Pastoral Sharings: "31th Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.
Commemoration of All Souls
November 2, 2014 

Lectionary: 668; John 6: 37-40

The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the ultimate commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection, and of our participation in it. For this reason the Church rarely cedes this occasion to focus on other saints, should their feast days happen to fall on a Sunday.

There are a few exceptions: the feast of Saint Peter and Paul on June 29th comes to mind, yet even there it is due to those great saints’ particularly close association with Christ and the proclamation of his death and resurrection that the Church “sets aside” the regular Sunday mass to honor them. Next week, too, we celebrate the Dedication of the Church of St. John Lateran on a Sunday, though this is owing to the original dedication of that great Roman basilica in the time of Constantine as the church of the Holy Savior—Christ himself.
Today therefore is unusual in that the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist focuses on the mystery of Christ’s resurrection through a very special lens indeed: on this All Souls’ Day we remember the dead. Not the saints—that was yesterday—but the dead.

The Church’s commemoration of All Souls’ Day has been shaped over the centuries by words and symbols which help us to face the pain and difficulty of an encounter with death with great hope. The readings today play a beautiful role in this process, presenting to us some inspiring words to strengthen us when we are troubled by the thought of death, and to give us a sense of peace and even joy.

The Old Testament passage from the book of Wisdom reminds us that ultimately the souls of all the departed “are in the hands of God”, and that there is nowhere we should rather they be. These words can be hard to accept at first, because we naturally like to think that our loved one is “in heaven”. If we are honest, however, we realize that these words allow God the freedom to do what only God can do: to heal, to teach, and to judge in a manner that is characterized by perfect justice and perfect mercy at the same time. Heaven on God’s terms, not ours.

Next, St. Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans that upon the death of a loved one we ought to call to mind and take comfort in their baptism, remembering that as surely as that loved one has now shared with Jesus in death (symbolized by immersion into the water of the baptismal font), he or she now abides in the hope of sharing with Jesus in his new and eternal life.

John’s gospel has the final word on All Souls’ Day, speaking to us as it does about God’s will to bring all his children to salvation through Christ. Jesus himself confirms not only the Father’s will but announces his own desire to see the will of the Father brought to completion: “I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (John 6:37-38).

This Sunday as we commemorate the departed faithful let us see it as an opportunity to grow in trust in the Lord, recalling that our hope for the resurrection from the dead of a loved one comes not through their own merit or through our desires for them but through the mystery of Christ who experienced death himself in order that we all might have new and eternal life in him who said: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day” (John 6:40).

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 2, 2014

Feast of All Souls—November 2, 2014
On this day, we remember all those who have died in God’s friendship. What does it mean to be a friend of God?

Gospel (Read Jn 6:37-40)

Today, Jesus gives us a glimpse into God the Father’s master plan for His creation. We know from the first chapter of Genesis that God wanted man’s friendship—why else would He create him in His own image and likeness (see Gn 1:26)? The first part of man’s story reveals what happens when men reject the friendship God offers them, both inside Eden and outside (in the nation He created for Himself, Israel). Then Jesus appears within our story and teaches us that God never intended to lose us, even though our own foolishness gave Him every justification for that.

The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day): Expressing His Love
It is only a few months since your husband or wife died, or perhaps your parents who lived with you, or maybe it was your child.  You get up from the sofa in the living room to go to the kitchen, and for a split second you think you see him or her.  Then you remember, “No, Mom passed away two months ago.”  Or you go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  Only Grandma is not there; she passed away recently.  But in an unguarded moment, in the blink of an eye, with a quick glance, you think you see her there.

The Real Presence
One of the pillars of Catholic doctrine is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. According to this doctrine, at the consecration of the bread and wine during the Mass, although the appearances remain unchanged, the bread becomes the true Body, and the wine, the true Blood of Christ, who died on the cross for the salvation of all humanity. This is the common teaching of all the apostolic Churches, that is to say, those Churches which trace their origin back to the Church founded by Jesus Christ on the rock of Peter and the Apostles, promising to be with it all days until the end of time.

Eight Days a Week
Saint Paul’s letters addressed to the Thessalonians are the oldest New Testament writings.  He wrote them during his second missionary journey, less than 20 years after the Resurrection.   On that journey he entered Europe for the first time and the Macedonian city of Thessalonica was his second stop.  In 1 Thessalonians he praises the members of the church because they spurned idols and set an example for other Christian communities throughout the world.  “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all believers” ( 1:6).

