Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween, but...

don't forget about the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1 and All Souls' Day November 2.

We all know about Halloween: it's the day when you get to knock on neighbors' doors and vaguely threaten them with "tricks" if they don't fork over the "treats". Although it has yet to be proven, I firmly believe that Halloween is sponsored by either wiccans or dentists, or wiccan dentists...

The Feast of All Saints, or the Solemnity of All Saints. Want to know what a Saint is, and why we dedicate a whole day to them? Kathy Coffey's post The Feast of All Saints: God's Glorious Nobodies explains: In case you don't get a chance to read it, here is a summary of her insightful essay:

Perhaps we should celebrate this feast by looking more appreciatively at those around us: saints in disguise or in progress. There we’ll find proof of Thomas Merton’s saying, "To be a saint means to be myself."

So, what do we (I can only speak for myself as a Catholic) do on the Solemnity of All Saints? I plan on attending morning mass, to start the day off. And later, as I recite my Divine Office prayers, I'll be thinking especially of all the saintly people in my life. Those are the people who inspire me to be a better person every day, and for which I'm thankful to have in my life. I'll also be thanking all the martyrs of the Catholic Church. For, without them shedding their blood for the faith, there might not be a Church today for me to partake in.

And on November 2, All Souls' Day, we dedicate the day to the souls of our departed loved ones. My wife and I filled out two envelopes with some of the names of our departed loved ones. These names will be read at church over the next few weeks along with other congregants' names. It is yet another opportunity to remember those who have mattered to us and who are gone from our lives. The whole congregation will pray for their souls. What will this achieve, you ask.

To answer, both of the following quotes are from

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).

So, on November 2, I will be thinking of my departed family and friends, including my parents, both gone now for nine years, and I'll be praying for their souls, that they may get to heaven, and that they may look after me and my family.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone. And if you can, take a moment on November 1 and 2, and give a thought to your departed loved ones.

~ JT ~

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