Already it is getting dark very early, and though the maples out front have not yet exploded in their customary colors, fall is well on its way. I had to turn on the heat in the church and in the rectory this week! I also received shipments of supplies I will need for Halloween, which is this coming Thursday. The veteran tick-or-treaters among you will know just what those supplies are.
If it is getting colder, then it must be time for our Fifth Quarter party next Saturday after the annual Gonzaga-St. John’s football grudge match. That is a lot of fun, and one of the ways people from around the metro area learn about our excellent parish.
We have autumn traditions besides football and trick-or-treating, but you won’t see them advertised on television because they do not help sell you anything. If you are wondering how to engage the season, without falling into commercialism, and in a way that strengthens your family and your faith, you know that the Church has something for you.
First of all, the Halloween hijinks are a precursor to a holy day – a Holy Day of Obligation, in fact, and a day that is holy because of the ones whom we recognize and celebrate: All Saints. Friday’s unique feast acknowledges that many, many of the Holy Ones of God have not received and may never receive public and official acknowledgement for their sanctity and service. Though “unlisted,” they rejoice all the same with the saints whose names we cite and whose days we mark throughout the year. As ever, when we celebrate saints, part of the reason for our joy is that they reveal what is possible for each and every one of us, and make good on their promise to help us achieve it: holiness, in eternity, in heavenly glory.
Second, after we reflect on the help we receive from all the saints who have gone before us, we acknowledge as well our obligation to offer help to the ones we love who have died, on their path to beatitude. November is the month of prayer for our beloved dead, who were good, oh so good, but not perfect, oh no. God has revealed His mercy is powerful enough to make perfect those who fall short, because nothing less is good enough for heaven. We rejoice to be cooperators with God in this project of perfection, when we bring our love to bear in union with his, and offer our time, attention, penances, and prayers for the souls of the faithful departed.
The second day of November, Saturday at 11:00, we will offer a Requiem Mass for the souls our parish has commended to the mercy of God over the past twelve months. Come do something for the ones who no longer can choose or do anything for themselves; the ones you love, or remember, who have died, and await their liberation. The music will be from Gabriel Fauré’s sublime setting of the Requiem Mass, “requiem” being Latin for “rest,” as in, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.”
Every day in November, one of our parish Masses will be offered for the perfection and purification of the souls in purgatory. You may bring the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice to bear on your loved ones who have died by submitting their names in an All Souls’ envelope along with your sacrificial offering on their behalf. Doing this, we are carefully, intentionally keeping their memories alive in our hearts and before Christ.
Our Church offers traditions that enrich us with faith, hope, and love. These dwindling days remind us that our own days are numbered, and awareness of our mortality gives us not fear, but confidence in Christ, who neither dwindles nor diminishes, for in Him there is no darkness, even in November.