God’s Immense Love

WeeklyMessageHomilist: Fr. Michael Phillippino

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time,
November 13, 2011

A few weeks ago, a parishioner asked me, “What is the difference between All Saints and All Souls Day?” It was a good question because as I began to explain it, I realized there was a little confusion on my part as well. Historically speaking, according to the Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and

Celebration of the Eucharist, All Saints Day was first mentioned in the “4th century in the east as the Feast of All Martyrs which was celebrated on May 13th…In 609 or 610, the Roman Pantheon was

dedicated on May 13 under the title S. Maria ad Martyres. Many see this date as the origin of All Saints Day. For reasons which are unclear, Pope Gregory IV (827-844) transferred the feast day from May to November 1.” The Feast of All Souls was first established as a memorial of all the faithful departed in 988 and was accepted in Rome in the 13th century.

Liturgically speaking, the Feast of All Saints is a celebration of the saints and martyrs both known and unknown who are now fully sharing in the divine communion of love which is the life of the Trinity. Their lives reveal to us something of the richness of God’s love and the reward for persevering in our faith in spite of great trials and distress.

All Souls Day is a commemoration of all the faithful departed. They still have a period of purification to go through, though. They are those holy souls who according to the teaching of the church “have died in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal

salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (ccc.1030)

I think this highlights for us the importance of practicing our faith, of striving for that holiness of life that is demanded of all of us by our baptism, of learning to surrender to God all that we have and are, of the importance of using the sacraments regularly especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation which is a way of sacramentally “washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). It also teaches us the importance of offering Masses for our beloved dead. Scripture teaches us “…it is a holy and pious thought…to make atonement for the dead that they may be freed from sin” (2 Maccabees 12:46).

It is during this month of November that traditionally we take time to reflect upon the last things, these being death, judgment, heaven, purgatory, and hell. It is also a time for us to pray for our beloved dead, to visit their gravesites and pray for them, and it would be well for us to meditate on our own death as well. This is one of the spiritual works of mercy, to pray for the dead. It is our duty as Christians and it is demanded of us by the law of charity.

This is the beauty of our faith, and a sign of God’s immense love and mercy that he gives us the opportunity to pray for one another and help each other attain that goal of eternal beatitude.

May you all come to appreciate more and more the rich heritage we have in our Catholic faith.

The Lord be with you.

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 13, 2011

Parable of the Talents
I’ve seen it time and time again. Someone decides to seek a better paying job, or pursue and investment strategy, or launch a new business. Invariably some pious person in the parish objects that maybe this is too worldly, that it will be a distraction from Church and family priorities, that one should be satisfied with what one has.

You’d think from this that faith equals passivity. That the only perfect Christian is the cloistered contemplative. That mildness is the greatest of Christian virtues.
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Why does God give to some five and to others only one talent?
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 25:14-30

To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each according to his ability. […] For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.

There is great danger in the interpretation of this parable, for one may easily come to the false conclusion that grace is given according to nature, in the sense that man merits grace through his natural efforts – such would be the heresy of the Pelagians
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EWTN Presents Father Robert Barron’s Epic Series ‘Catholicism’
Now, get the rest of story as EWTN premieres the six episodes of this lavishly-produced series that PBS didn’t! See “Catholicism” Wednesday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 19. These six episodes have never before been seen on national television and will air exclusively on EWTN!
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Treating Jesus as a King Without a Kingdom
One of the most important points to understand about Catholicism is that the truth of the Catholic Church flows from the truth of Jesus Christ. Her status is inexorably tied up with His. I’ve been reading John Allen’s book-length interviews with Archbishop Dolan, A People of Hope. I’m excited to do a full review of it soon (it’s a superb book), but I wanted to go ahead and highlight something that Abp. Dolan said, because I think it illustrates this point neatly:
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Being Human in an Age of Unbelief: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
Four points in defense of human dignity. Adapted from an address delivered last night at the University of Pennsylvania.

Most of my sources in this essay are not Catholic. That shouldn’t be surprising. Catholics have no monopoly on respect for human dignity. Catholics do have a very long tradition of thinking about the nature of the human person and society, but I’d like to begin by setting the proper framework for our discussion.
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The Blessings of Captivity
Among the 13 epistles of the New Testament attributed to Paul (14, if you include Hebrews), five of them were written when Paul was imprisoned. These five letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy can remind Christians how even when circumstances seem impossible (like being in prison), God can still perform miracles through our lives. If Paul had not experienced his various imprisonments, these five epistles ― or letters ― may never have been written. Composed a few decades after the death of Christ, these works have offered Christians inspiring and wonderful truths for nearly 2,000 years now.
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The Happy Priest: Are You Ready for the Lord’s Coming?
On November 20, another liturgical year will come to an end with the Solemnity of Christ the King. As the liturgical year ends, it is interesting to note how the flow of the Catholic liturgy focuses on the theme of the Second Coming.

The eschatological teachings of Jesus are very clear throughout the Gospels. We pronounce our certainty of eternal life each time we pray together the Profession of Faith. “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”
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Pope: Live Like Those Who Have Hope
Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims in Rome Nov. 6 that a loss of faith in Jesus Christ has led many people to despair in the face of death.

“If we remove God, if we take away Christ, the world will fall back into the void and darkness,” he said in his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square.