Front Row With Francis: Ezekiel’s Bones and The Church
Pope Francis continued his teaching series on the Church, explaining how the Body of Christ is a visible expression of the very life of God. Referring to a passage in Ezekiel, he warned that the mission of this vital, mystical entity is often derailed by the sins of its members.

The pope reminded the faithful that “the image of the body is used when one wants to show how the elements that make up a reality are closely united with one another and form together one thing.”  He emphasized that it is not just “a body built in the Spirit , the Church is the Body of Christ. This is not just a figure of speech. It is what we truly are! It is the great gift that we received on the day of our Baptism!”

Pray Like Jesus to Transcend Suffering
“God loves you,” we tell our children. “And your guardian angel watches over you.”

Then they go and skin their knees.

“Go to God with your needs,” we say. But how do we respond to: “I prayed and prayed, so how come things still aren’t better?” It’s hard to know what to say if we are wondering that very same thing.

Pope Francis: The Devil Is No Myth —and We Must Fight Him
VATICAN CITY — In his homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said that the devil is more than an idea, and in order to fight him, we must follow St. Paul’s instructions and put on the armor of God which protects us.

“In this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s St. Martha house for his daily Mass.

Hundreds Flock to U.S. Shrine to Celebrate First Memorial of St. John Paul II
A relic of St. John Paul II’s blood, as well as a bloodstained piece of his cassock from the 1981 attempt on his life, are present for veneration at the shrine.

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of pilgrims and faithful from all states of life flocked to Washington, D.C.’s St. John Paul II Shrine on Wednesday to celebrate the late Pope and recently canonized saint’s first universal feast day.

“To be able to celebrate in the presence of a saint on their first feast day, I think is just a point of great grace for the local Church and all the pilgrims that come here,” said Dominican Father. Jonathan Kalisch, chaplain of the St John Paul II National Shrine, to CNA Oct. 22.

The Greatest Historical Miracle You’ve Never Heard Of
After Constantine the Great, there were emperors who were heretics and emperors who adhered to Christian orthodoxy.

Then there was Julian the Apostate.

From the time of Constantine to the French Revolution, he is the only Christian monarch ever to openly reject the faith, according to Catholic historian Warren Carroll. For reasons both personal and intellectual, Julian launched the last great attempt to revive ancient Roman paganism. Animal sacrifices resumed in the reopened pagan temples while the Church was stripped of the imperial funds and lands that had been granted under past emperors.

Children and the Call to Generosity
When we were engaged, people would often tell us to “enjoy this time of singlehood” or “enjoy these last months of singlehood.” Because, apparently, when you are married, “everything changes.”

After we were married, some people told us to wait a year (or years) to have kids, again citing this so-called “time to enjoy life” — because, again, “everything changes.”

Reclaiming the Spirit … Wholly and Unsurpassed
“The Holy Spirit is fire; whoever does not want to be burned should not  come near him.”  ∼ Pope Benedict XVI

From the earliest moments of Christian existence, organized and sustained by a Church born from the side of Christ as he hung upon the Cross, there appeared a body of catechesis containing everything we need to know about faith and life, belief and behavior. Think of it as a kind of owner’s manual, about which the Church was not prepared to compromise. Does one throw up walls about a castle of straw? Not these structures—they were meant to endure. Most especially the two bookends, between which everything else fell into place; these two overarching realities, as it were, on which our lives depend. First is the truth of God the Father, who fashioned the world out of nothing. Second is the truth of God the Son, whom he sent into the world to suffer and to die.

The Darkness of Sin and the Light of Love
Without love, life would be miserable. Thankfully, we always have the love of God — every minute that we are alive, and whether it is tangible to us or not.

The paths of life can sometimes be so dark that no light seems to permeate the blackness of sorrow, sickness, or despair.  Yet, the light of faith can illuminate where all else fails, leading us ever onward and upward.

The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies
The disorder introduced into our human nature by Adam’s fall from grace reveals itself especially through seven dominant vices known in the Catholic tradition as the capital sins. These are: pride, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. We call them “capital” sins (from the Latin caput, “head”) because they are the sources or fountainheads of all the sins people commit, whether sins of commission or sins of omission. We call them “deadly” because they cause spiritual death; Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen liked to call them the “seven pallbearers of the soul.”

Spiritual growth is impossible unless we try to dig up the roots of our sins with the help of God’s illuminating and sanctifying grace.

Our Lady’s Three Rosaries
In her apparitions to the shepherd children at Fatima, Mary revealed herself as the Queen of the Holy Rosary and encouraged the daily recitation of the rosary. This devotion to the Mother of God has been recommended to the faithful for centuries.

