Wednesday, November 1, 2017

For They Will See . . .

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The Good News Is Joy

Joy is the gist of the Christian Good News. Yet, only if we open wide our senses will we be able to drink from the source of this joy. Only then will the Good News prove truly good and ever new.
—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life
by Brother David Steindl-Rast


"Never say, 'What great things the saints do,' but, 'What great things God does in His saints.'"
— St. Philip Neri

"The life of faith is nothing less than the continued pursuit of God through all that disguises, disfigures, destroys and, so to say, annihilates Him. It is in very truth a reproduction of the life of Mary who, from the Stable to the Cross, remained unalterably united to that God whom all the world misunderstood, abandoned, and persecuted. In like manner faithful souls endure a constant succession of trials. God hides beneath veils of darkness and illusive appearances which make His will difficult to recognize; but in spite of every obstacle these souls follow Him and love Him even to the death of the Cross."
— Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 25
Abandonment to Divine Providence

On November 1st the Church celebrates all her holy ones in heaven, known and unknown, with the feast of All Saints. The solemnity originally began in the 4th century to commemorate all the Christian martyrs killed during those centuries of brutal persecution before Christianity was legalized. There were so many martyrs that a separate feast day could not be given to each one individually, yet, the Church did not want to leave any martyr without proper veneration. A common feast day developed and was usually celebrated in the Easter season. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica to all the saints and moved the feast day to November 1st. The feast of All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation.

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Phillipians 4:8


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Solemnity of All Saints

The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century commemoration of "all the martyrs." In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagon-loads of bones and reinterred them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the shrine as a Christian church. According to Venerable Bede, the pope intended "that the memory of all the saints might in the future be honored in the place which had formerly been dedicated to the worship not of gods but of demons" (On the Calculation of Time).

But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in May. Many Eastern Churches still honor all the saints in the spring, either during the Easter season or immediately after Pentecost.

How the Western Church came to celebrate this feast, now recognized as a solemnity, in November is a puzzle to historians. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted that date in the ninth century.


This feast first honored martyrs. Later, when Christians were free to worship according to their consciences, the Church acknowledged other paths to sanctity. In the early centuries the only criterion was popular acclaim, even when the bishop's approval became the final step in placing a commemoration on the calendar. The first papal canonization occurred in 993; the lengthy process now required to prove extraordinary sanctity took form in the last 500 years. Today's feast honors the obscure as well as the famous—the saints each of us have known.


Solemnity of All Saints

Holy Mass of Obligation

Reading 1 Rv 7:2-4, 9-14

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
"Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb."

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

"Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
"Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"
I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows."
He said to me,
"These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD's are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:1-3

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God's children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Alleluia Mt 11:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
And I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."


Meditation: Psalm 24:1-6

One . . . who desires not what is vain. (Psalm 24:4)

Two young girls were talking on the day of their First Communion. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" one asked. The other replied, "A saint. My grandmother told me I could be one." That might sound cliché, but the grandmother was right. Sainthood isn't just for extraordinary people. It's within reach for all of us.

We see a good definition of a saint in today's responsorial psalm. It describes a person who longs to see God's face (Psalm 24:6) and who has not devoted his soul to what is vain (24:4). This person puts his hope and his heart into knowing and serving God. Notice sanctity is not a competition to donate the most money to the Church, to write the most beautiful prayers, or to help the most people. It's about seeking to please the Lord. Pursuing sainthood is just that: a pursuit. Giving your best effort for God means just as much as whatever you "achieve."

The feast of All Saints is about all the holy people who have gone before us—the hidden saints who are part of that great "cloud of witnesses" in heaven (Hebrews 12:1). It's also a good time to honor the people you have known who made serving the Lord their greatest desire. Maybe it's a religious education teacher who stayed up late working on lesson plans. It could be a parent who tried to get his child excited about special feast days like this one. Or perhaps it's a priest or religious sister who supported a new ministry at your parish. In each case, it is the person's desire and effort that sets them apart and places them on the road to sainthood.

Never forget that great cloud of witnesses surrounding you. And never forget that you are part of it! There is no "us" and "them" when it comes to sanctity. By the grace of God, there is only "us."

