Tuesday, November 1, 2016 All Saints Day
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.
John, Chapter 5, Verse 45
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.
Those who are not afraid place their hope in Christ.
Hope for a Hopeless TimeIf there is an age whose sole hope lies in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is our own. The evils committed by mankind today can scarcely be exaggerated. To mention just a few, these include blasphemy, the destruction of the family through abortion, divorce, euthanasia, widespread pornography, immoral fashions and lifestyles, homosexuality and so on. As Pope Pius XI once said, the contemporary world is so morally depraved that at any moment it could be plunged into a deeper spiritual misery than that reigning in the world when Our Blessed Redeemer was born. In consideration of so many crimes, the idea of divine vengeance naturally comes to mind. When we view this sinful world, groaning beneath the weight of a thousand crises and a thousand afflictions but nevertheless unrepentant; when we consider the alarming progress of neo-paganism, which is on the verge of conquering humanity; and when, on the other hand, we consider the lack of resolve, foresight, and unity among the so-called remnant, we are understandably terrified at the grim prospects of catastrophes that this generation may be calling upon itself. The reality is otherwise, for God does not abandon His creatures. Rather, He continuously assists and supports them with sufficient grace to aid them in choosing the right path. If they choose to follow a way other than His, the responsibility is theirs. Behold the grim picture of the contemporary world: on one hand, an iniquitous and sinful civilization and, on the other, the Creator holding high the divine scourge. Is there nothing left for mankind but fire and brimstone? As we face the dawn of the new millennium, can we hope for a future other than the scourge foretold by Sacred Scriptures for the final impenitence of the last days? Were God to act solely according to His justice, there is no doubt what we should expect. Indeed, could we even have made it as far as this twentieth century? Nevertheless, since God is not only just but also merciful, the gates of salvation have not yet been shut against us. A people unrelenting in its impiety has every reason to expect God’s rigor. However, He Who is infinitely merciful, does not want the death of this sinful generation but that it “be converted...and live.” His grace thus insistently pursues all men, inviting them to abandon their evil ways and return to the fold of the Good Shepherd. If an impenitent humanity has every reason to fear every catastrophe, a repentant humanity has every reason to expect every mercy. Indeed, for God’s mercy to be poured on the contrite sinner, his repentance need not have run its full course. Even while still in the depths of the pit, if the sinner but sincerely and earnestly turn to God with a budding repentance in his heart, he will immediately find help, for God never disregards him. God is charity, so the simple mention of the Most Holy Name of Jesus evokes love. It is the infinite, limitless love that drove the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity to become man. It is the love expressed in the utter humiliation of a God Who comes to us as a poor infant, born in a cave. It is the love shown in those thirty years of hidden life spent in the humility of the strictest poverty, in the three grueling years of evangelization, when the Son of Man traveled highways and country roads, climbed mountains, crossed valleys, rivers and lakes, visited cities and villages, walked through deserts and hamlets, spoke to rich and poor, dispensing love and, for the most part, reaping ingratitude. It is the love manifested in that supreme moment of the Last Supper when, after generously washing the feet of His apostles, He instituted the Holy Eucharist. It is the love of that last kiss bestowed on Judas, of that poignant look at Peter, of those insults received and born patiently and meekly, of those sufferings endured until the last drop of blood was shed.
Feast of All Saints
WHY has the Church appointed this feast? 1. To honor God in His saints, in whom He has shown Himself so wonderful, and to thank Him, as the author of all sanctity, for the benefits He has bestowed upon them. 2. To put us in lively remembrance of the communion of saints; that is, of all true children of the Church, whether they belong to the Church militant on earth, to the Church suffering in purgatory, or to the Church triumphant in heaven; but more particularly to cause us to consider, with earnestness, the communion of the saints in heaven with us, who are yet combating on earth. 3. To encourage us to strive for the like sanctity with them, and to teach us that it is by no means impossible ; for if thousands of men could become saints, why should not we, who can do all things through Him Who strengthens us, and has sent the Holy Ghost for our sanctification? 4. To pay honor to those saints to whom no particular day in the year is dedicated. 5. That, in consideration of so many intercessors, God may grant us perfect reconciliation, may give us a share in their merits, and may grant us the grace of one day sharing in their joy in heaven.