In fact, when one is attached to habitual sin, oftentimes in the confessional the sinner will be encouraged to develop a devotion to Mary. It was St. Bernard who once in his homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother said that in the midst of trial or temptation, one should look up to Mary. Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, in his latest book, Under the Mantle, states when a person undergoes temptation, it typically lasts 15 minutes. The same amount of time it takes to pray the rosary..

About The Holy Spirit’s Protection
“A man was trapped in his house during a flood. He began praying to God to rescue him. He had a vision in his head of God’s hand reaching down from heaven and lifting him to safety. The water started to rise in his house. His neighbour urged him to leave and offered him a ride to safety. The man yelled back, “I am waiting for God to save me.” The neighbour drove off in his pick-up truck.

The Evil Dictator: A True Story?
Long time ago, in a far away country lived a boy, John, with his parents and one younger sister. One day his parents told him that long ago, in their country, lived a people that a war wiped out. The boy wanted to know more about these people who lived there and walked these same cobblestone streets. His parents told him as much as he would understand.

One day his mother wanted a bouquet of flowers for the dinner table and asked John to go in the meadow, behind the house and find her favorite colors. When he was barely out of sight, his mother called him back and asked him to go a little further past the meadow where there grew a very special flower, a color rarely seen anywhere else.

Death with Dignity? According to Whom?
Over time, terms often seem to enter our conversation without explanation. When this happens we tend to think we understand what the term means and when and how we might use it when talking with others.
Case in point: Death with dignity. What does that mean when used by those who are politically motivated to drive conversation a certain way? Let’s examine it a bit.

Death, and then What?
At funerals all too often you hear:  “Well, he is no longer suffering!” And, “Now he is in a much better place.”  And another common saying:  “Now he is in heaven with the Lord in glory!” Although the persons who have expressed these common niceties were most probably moved with good will and the best of intentions, they could be far off the target! Why this straight-forward and possibly startling remark? It is for this reason: the reality of Purgatory.

The Power of Tears
At funerals all too often you hear:  “Well, he is no longer suffering!” And, “Now he is in a much better place.”  And another common saying:  “Now he is in heaven with the Lord in glory!” Although the persons who have expressed these common niceties were most probably moved with good will and the best of intentions, they could be far off the target! Why this straight-forward and possibly startling remark? It is for this reason: the reality of Purgatory.

Stop Rushing and Be in God’s Presence
Each day is a rush from beginning to end for many people. Scarf down breakfast, run to catch a bus, work all day, pick up the children from school, clean the house, mow the lawn, edit homework late into the night – most of us can barely fit everything that needs to be done into a 24-hour span.

We might believe that we can accomplish all of this and more in our lives. After all, sloth is regarded by the Catholic Church as one of the seven deadly sins. Proverbs 6:6 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” One could take this to mean that God wants us to be busy constantly, striving to do His will and bring about His glory on earth.

Other People’s Blessings
The suffering one-upper! You know who I’m talking about. You say you’re scrambling to pay for a new transmission? He says he just wishes he even had a car. You sigh because it’s hard to find safe foods for your severely allergic child?  She swats you down with a tale of her triplets who stop breathing in the presence of the color yellow. You tweeted from the hospital, where you are slowly and painfully recovering from your eleventh foot surgery? Behold, the man born without legs is doing just fine, and even plays the mandolin! Now aren’t you ashamed?

Men, Women, and Tenderness
Holding hands, sharing an embrace or a kiss—these can be innocent expressions of love. But without great vigilance and virtue, these outward expressions can easily become a form of utilitarianism that actually ends up driving two people farther apart from each other and preventing love from fully developing.

John Paul II—then Karol Wojtyla—makes this point when he addresses the topic of “tenderness” in his book Love and Responsibility.

When Being Right is Wrong: The Deadly Sin of Pride
There is a little poem by e.e.cummings which contains a line, “even on a sunday may I be wrong, for whenever men are right they are not young.” The poet is being paradoxically playful to make a point. When we are always right about everything we have not only lost the innocence of youth, but we are also guilty of the most basic sin of all, the deadly sin of pride. Pride is best understood as being right at all costs.

Connecticut Targets Homeschoolers
Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission just released a series of recommendations including one shocking (but hardly surprising) one which could radically increase government oversight over homeschooled children.

The commission, created to make recommendation to prevent future Sandy Hook elementary massacres, is suggesting that the state should allow local officials the power to decide if parents should be allowed to homeschool children with behavioral or emotional challenges. How those challenges would be defined would be anybody’s guess. The idea of potential homeschooling parents being forced to bring children to be “evaluated” should make everyone wary.

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