ALL SAINTS DAY CATHOLIC FEAST

 

ALL SAINTS DAY NOVEMBER 1

We have two major feasts this week in our Church which reminds us of what we profess in the Apostles Creed. as a dogma of our Faith. “I believe in the Holy Spirit. the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

We too are part of that “Communion of Saints.” We are “the pilgrim Church” on earth still making our way back home, striving to become saints. We are sometimes called the “Church Militant,” because we continue to struggle with the world, the flesh and the devil.

Another part of the Communion of Saints are the holy souls in purgatory, not yet purified and perfected, but will one day enter heaven. We believe that God in his mercy purifies them and purges them of their sins and their effects so they may worthily enter into the presence of the all Holy God.

This purgation of sins and its effects is the reason we call the souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering. It is painful in Purgatory just as it is here on earth when God breaks us from our addictions and willfulness. The souls in Purgatory also suffer because they are separated from full communion with God.

The Particular feast that calls attention to their plight is the Feast of All Souls celebrated on November 2. Souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves but can pray for us. So it is extremely important to pray for them that they soon may be purified and perfected. They pray for us now and will intercede for us when they get to heaven.

Finally, there is a group of saints already in heaven, already experiencing the Beatific Vision. All Saints day, a Holy Day of obligation in many parts of the world, is celebrated on November 1. We call these saints, the “Church Triumphant.” The communion of saints is truly God’s family. This should give us great encouragement. We are vast in numbers, too many to comprehend.

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and sin… let us run the race, before us, with perseverance, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith who for the joy, set before Him, endured the cross, and is seated at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

ALL SAINTS DAY
All Saints Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history. From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us.
On All Saints Day we remember all those—famous or obscure—who are part of the “communion of saints Canonized Saints in heaven, souls in purgatory destined for heaven, and living saints among us. Retelling the stories of saints grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be. Pray to the saints in heaven and purgatory to intercede for us.

Living saints among us could be our own family members. It could be that special family member that prays for all the other members. It could be a family member that not only taught us the faith but lived and modeled the faith, we practice today. On All Saints Day, let us give thanks for both the saints in glory and those on earth, who have led us to Jesus.  Nobody is born a saint. It’s something you have to become. It is not easy but then is anything worthwhile easy.
Those saints in heaven were just like us in so many ways. Read their stories if you don’t believe me. They were people of appetites and longings, ambitions and disappointments, vanities and eccentricities.

They were sinners just like the rest of us. They struggled with sin and temptation, they’ve walked the journey toward holiness, sometimes stumbling, sometimes falling, but always getting back up and moving on, resolving to do better, to be better, to aim higher.

Who is a saint? A saint is blessed. Where do we find those blessings in Scripture? In Matthew 5, of course. Saints worked hard to become what Jesus called them to be in the Sermon on the Mount: To be poor in spirit. To be meek. To be merciful. To make peace. This is how we begin to become what Jesus called “blessed,” and what the Church calls saints. It’s a tall order. And it is nothing less than a call to greatness.

In truth, blessed par excellence is only found in Jesus. Indeed Jesus was truly poor in spirit, the afflicted one, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker, and the one persecuted for the sake of justice.

We too, can participate in this blessedness in the measure we accept Jesus and follow him, everyone according to their own state in life. With Jesus the impossible becomes possible. Remember his apostles asking Jesus who then can be saved and Jesus’ reply, “Jesus replied, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”(Matthew 19:26). With Jesus’ help, only with His help, we are able to become “perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

Holiness demands a constant effort but it is possible for all since it is not just the work of man but is above all a gift of God. In our life all is a gift of his love. How is it possible to not respond to the love of the heavenly Father by leading a life of grateful children?

Perhaps, this week look up in book or on the internet a saint to reflect on, pray to intercede for you for some special grace that will bring you into closer relationship with Our Lord. One other suggestion, you may thank a living “saint” for being a model and inspiration for you and also thank God for putting that person in your life!

CLOSING PRAYER
Lord God, you are glorified in your saints. In their lives on earth, you give us an example. In our communion with them, you give us their friendship. Around your throne, the saints, our brothers and sisters, sing your praises forever. With their great company and all the angels in heaven, we, too, praise your glory, now and forever. Amen.
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JOY OF THE GOSPEL REFLECTIONS

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION EVANGELII GAUDIUM

NOTE: The number before paragraphs in Joy of Gospel references indicate the paragraph number in actual document.

POPE FRANCIS INVITES US INTO THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL
“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. I invite all Christians everywhere at this very moment to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.”