Explanation of the Eight Beatitudes
I. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in spirit are: 1. those who, like the apostles, readily forsake all earthly things, and for Christ’s sake become poor. 2. Those who, happening to lose their property by misfortune or injustice, suffer the loss patiently, in resignation to the will of God. 3. Those who, like Jesus, are content with their poor and humble position, seek no higher or happier one, and would rather suffer want than enrich themselves by unlawful acts, by fraud or theft. 4. The rich and noble who set not their hearts upon the riches and greatness of the world; but who use their riches and influence to relieve the misery of the needy and oppressed. 5. Finally, the truly humble, who, convinced of their weakness, their helplessness and misery, think lowly of themselves, and regard themselves but as beggars, who are always in need of the grace of God. To all these, therefore, in whose hearts the world has no place, there is assured, as their inheritance, the kingdom of heaven; here the kingdom of grace there the kingdom of glory.
II. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.” That man is meek who does not murmur against God for sending afflictions upon him, who is not angry at men who do him injury, but who rather suppresses impatience, anger, envy, and revenge, nay, who seeks to recompense the evil done him by his neighbor with good. Such a one is greater than he who takes by storm fortified cities; he possesses an unfailing fountain of peace, quiet, and cheerfulness; by his meekness prevails over the most hostile minds, is by such means truly a ruler upon earth, and will one day, for his portion, obtain heaven, the land of the living, there to enjoy eternal peace.
III. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” By them that mourn we are not to understand such as grieve and lament over a death, a misfortune, a loss of worldly goods, or the like; but those who are grieved that God should be in so many ways offended by themselves and by others that His Church should be so heavily oppressed, and thereby so many souls lost that have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. The only evil really to be grieved for is sin, and the tears shed on account of sin are the only tears that are profitable, for they shall be recompensed with everlasting joy.
IV. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill.” Hunger and thirst denote the most ardent longing after those virtues which constitute Christian perfection; such as humility, meekness, the love of God and of our neighbor, penance. Whoever longs for these virtues as the hungry man does for food and drink, and prays to God for them with perseverance and earnestness, shall have his fill; that is, he shall be enriched with them, and one day shall be satisfied with eternal happiness.
V. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The merciful here spoken of are: 1. Those who willingly for give the injuries done to them. 2. Those who have compassion on their poor neighbors, and, according to their ability, sustain them by alms. These shall obtain mercy; that is, God will forgive them their sins and endow them abundantly with the goods of this world and of the world to come. Thus God deals with us as we deal with others.
VI. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.” The clean of heart are those who preserve with care the innocence with which they are invested at holy Baptism, or seek to regain it, when lost, by penance; those who keep their hearts and consciences unspotted from all sinful thoughts, particularly from all unchaste thoughts, desires, words, and acts, and who endeavor in all things to have a pure intention directed to God alone. They shall see God, that is, they shall know Him even here upon earth, for as the eye that is to see must be clean, so only souls that are pure and unstained can behold God. But further, our knowledge is like our hearts; the purer the heart the clearer and greater is the knowledge of God. But in the world above they shall see, know, and possess Him as He is. What blessedness! Strive, therefore, to keep your heart clean.
VII. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” By peace-makers we are to understand those who have peace with themselves, that is, a quiet conscience, and who endeavor to maintain peace among others, or to restore it when broken. Such are called the children of God, because they follow God, Who is a God of peace, and who even gave His only Son to reconcile the world with Him, and to bring down upon earth that peace which the world itself could not give.
VIII. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Hereby all those are declared blessed who, on account of the true faith, of virtue, of the fear of God, of purity, are persecuted, calumniated, and even put to death, and who bear all this with Christian patience and constancy, nay, with joy. Thus have the saints done, and thereby they have gained the heavenly crown. Do we desire to be crowned with them; we must also suffer with them. And in truth, if we would apply ourselves zealously to virtue, occasions will not be wanting to us, for all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
In the Roman liturgical books, the celebration of All Saints' Day ends in the afternoon. When it is time for evening Vespers, the office for the Dead is recited in preparation for All Souls' Day. Those who do not use the breviary have followed the same pattern as well. Beginning at sunset on All Saints' Day, families gather in one room, extinguish all lights except the blessed candle that had been saved since Candlemas Day, and pray for the souls of their departed loved ones. In Brittany a group of men would actually go from farm to farm at night, shouting: "Christians awake; pray to God for the souls of the dead, and say the Pater and Ave for them." The household would reply "Amen" and rise in prayer.
The "Octave" of the Dead
The Church has never instituted an octave for All Souls' Day (though prior to 1955 it had one for All Saints' Day). Nevertheless, popular piety has extended all of the afore-mentioned customs over an eight day period. The Church has encouraged this in at least one way: it grants a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, to anyone who visits cemeteries from November 1 to 8.
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