Monday, November 2, 2015
Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
The Church has encouraged prayer for the dead from the earliest times as an act of Christian charity. "If we had no care for the dead," Augustine noted, "we would not be in the habit of praying for them." Yet pre-Christian rites for the deceased retained such a strong hold on the superstitious imagination that a liturgical commemoration was not observed until the early Middle Ages, when monastic communities began to mark an annual day of prayer for the departed members.
In the middle of the 11th century, St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny, France, decreed that all Cluniac monasteries offer special prayers and sing the Office for the Dead on November 2, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread from Cluny and was finally adopted throughout the Roman Church.
The theological underpinning of the feast is the acknowledgment of human frailty. Since few people achieve perfection in this life but, rather, go to the grave still scarred with traces of sinfulness, some period of purification seems necessary before a soul comes face-to-face with God. The Council of Trent affirmed this purgatory state and insisted that the prayers of the living can speed the process of purification.
Superstition easily clung to the observance. Medieval popular belief held that the souls in purgatory could appear on this day in the form of witches, toads or will-o'-the-wisps. Graveside food offerings supposedly eased the rest of the dead.
Observances of a more religious nature have survived. These include public processions or private visits to cemeteries and decorating graves with flowers and lights. This feast is observed with great fervor in Mexico.
Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God's presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.
"We must not make purgatory into a flaming concentration camp on the brink of hell—or even a 'hell for a short time.' It is blasphemous to think of it as a place where a petty God exacts the last pound—or ounce—of flesh...." St. Catherine of Genoa, a mystic of the 15th century, wrote that the 'fire' of purgatory is God's love 'burning' the soul so that, at last, the soul is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire for union that is now absolutely assured, but not yet fully tasted" (Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Believing in Jesus).
Daily Prayer - 2015-11-02
As I begin this prayer, God is present,
Lord grant me the grace
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Wis 3:1-9
The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Reading 2 Rom 5:5-11
Brothers and sisters:
Or Rom 6:3-9
Brothers and sisters:
Alleluia Mt 25:34
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 6:37-40
Jesus said to the crowds:
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day)
I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. (Psalm 23:6)
Created in the 1940s, Candy Land still ranks as one of the most popular children's games in the United States. The goal of the game is to make it to the end of a winding route and reach King Kandy—but the path is always unpredictable. When you pick a card, you might have to jump ahead or go all the way back to the beginning. Or you might get stuck in Molasses Swamp, where you have to stay until the right card turns up. The randomness of the cards adds to the adventure: you can be very close to the end, but you still have to draw just the right card in order to reach your destination.
It seems odd that kids would enjoy a board game that has such an unpredictable cycle of joy and disappointment. Perhaps the reason is that the reward of reaching King Kandy is worth all the ups and downs of the journey.
As we celebrate All Souls Day today, this sense of anticipating a great reward despite unforeseeable pitfalls is especially appropriate. Most of us have the experience of life cycling back and forth between being stuck in the Molasses Swamp and getting the exact card that we need to move us forward in joy and eager expectation.
Sometimes, as we contemplate our path, we might wonder if life isn't just as random as a shuffled pack of cards. But our faith tells us that there is more to it than that. Jesus, our Redeemer, is walking the path with us. He never promised a clear, unobstructed road, but he did promise to be with us, even to the end of the earth (Matthew 28:20). All the faithful who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, tell us that God is committed to bringing us into his heavenly home. There will be surprises along the way—some sweet and others not so sweet—but at every twist and turn, we will find Jesus waiting for us, ready to shower us with his grace.
"Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness! Jesus, I trust that you will bring me home to be with you."
I always tell people that it is better to be on the service side, you get more out of it. Serve the Lord, you'll get more out of it. Is this only at Church? The Church is the body of Christ. Serving goes beyond church walls, and beyond our thoughts, it is all encompassing. Death does not end the Church. I tried to explain this to one I invited to RCIA and it seemed like she (sister in law) wanted to cover her ears, and say "lalalala" as she rocked back and forth so she wouldn't hear what I was about to say. So I never got to say it. But I'll say it here, Church does not end here. Life does not end here on earth. What needs to end is our life as we know it...a soul in love is a soul converted.
The Psalms say to walk in faith "R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me." Having faith is doing what you can not believe you can do, but you do it anyways, like forgiving someone who severely hurt you. Or even better...asking for forgiveness. There are people in my parish asking for forgiveness from one another, and this is beautiful. Case in point, Mass was about to start, and I'm still there filling in for a missing guitarist. The rosary is still going, and announcements still have to be made and Father is more than punctual, so we started strumming the guitars on the speakers to do sound check. The rosary leader keeps messing up every time we play guitars maybe nervous, and a lady blurts out "Stop Playing the Guitars!!" Oh man! Now what? We obeyed. Did the best we could. Truth is, I had alredy gotten yelled at for something else that morning, so I was already kinda sucker punched. "Blessed are they who suffer insults because of Me" says the Lord in yesterday's Gospel. Those words hit me hard. So I took it as an honor to get sucker punched. The honor comes when grace is alive in your soul. And so what's remained lately is the question, is it harder to be the one offended, or to be the offender? All signs point to the offender, because after Mass, the older lady that blurted out came in tears asking us to forgive her for having said that. There was absolutely no wrongdoing in my heart, I understood her, and its as if there was nothing to forgive. I made a joke about it "ah, it was the Rosary Lady's fault!" This is why it is harder to be the offender...the sinner, because you just want to make things right and it seems hard, so hard that it may even seem impossible.
For this, our Lord speaks to us today "...I will not reject anyone who comes to me...". This is the Truth speaking. He is saying He will not reject anyone, and HE means ANYONE that comes to Him. Our job is to get ourselves and everyone to HIM! My little sister is married to the one I used to call the "anti-catholic", they are now suffering a separation, and we are praying hard for them to reconcile, for the sake of their 5 children. I told them as they sat at my desk as they accidentally walked in at the same time, I told the husband "your job is to help her get to Heaven" and the same is for the wife, her job is to help her husband get to Heaven. So what's it going to take? FAITH. I've equated Faith to Love. It is the major factor. Faithless will be hopeless and that is not what we read in today's scripture when we read "Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts". To give up on hope is to give up on God. As if He is not greater than all the problems in the world? Which one are you going to focus on? My aim is to aim you to Heaven, we are Christ followers, I am a disciple of the Lord, learning the Way, living the Way, and so "this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me". So I grieve often when I see people unsubscribe from my faith sharing, only because of the words I just typed "that I should not lose anything of what He gave me". Yet, it is the Lord's and His will. What happens then, is I focus more on holiness, to get you a more pure message out. If I sin less, it is for you, and this serving makes all the difference. For the scripture speaks of "for a dead person has been absolved from sin". We get absolved when we confess, the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation. Dead no longer we can arise with Christ.
The perplexion then comes when our Lord says today "everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life". How will you see the Lord with dark glasses, a life of sin? It is possible, yet so much harder. Take them off, take off the sin, and let Him in. And He is Eternal.
Eternally in love.
Eternally always and forever He who Is and ever shall be
world without end...Jesus the Messiah, our Savior!
LORD HELP US LOVE YOU ETERNALLY!!!
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