 

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,

I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10

REFLECTION
Pope Francis makes clear that God always takes the intiative in seeking his lost sheep by any means necessary. No one is excluded or left behind. God knows our need for Him and His nourishment. So we too as disciples and missionaries must not dismiss anyone or judge anyone unworthy of our engagement.

JOY OF THE GOSPEL
180 Jesus’ mission is to inaugurate the kingdom of his Father; he commands his disciples to proclaim the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand ” Matthew. 10:7

24 “The life of the Church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that he has loved us first.”We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. The Joy of the Gospel is for all people no one can be excluded. People are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, “Give them something to eat”. Mark 6:37″

92 “We must not avoid others or exclude anyone from our mission. We are all in same boat and headed to same port. Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in gifts of each, which belong to all.”

113 “No one is saved by himself or herself, individually or by his or her own efforts. Jesus did not tell the apostles to form an exclusive and elite group. He told them to go and make disciples of all nations.” Mt.28:19

REFLECTION
Pope Francis warns us there are many enemies and obstacles to living the Gospel and spreading the Good News to others. To be on our guard and prepare for the spiritual warfare we encounter daily with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We live in parallel universe this temporal world and a spirit filled eternity.

JOY OF THE GOSPEL
64 “We are living in an information driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data all treated as being of equal importance and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment.”

263 “Every period of history is marked by the presence of human weakness, self-absorption, complacency and selfishness, to say nothing of the concupiscence which preys upon us all.”

79 “Pastoral workers often fall prey to the times. Some fall into pastoral acedia or spiritual torpor (lethargy) by taking on unreasonable projects instead of what they reasonably can accomplish. Others just because they just can’t wait, patience is not a virtue in this society of instant gratification.”

 

REFLECTION
Pope Francis makes suggestions on how preachers and evangelists should prepare for their missions. You cannot give what you yourself don’t possess. Read the bible, pray over the Bible, ask yourselves what God is saying to me today and how do I respond today!

JOY OF THE GOSPEL
145 “Preparation for preaching needs a prolonged time for preparation, a time for study, prayer, and reflection. Whoever wants to preach must first let the Word of God move him deeply and become incarnate in his daily life. One will then be communicating to others what one has contemplated and prayed about.

150 To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world. “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew. 6:33 Preparation requires the Love of God and like every true disciple say, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” I Sam. 3:9

164 First and foremost on lips of catechists is the proclamation, “Jesus Christ loves you, he gave his life to save you and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”

 

REFLECTION
Pope Francis reiterates Jesus’ love for the poor and most vulnerable and how in imitation of Jesus as disciples we are to make the vulnerable our priority in our ministry. Jesus loved the poor and performed many miracles of physical and spiritual healing. No one was too far gone in Jesus’ eyes to walk away. He engaged everyone, bolstered their faith and encouraged them to repent and sin no more

JOY OF THE GOSPEL
197 God’s heart has a special place for the poor so much so that he himself became poor, born in a manger in the midst of animals. When he began to preach the kingdom, crowds of the dispossessed followed him.

198 Inspired by this life of Christ, the Church has always understood a special form of primacy of the poor in exercise of Christian Charity. The poor have much to share with us. They know the sufferings of Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. We are called to find Christ in them and to lend our voices to their causes.

213 Jesus identifies especially with the little ones, the vulnerable. As Christians we are called to care for the vulnerable of the earth. Among the vulnerable to whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us.

213 Defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable in any situation and in every stage of development. Every violation of the personal dignity is an offense against the creator of that individual.

 

REFLECTION
Pope Francis encourages us not to shy away from our mission because of difficulties. He preaches that hope will bring about the desired changes even if we ourselves do not see the results.

JOY OF THE GOSPEL
275 Some people do not commit themselves to mission because they think that nothing will change and that it is useless to make the effort. If we think things are never going to change we need to recall that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death. A true missionary knows that Jesus walks with him, speaks to him, breathes wih him, and works with him. A person, who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain, and in love will convince nobody.

278 Let us believe the Gospel when it tells us that the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing here and there and in different ways like “the small seed which grows into the great tree.” (Mt. 13:31) and like the “good seed that grows amid the weeds.” (Mt. 13:24) and can always pleasantly surprise us. Jesus did not rise in vain.

279 Let us be assured that none of our acts of love will be lost nor any of our acts of sincere concern for others. Sometimes it seems our acts are fruitless but don’t believe it. None will be lost; no effort is meaningless; no painful endurance is wasted. All of these encircle our world like a vital force giving life according to God’s holy will. The Holy Spirit works His will where He wills, even across the globe.

