Bulletin (October 29, 2006)
This Wednesday we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. To illustrate what we believe about the saints, I would like to tell you about a conversation I had with a person who had left the Catholic Church. She told me that one of the reasons she left the Church was because she didn’t believe in prayer to the saints. She told me she wanted to show me some Bible verses which prove that Jesus is the only Intercessor. My first temptation was to match her verse for verse, but instead I asked for a clarification. “First, tell me,” I said, “What exactly you don’t believe in. Do you not believe in intercessory prayer? Or do you not believe in the communion of saints?” As it turned out, she believed in both those things: that we can pray for one another and that we are part of a Communion of Saints. I tried to show her how it is simply a matter of putting those two biblical teachings together. If we can ask someone on earth to pray for a particular need, what would stop us from doing the same with the saints in heaven? They are obviously closer to God and less distracted than you or I. Although I didn’t remember the verse at the time, I told her that the book of Revelation speaks about “the prayers of the saints” being offered to God. (Since then, I did a Google search; among other Scripture verses, it turned up Rev. 5:8 - and many other references.)
I don’t know if I convinced the fallen-away Catholic. Part of the difficulty was merely verbal: the use of the preposition “to.” When we talk about “praying to the saints,” it might sound like we are setting them up as minor gods, rivals to the one God. That, of course, is not the case, and I have to say, I have not met anyone who really thought that the saints operate apart from God - like the ancient people who thought that the gods had rivalries and jealousies (e.g. Venus was on the side of Rome while Juno was on the side of Carthage). Even though we talk about praying “to” the Blessed Virgin or St. Anthony or St. Michael, we always know that they act only in union with God and in concert with one another. Our prayer is to the Father, through his Son Jesus in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Praying “in the communion of the Holy Spirit” means to pray as part of the Communion of Saints. Praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary (or to speak more precisely, asking her intercession) makes explicit what we do whenever we pray. We pray as members of a communion here on earth and in heaven.
Part of the Communion of Saints which we sometimes overlook are those in the process of purification which we call “Purgatory.” In Matthew 5:26, Jesus speaks about a state of purification after death and the Book of Revelation states clearly that nothing impure or unclean can enter heaven (21:27). Apart from those who never committed any personal sins (e.g. a child who dies before the age of reason), all of us will probably have to undergo some purification after death. In the Divine Comedy, Dante describes how the effects of sins such as anger, lust, greed, etc. cling to a person’s soul and must be cleansed before one can enter the realm of heaven. Otherwise, heaven would not be pleasant for us or the others.
One of the most beautiful things we can do for our deceased loved ones is to pray and offer personal sacrifices for them. This Thursday we have a particular opportunity to do that as we offer All Souls’ Day Masses. Of course, every Mass includes a time to pray for the faithful departed, but All Souls’ Day makes that prayer very explicit.
Besides our communion with the saints in heaven and the souls in purgatory, we also share a communion here on earth. During these weeks, we are expressing that communion by our commitment to Stewardship of Time, Talent and Treasure. At the conclusion of the prayers of the faithful, we are saying the Stewardship Prayer. I ask you to say that prayer in your home as well. This week I will be mailing a letter to all parishioners which will explain Stewardship in greater detail. Next Sunday Deacon Ted will focus particularly on Stewardship of Time. When you think about it, time is an incredible gift. None of us know how much time we have - that depends on God. But we do know that he is asking us to make a return on the great gift of time. Deacon Ted will explain more next Sunday.
En la parte en inglés he escrito sobre nuestra creencia en la Comunión de los Santos y también la importancia de rezar por nuestros hermanos difuntos. Habrá misas en español el día miércoles (Todos los Santos) a las 7:15 p.m. y el día jueves (Fieles Difuntos) a las 7 p.m. También el día jueves habrá confesiones entre 6 y 8 p.m.
La práctica de orar por los difuntos es sumamente antigua. El libro 2º. de los Macabeos en la S. Biblia dice: "Mandó Juan Macabeo ofrecer sacrificios por los muertos, para que quedaran libres de sus pecados" (2Mac. 12, 46) La Iglesia desde los primeros siglos ha tenido la costumbre de orar por los difuntos (Cuenta San Agustín que su madre Santa Mónica lo único que les pidió al morir fue esto: "No se olviden de ofrecer oraciones por mi alma"). San Gregorio Magno afirma: "Si Jesucristo dijo que hay faltas que no serán perdonadas ni en este mundo ni en el otro, es señal de que hay faltas que sí son perdonadas en el otro mundo. Para que Dios perdone a los difuntos las faltas veniales que tenían sin perdonar en el momento de su muerte, para eso ofrecemos misas, oraciones y limosnas por su eterno descanso".
Aquí en esta vida expresamos nuestra participación en la Comunión de los Santos por medio de la Mayordomía. El Diacono Abel les explicará más en su homilía durante las misas este fin de semana. Favor de rezar la Oración de Co-Responsabilidad en sus hogares, como la rezamos al final de las Plegarias Universales durante la misa.
También quisiera invitar a todos los papás de traer sus niños a la fiesta de Halloween este martes entre 6 y 8 p.m. Los Caballeros proveen gratis esta oportunidad para nuestras familias de tener una fiesta agradable y sana. Todos son bienvenidos.