“And this is also reflected in the expressions of contemporary nihilism, an often subconscious nihilism that unfortunately plagues many young people.”
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The Recovery of Reason
The most robust defense of reason today comes not from academics and politicians but from the papacy. At a time of growing skepticism and relativism, Pope Benedict XVI stands almost alone in reason’s defense.

In his 2006 Regensburg lecture, he guarded reason against two types of foes: extremists from the East who push a distorted faith without reason and secularists from the West who advance a distorted reason without faith.
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Where are the archangels among the choirs of angels?
Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are the only three angels mentioned by name in the Scriptures, and they all belong to the same choir of angels: The archangels.

From St. Dionysius and St. Gregory the Great, we learn that there are nine choirs of angels which are gathered into three sets of three. But where are the archangels in this list? Are they toward the top of the bottom? The answer may surprise you!
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What’s So Great About Catholicism?
With its divine foundation, sanction, and mission, nothing could be more glorious than the Catholic Church. But, of course, many people — even many baptized Catholics — don’t see it that way.

Yet when the sins of men — secular material progress, or our own self-centeredness — blind us to this, they blind us to everything. The Renaissance, a great Catholic moment, enlightened the world by seeing it afresh with both the light of faith and the light of classical civilization, which was Catholicism’s seedbed. So, too, today, if we look on the world through truly Catholic eyes, we will find that the fog lifts, our perspectives grow deeper, and beauty and truth beckon above the puerility of mass popular culture.

What’s so great about Catholicism? Here are ten things –in countdown order — to which one could easily add hundreds of others.
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How indulgences are offered for the dead
Throughout the month of November (and especially in the first eight days) the Church encourages her faithful children to offer indulgences on behalf of the poor souls in purgatory. Pope Paul VI states that this is a great work of charity and helps us to grow further in charity and in communion with the Church (cf. apostolic constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina).

Still, we might wonder how it is that an indulgence can be applied to the holy souls. Since the Church on earth has no jurisdiction over the souls in purgatory, how can she provide an indulgence to ease their sufferings?
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What I Love About the Catholic Church
What I love about the Catholic Church is that it’s history reads like the Old Testament, and that feels authentic. What I mean to say, is that it is a history of rogues and scoundrels, criminals, psychopaths, spiritually insane people and incomprehensibly awful sinners.

Where else but the Catholic Church do you also find the most amazingly radiant saints, supernatural warriors for God, courageously innocent virgin martyrs, tireless friars, magnificent theologians, world changing figures who exhibit the height and breadth of redeemed humanity?
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Limbo is a Reason to Hope
In the 5th century a theologian, Pelagius, questioned original sin and taught that God would not condemn anyone to hell not personally guilty of sin, thus denying the necessity of baptism for salvation. In response, St. Augustine asserted that anyone who dies without baptism, including infants, is consigned to hell.

His opinion held during the Middle Ages changing into something less severe at the turn of the 12th-13th century, a painless deprivation of the beatific vision termed the “Limbo of Infants.” Although the Church still teaches that no one will enter the Kingdom of God without being freed from original sin by redemptive grace, modern theology focuses a greater awareness on God’s mercy.
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Purgatory and the Role of Mary as Plenipotentiary
Since November is the month in which we pray for the poor souls in Purgatory, I’d like to offer great hope and consolation to those who are eagerly praying for their departed loved ones. No doubt, our Protestant friends will be taken back a bit since both Purgatory and Mary are controversial for them – and now we are bring them together. Tradition and Scripture state that Mary has a special dominion over the faithful departed. The reason for this is that Our Lady was not required to die since she was preserved from original and actual sin. “The wages of sin is death,” writes the Apostle, and our Lady did not have sin.
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And Death is Gain….A Reflection on the Christian View of Death
In the month of November we remember the souls of the faithful departed and our obligation to pray for them . November and into the early part of Advent is also a part of the Church Calendar when we begin to ponder the last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. In the Northern hemisphere the days grow shorter and in regions further north, the once green trees and fields shed their lively green, and after the brief golden gown of autumn, a kind of death overtakes the landscape. Life changes, we grow older and one day we will die.
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A simple long-lasting recipe for success
Want to maximize your children’s chance for success? Boost their grades and SAT scores, develop good self-esteem and social skills — plus help them avoid cigarettes, drugs and alcohol?

Just 30 minutes a day is all it takes. You never have to leave home or spend a dime. Yet study after study concludes that one simple practice can make these parental dreams come true.

All you have to do is sit down to a family dinner.
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None So Blind: Obedience is an Antidote to Stupidity
Except with infallible doctrines, obedience is not an infallible safeguard. But it can go a long way toward knocking the stuffing out of us, by which I mean the sheer stupidity we generally fall into when we are too fond of our own judgment and our own will. To paraphrase Psalm 14:1: The fool says in his heart, “I need not obey.”

A person who lives in a glass house should not throw stones, but we see this in Protestantism all the time. Lacking any authority principle, relying instead on the principle of private judgment, many Protestants hold strong opinions on religious issues despite a near total lack of study of the sources of Revelation. Their view is often that Scripture is as plain as a 21st century newspaper and so whatever they think it means must necessarily be true, no matter how much it conflicts with other parts of Scripture or the Christian tradition, or even with the alternative views of many other contemporary Protestants, or even with what we might at times justly call common sense.
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SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

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