speak the truth, who refuse to obey rules that go against their conscience, who speak out against injustice and inequality, even if it upsets those in power.
He is talking about people like Nelson Mandela, who lost his freedom fighting against apartheid, and Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who lost their very lives for daring to stand up for what was right when it was very dangerous to do so. These people are heroes to many because they were prepared to sacrifice themselves in the cause of the truth.
- The Church also has a group of people it celebrates as heroes – they are called ‘saints’ and they are known as the ‘heroes of the faith’. Sometimes we think of saints as perfect people with haloes round their heads. In fact, most of them were flawed people who sinned, just like us.
A saint, then, is not someone who is perfect, but, rather, someone who is prepared to follow Jesus and try to say and do the right things, even when it is really difficult to do so.
- Lots of the great saints who followed Jesus in even extremely difficult situations, such as Peter and Paul, lost their lives because they stood up for their beliefs. On 1 November every year, we celebrate All Saints’ Day, to remember those saints who are not necessarily famous or well-remembered, but who, nevertheless, lived heroic lives.
- We may not be called to sacrifice our lives, but we are all called to live lives of quiet heroism. We are called to follow the example of the saints.
That means we should be prepared to stand up for what is right, speak up when we know something is wrong, stand up against the bully, make people aware of injustice in the world, not cheat when we have an opportunity to do so, give our time and money for others – these are just some of the ways that we, too, can be saints.
Time for reflection
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).
What would you be prepared to stand up for? Your friends? Your family? Your faith? Your way of life?
Thank you for all the saints throughout the ages who have followed the way of truth and love, no matter what the cost.
Give us courage, that we may follow in their footsteps.