Sunday, October 26, 2014
Next Sunday the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls. The Church prays for and remembers the faithful departed throughout the entire year. However, All Souls’ Day is the general, solemn, day of commemoration, when the Church remembers, prays for, and offers Masses for the faithful departed.
Christians have been praying for their departed brothers and sisters since the earliest days of Christianity. Early inscriptions on catacomb walls attest to the ancientness of prayers for the dead, even if the Church needed more time to develop a substantial theology behind the practice.
In the early Church, departed Christians' names were placed on diptychs – a hinged painting that closes like a book. In the sixth century, Benedictine communities held commemorations for the departed on the feast of Pentecost. All Souls' Day became a universal festival largely on account of these Benedictines.
The feast soon spread, and today all Western Catholics celebrate All Souls' Day on November 2nd, as do many Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Christians. Initially many Protestant reformers rejected All Souls' Day because of the theology behind the feast (Purgatory and prayers/masses for the dead), but the feast is now being celebrated in many Protestant communities.
There are many customs associated with All Souls’ Day, and these vary greatly from culture to culture. In Mexico they celebrate All Souls’ Day as el dia de los muertos, or "the day of the dead." Customs include going to a graveyard to have a picnic, eating skull-shaped candy, and leaving food out for dead relatives. If all of this seems a little morbid, remember that all cultures deal with death in different manners. The Western aversion to anything related to death is not present in other cultures. In the Philippines, on the eve of All Souls’, partiers go door-to-door, requesting gifts and singing a traditional verse representing the liberation of holy souls from Purgatory. In Hungary, a common custom is inviting orphans into the family and giving them food, clothes, and toys. As a sign of welcome, Poles leave their windows and doors ajar on the night of All Souls’ Day for the spirits of their loved ones to come and visit.
At Mass next weekend, we ask all parishioners to bring a photograph of a loved one who has passed whose soul you would like lifted up. We will pray for all the departed with our loved ones in our midst.
Praying for the dead goes back to the Hebrew Scriptures. Saint Paul prayed for the dead and we continue to do so today. For those who have died are changed, not gone, and continue to benefit by our prayers.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
This weekend in Rome, the Holy Father beatified Pope Paul VI, the last step toward him being named a Saint. Blessed Paul VI was elected Pope upon the death of Pope John XXIII who was named a Saint this past April. John had called the world’s bishops together for the Second Vatican Council which ended upon his death in 1963. To replace John, the cardinals elected Giovanni Cardinal Montini believing the Archbishop of Milan would let the Council go quietly into history. John had planned for the Council to reconvene in 1965. Upon his election Paul VI made the announcement that the Council couldn't wait and he ordered the Bishops of the World to reconvene in less than one year.
Before the Council even met the most extensive consultation of bishops in the history of the church had produced over nine thousand proposals for the agenda. The bishops kept in mind that the pope insisted that the council work not only to renew the spiritual life of the Catholic Church, but also to look toward the reunification of all Christianity.
The Council met in four sessions over the autumns between 1962 and 1965. The first session was by far the most dramatic and set the direction for the other three. It saw the world's bishops clearly opt for substantial liturgical reform - calling for the Church to look at how the earliest Christians worshipped and to restore the Mass and the role of the laity.
Blessed Paul VI presided over the last three sessions and saw the bishops produce sixteen documents, all of which passed by overwhelming majorities. For example, the document that changed how Mass is celebrated, "The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" was approved by a margin of 2,147 to 4.
The council over which Paul presided saw that there was scarcely an element in the Catholic Church’s internal life or in its relationship with others that was unaffected. We can thank Blessed Paul for seeing that all of the Rites we celebrate were reformed and are celebrated in the languages we speak; Sacred Scripture is more central to our worship and its study is now common among Catholics; lay women and men now serve in ministries and have more opportunities for participation.
Externally, dialogue has replaced suspicion in relations with other Christian communities, with other religions, and with the world itself. The Catholic Church sees itself as a partner in the common task of creating a more human world.
It is no exaggeration to say that Paul VI is truly great having overseen the overhaul of the largest organization in the world, and having done so with love.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
If you’ve ever attended either our 9:30 or 11:00 o’clock Masses you’ve probably noticed Deacon or Father dismissing children aged from six to twelve years old after the opening prayer. You may have wondered why the children are being sent from our midst and what they’re doing while they’re gone.
For many years Risen Savior has had a Liturgy of the Word for children. It is there that they listen to the readings from Sacred Scripture written to their level of understanding. The first reading is done by one of the children; a special honor for any child and one they take very seriously. Their adult leader proclaims the Gospel after the children have sung their alleluia. Following the Gospel proclamation the children, with the help of the leader, discuss the readings and how they are relevant to their lives. They complete their Liturgy of the Word with prayers of intercession, their voices raised in “Lord, hear our prayer.”
Not only does the Liturgy of the Word allow our children to come to understand the teachings of Christ at their own level, but it also encourages participation from even the youngest in the group.
Children’s Liturgy of the Word has been part of our parish for many years, and we would love to keep it going. Adult volunteers are desperately needed as leaders and as chaperones. The role of leader includes training to help facilitate elementary aged children in their learning process. Chaperones assist the leader in watching the children and in maintaining a positive learning environment.
The few leaders who are currently participating have been serving for a number of years, and while they enjoy their ministry, we would like to have enough leaders and chaperones so no one need serve more than once a month – a goal we are certain we can meet with your help.
What qualifications need a leader have? One doesn’t need to have school-aged children or be a teacher. One only needs an open heart and a desire to share their faith with others. The role of chaperone is even easier! Be willing to escort the children to the library and watch them while they learn.
As with all ministries, those who desire to participate must have attended the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Safe Environment Workshop. Our children’s safety and future are of the utmost importance to us. Won’t you help? Contact Barbara here at the parish if you’d like to volunteer or for more information.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
October is Respect Life Month for Catholic parishes in the United States. But what does it really mean to respect life?
As Catholics, we understand that because life begins at conception, abortion is wrong. The Catechism says, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. …” (Paragraph 2270) For this reason, we must be concerned with protecting the lives of unborn children. For some, that means praying outside clinics or volunteering at organizations that support unwed mothers; for others, it means working to change a system that disenfranchises young, unwed pregnant women.
But being pro-life involves so much more, and as Catholics, we are called to be pro-life even when it is difficult. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wants us to broaden the scope of our parish pro-life activities by pointing out life issues deserving of our attention and efforts: Capital Punishment; People Living with Disabilities; End of Life Issues; Health Care; War; and Hunger, to name just a few.
Our American bishops teach us that, “Increasingly, our society looks to violent measures to deal with some of our most difficult social problems – millions of abortions to address problem pregnancies, advocacy of euthanasia and assisted suicide to cope with the burdens of age and illness, and increased reliance on the death penalty to deal with crime. We are tragically turning to violence in the search for quick and easy answers to complex human problems…”
As we consider our stand on life issues, we must embrace the concept that being pro-life is more than simply being anti-abortion. It is not for us to judge which lives are innocent and which are not – that discernment is for God alone. Rather, we must believe, as the Catechism tells us, that every human life is sacred because we are all made in the image and likeness of God. (Paragraph 2319) “Our witness to respect for life shines most brightly when we demand respect for each and every human life…”
Respecting life means that we speak up for the rights of workers and for a just wage for all Respecting life means we find a way to treat immigrants with love whether they’ve crossed civil borders with papers or without. Respecting life means that all of God’s children are giving the opportunities to a full, healthy, and nurturing life without being denied it by governments or individuals.
All life is sacred. All life is from God. All life is to be respected.