GOOD NEWS, BELIEVE!
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ANSWERS TO THOSE TOUGH CATHOLIC QUESTIONS

We, Catholics, are often asked tough questions by our non-catholic brethren about our Catholic faith and its relationship to the Bible.  Today’s blog will deal with some of those questions.  For more complete answers I suggest a topic search of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) the official presentation of what the Catholic Church teaches.

Are you saved?

Catholics can be as sure as anyone else that they are in God’s good graces.  The apostle John states that “you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn 5:13).  But this “assurance” has to be understood in light of John’s other teachings in the same book:  For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.(1 Jn 5:3)

Likewise, St. Paul does not regard salvation as a one-time event, but as a goal to be sought after, one that can be lost:  “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) “Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.(1 Cor 10:12)

Some will suggest that once saved, always saved as if it doesn’t matter what you do after you acknowledge Jesus as Savior.  Nonsense!  Of course God wills the salvation of all but He gave us free will.  It matters what we do as it mattered what our first parents did.

The serpent said, to Eve, “God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know* good and evil.”Adam and Eve, by disobeying God, found our all right the difference between good and evil.  Daily conversion is required.  We must conform our will to God’s will.  Jesus atoned for all our  sins so that they could be forgiven,  But even saints like St. Paul and St. Peter had to seek forgiveness and amend their ways for salvation to take effect.

Are your beliefs found in the Bible?

All Catholic beliefs can be found in the Bible in some form, whether plainly or by an indirect indication.  Scripture also points to an authoritative Church and Tradition, as St. Paul says in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians:  “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess 2:15) When the first Christians had a significant disagreement, they didn’t simply open their Bibles (which didn’t even exist at that point) to decide who was right; they held a council, which made binding decrees (Acts 15:1-29).

A significant difference in what Catholics believe and many of their Protestant brethren believe is in the area of Sacred Tradition.  The Protestant church maintains that the Bible alone is intended by God to be the source of doctrinal truth.  They will cite verse from 2 Timothy, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Tim. 3:16). The Catholic Church, however, says, “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God.” (CCC 97)

Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.” (CCC 81-82)

Why do you obey the Pope?

Catholics believe that Jesus commissioned St. Peter as the first leader of the Church.  Matthew’s Gospel has the most direct biblical indication of the papacy:  “And I tell you, you are Peter you are”Rock”] and on this rock I will build my church…. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:18-19).  Based on this statement of Jesus himself, Peter is clearly portrayed in the New Testament as the leader of the disciples.

A Pope can make infallible, binding pronouncements under certain conditions.  Infallibility doesn’t mean that absolutely everything a pope says is free from error.  We Catholics also believe that God the Holy Spirit protects His Church and its head from error (Jn 14:16) even though sinful, imperfect men are involved in it..

Why do you pray for the dead?

The Bible clearly teaches the rightness of prayers for the dead in 2 Maccabees (12:40, 42, 44-45):  “Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids Jews to wear.  And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen….[A]nd they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out….if they were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead..

To enter heaven, one must be perfectly holy, because “nothing unclean shall enter it” (Rev 21:27) The cleansing and purifying of any remaining sin, which makes us fit for God’s holy presence, is what Catholics call Purgatory.

Why do you pray to idols (statues)?

No Catholic who knows anything about the Catholic faith has ever worshiped a statue (as in pagan idolatry).  If we cherish the memory of mere political heroes with statues, and that of war heroes with monuments, then there can be no objection to honoring saints and righteous men and women:   Statues are simply a visual reminder of great saints and heroes of the faith. The saints in heaven were never intended by God to be cut off from the Body of Christ on earth.  They are involved in intercession on our behalf, just as the saints on earth are. They are described as “so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1).

Why do you confess your sins to a priest?

Jesus Christ gave His disciples – and by extension, priests – the power to forgive sins here on earth. After his resurrection from the dead, on the first day Jesus appeared to his Apostles and said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit, Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

The priest serves as the representative of God and of His mercy.  Confession gives us new courage and a fresh start.  One learns humility by this practice, “Remember man you are dust, and to dust you shall return” The penitent grows in self awareness and holiness.  The penitent receives additional grace in order to avoid sin and attains a certainty of forgiveness that is superior to mere feelings.

Why do you worship Mary?

Catholics do not worship Mary.  We venerate her because she is the mother of God, the Word Incarnate, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Veneration is completely different from the adoration of God.  Catholics believe that Mary is the highest of God’s creatures because of her exalted role.  But of course, like any other human being, she had to be saved by the mercy of God.  She too was saved by the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of her Son.