"Jesus, set me on the path to sainthood by showing me how to serve you. Lord, I want to help build your kingdom!"

Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12



The Word of the Lord: "After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands." I had a friend in college who, at that time was a Jehovah's witness. He didn't believe in heaven then. He said they believed the 144,000 were already in heaven. This is a poor, very bad interpretation of the bible, which they have re-written. And the same goes for most who have decided to re-write the holy books. But this is the same for anyone who does not obey the Lord in humility. We decide to "re-write" the book to tend to our needs, just like Adolf Hitler. Sure everyone thinks they are doing good, but by who's standards? Apparently one's own, and this was the fall of Lucifer, the angel of lights in Heaven, turned Satan for turning from God and His will. But in Heaven there are countless saints. We read daily about a recognized saint, but in Heaven, there countless. And rightly so, because as the world counts on, billions upon billions of lives come and go from this transition place we call our world. And many do live the life of a saint, even if not recognized.

We pray today " Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face. The LORD's are the earth and its fullness". This is God's place. Ours is not simply a job of "reclaiming" for it is already His, but to be made available to Him, because we are the soil and He wants fruit to grow from us. He wants life for us and for everyone, and He speaks of an eternal life, the real life. It's as if life has phases, right? Even before you were born you were in a phase. Then, conception, a seed, and the gestational period, and then...Walah! Light! Let there be light out of nothing and here comes baby you! WOW! A creation of God. Created to be righteous, which is holy. I want to see you shine. Otherwise, I would not write to you.

In the Holy Gospel, our Lord does ascend the mountain that no one else can or does as stated in our prayer of the Psalm today "Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? or who may stand in his holy place? One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain." Jesus ascends and proclaims from the top of the mount. Even the mount of the skull, Calvary, Golgotha, where they say Adam's head's skull was located, where death had prevailed, now death would die. And this is what God does when He dies....LIFE BEGINS. The Phase of obliteration for the greater good. I've been working on our family camper trailer, almost building from scratch, and it is so tiring, so many meticulous details, and in exasperation sometimes I yell at myself and damning this and that....only to realize, in the end, it was for the greater good. If this thing hadn't broke, I wouldn't have made it better. If this thing wouldn't have fit, I wouldn't have made something that would fit even better. My dear saint of God....better things are coming.

And so, (forgive me if I'm going long) I'm inspired so much by the Words of our Lord today. We could write some more books on it! But let's just glimpse at these awesome words He says from the mountain He ascends ""Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." WOW! What does this mean to you? In Hebrew the sounds of the sentence are more true: "O the blessedness of the poor!" is more like it. And it means more of "happy" too. Those who are merciful, pure of heart, who make peace, and who are...persecuted. The word "poor" is derived from a word that means "to crouch as a helpless beggar" and this means someone totally dependent on another or others for help.

Bishop Barren says of this today: "The word found in all of them is makarios, rendered "blessed" or "happy" or perhaps even "lucky."

"Blessed are the poor in spirit...." How lucky you are if you are not addicted to material things. Here Jesus is telling us here how to realize our deepest desire, which is the desire for God.

"Blessed are they who mourn...." We might interpret it this way: "How lucky are you if you are not addicted to good feelings." Doing the will of God sometimes involves the acceptance of enormous pain.

"Blessed are the meek...." One of the greatest seductions the world holds out to us is power. But what I ought to do is eschew worldly power, so that the power of the will of God might reign in me.

Without having read all this, I began to see the visualization of the evangelization that is continuing. it was a soul bent as in humble adoration, veneration, and servitude, with great love and honor to our Lord in Heaven. Saints. And so I ask you, a fellow saint, what is it that we will do next for our Lord in Heaven?

I don't know, but these are the training and proving grounds in our world, on how to serve Love properly. And Love comes first....having served us, washed our feet, and healed, and gave to eat....even His own body for a starving world. In doing so, it is perpetuated. It is a never ending, never having passed action, Heaven on earth, this giving of Christ totally upon the mount, upon the altar.

Who can ascend? Who will?

Our Lord is there



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