It was a weekend when this place in this world was a fabulous place to be. The weather was crystalline, the air fresh, the sun bright, the sky blue, the leaves multicolored, the women strong, the men good looking, and all of the children, all of them, in a terrific mood. Why can’t it last forever?
All of the best of Saint Bernadette was not only on display, but hard at work last weekend, making it clear to any visitor – and there were many – what a delightful parish this is. I take this opportunity to thank Lauren Draley and the Barsches, Jess and Stanley, for all their good work in organizing and executing the fall festival. Many folks contributed to its success, including but not limited to the Rosensteel Knights of Columbus, the CYO, the HSA, the Scouts of Troop 440, the guys of Holy Name, and everyone who volunteered. But I am grateful to everyone who showed up and had fun, and to everyone who invited or brought along friends, family, or neighbors.
As if guided by the finger of God, our festival landed on the most perfect October weekend possible, but was later than usual this year. That means it’s already almost Halloween, which is at its roots the vigil of All Saints Day. So this Thursday we begin November with a Holy Day of Obligation, and four Masses during the day for you to recognize and celebrate all the Saints, including those the Church has not been able to recognize formally. Maybe you know some of them!
The next day, we commit ourselves to the great Spiritual Work of Mercy that will characterize the whole month: prayer for our beloved dead. On All Souls Day, Friday November 2, in addition to the two usual daily Masses, we will have a special evening Mass, offered especially for all who have died and been buried from our parish over the past year.
Looking at the list of names, I was amazed at how many of these people were prominent members of the parish, well-known and loved. Read through it yourself – it’s printed in the bulletin – and see if you don’t know several of them. Then come, join us and their families at the altar in prayer for these souls.
You should also be preparing your list of names for your All Souls intentions. Add to your roster any of your family and friends whom you have lost this year, and maybe some others as well, such as names you pick up from the news – people you may not know personally, but whose tragic or heroic deaths moved you. This is something you can do for them, now that they can do nothing for themselves. You can put it in your envelope with your offering at any time from now on; it will rest on our altar with those provided by everyone else in the parish, and receive the intention of one Mass each day throughout the month.
Our kids dress up on Wednesday evening, Halloween, partly to evoke how scary death can be, but in a way that harms nobody, so it makes us laugh. Our prayer for all our loved ones who have died is another way we reduce our fear of death, by consciously entrusting them to the mercy of God, and reminding ourselves that Jesus has conquered death for all who believe in him. It is another vital celebration of our communion in Christ, as our Fall Festival was, only more serious. It’s something we do together, with our children, so that we all know and understand this reality as certain as the changing of the seasons and the falling of the leaves. Because like a beautiful fall day, our time here will not last forever.