Jesus’ merits were applied at her conception. We believe that God saved her by taking away all stain of original sin at the moment of her conception (the Immaculate Conception).  The very fact that God took on flesh and became man (Jn 1:1, 14) indicates that He wished to involve human beings in His plan of salvation for mankind.  Mary was a key person for this purpose, so this is why Catholics honor her so highly.

Why do you worship communion wafers?

A consecrated host or wafer at a Catholic Mass is the true Body and Blood of Christ, not merely bread; so Catholics are worshiping Jesus, not a wafer.  In the Gospel of John (6:51-56), Jesus states repeatedly that “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” Jesus is speaking literally and He is so firm that many followers objected and left Him (6:52, 60, 66).

St. Paul writes that those taking Communion “in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27 Moreover, in the Last Supper passages (Mt 26:26-28; “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks,* and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Nothing in Jesus’ words suggest a metaphorical or symbolic interpretation.  Jesus meant it literally and so do faithful Catholics who say Amen on receiving Jesus.  The Amen can be translated into English as so it is or I agree.

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CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY FEED THE HUNGRY

INTRODUCTION

Corporal Works of Mercy

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead

The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead.

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy seek to help alleviate material  deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death. The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily needs..

Everyone is obliged to perform the works of mercy, according to his own ability and the need of his neighbor. It is important to remember that ordinary deeds done every day to relieve the corporal or spiritual needs of others are true works of mercy, if done in the name of Christ.

The Corporal Works of Mercy are primarily drawn from Jesus’ Last Judgment discourse. (Matthew 25:31-40)  The Spiritual Works of Mercy are drawn from a variety of Old and New Testament sources such as:

My brothers, if someone is living in sin, you who live by the Spirit should gently set him right. (Galatians 6:1)

As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you.  (Isaiah 66:13)

Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. (Colossians 3:12)

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY 

TODAY’S BLOG WILL FEATURE THE CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY FEED THE HUNGRY

Hunger may be physical or spiritual. We need both food for the body and spiritual nourishment. Through scripture we know that Jesus fed the hungry and met spiritual needs of followers and strangers.

Meeting the needs of the hungry is our ministry to others. Caretakers, who provide for the sick or dying, may not have the energy to shop or cook. Providing meals to a friend during a difficult time, is an effective act of charity. The elderly or homebound appreciate visits and a meal. A good meal – accompanied by a warm heart and a generous ear – nourishes the spirit as well as the body. So visiting the sick is a two-fer, ministering to body and soul.

The hunger for food for the body and food for the soul is enormous.  It is much easier at times to recognize those who are hungering for material needs.  But we need to see and hear with the eyes and ears of Jesus who never assumed a person had material needs alone.  “Your sins are forgiven, pick up your mat.”

Jesus fed the 5,000 with loaves and fishes. He met Matthew, the tax collector and called Zacchaeus from a tree to share a meal in their homes. Jesus visited Mary and Martha and comforted them upon the death of their brother Lazarus. He made breakfast for Peter and the disciples after the resurrection. We are called to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others as Jesus did in homes, fields, and on the shore.

There are many instances of Jesus healing, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the possessed but He never ignored the needs of the soul either.  The Samaritan woman at the well was looking for an easy way to fill her bucket with water and Jesus promised her “water” that would make her never thirst again.  Jesus recognized the duality of human needs.

In his final judgment discourse (Matthew 25:31-40), Jesus turned away the “goats” who did not give any food to the least of these brethren. Jesus’ admonition to us is then later supported in the Letter of James who reminds us it is not enough to have faith in Jesus; our behavior needs to imitate Jesus.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. “(James 2:14-18)

There are many people in this world who go without food.  So much of our food goes to waste. Consider how good stewardship practices of your own food habits can benefit others who do not have those same resources.

One suggestion I might make is to be active in our local community. Almost every community has a food bank or emergency food pantry where they distribute food to families in need. Additionally, many communities have “soup kitchens,” where they offer weekly or daily meals for those in need.

Giving donations to groups like food banks is certainly important, but that still leaves us a little removed.  Experience the poor and needy by volunteering.  Get our hands “dirty” so to speak. Be in solidarity with the poor.  It is a life changer.  Compassion and mercy comes from experience of those in need. Giving money to someone else to do this work is not going to do it.  Get out there and become one with Jesus. “Whatever you do to one of these least of my brethren, you do to me!” 

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