Before the appeal, in his catechesis, the Holy Father reflected on the Solemnity of All Souls, which the Church keeps every November 2nd.
This yearly commemoration, often marked by visits to the cemetery, is an occasion to ponder the mystery of death and to renew our faith in the promise of eternal life held out to us by Christ’s resurrection. As human beings, we have a natural fear of death and we rebel against its apparent finality. Faith teaches us that the fear of death is lightened by a great hope, the hope of eternity, which gives our lives their fullest meaning.
The Pope said, “The God who is love offers us the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of his Son.”
In Christ, death no longer appears as an abyss of emptiness, but rather a path to life which will never end. Christ is the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in him will never die. Each Sunday, in reciting the Creed, we reaffirm our faith in this mystery. As we remember our dear departed ones, united with them in the communion of the saints, may our faith inspire us to follow Christ more closely and to work in this world to build a future of hope.
The Pope also had greetings for the English-speaking pilgrims present at the Audience:
I offer a warm welcome to the priests from the United States taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. My greeting also goes to the pilgrimage group from Saint Paul’s High School in Tokyo, Japan. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Japan and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Also on the Holy Father’s calendar for Wednesday evening was a traditional All Souls’ Day appointment: a period of silent prayer for his predecessors in the crypt beneath St Peter’s Basilica. The Solemnities of All Saints and All Souls begin a whole month dedicated especially to the pastoral concern for those who have died.
CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: The ritual is celebrated by Hispanic families in Latin America, the United States and Canada.
Traditionally, families spend some time on All Souls Day around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. Poems and written tributes are also shared.
The celebration had been practiced for thousands of years in this civilization and has not changed a great deal even today, except for the incorporation of Christian symbolism and values. The natives believed that death was a transition for entering into a fuller life.
The dead were also seen as the protectors of the living and those who would reward good behavior and punish those who were bad.
People also believed that there were ways of communicating between that life and this one. They celebrated this fact in various regions sometime in July or August each year.
Mary J. Adrade, who has studied and written on the festival, stated that they would don wooden skull masks called “calacas” and then dance as a way of honoring of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that were dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, were eaten by a relative or friend.
The Aztecs and other civilizations in those regions also kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth.
The European colonizers, in seeing the similarities of the day with certain Christian beliefs, had the festivities moved to coincide with All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. A number of Christian practices were, at that point, incorporated.
The ritual is also celebrated by Hispanic families in the United States and Canada.
Planning for Dia del Los Muertos can almost a year-long process, but preparation begins in earnest the third week in October. In addition to decorating the altars, which can become quite elaborate, there are foods to be made ready and other work to be done.
Foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead are a major part of the annual celebration. These are left at the gravesites as well as eaten by the celebrants. Another holiday treat is “pan de muerto,” a sweet egg bread made in various shapes, often decorated with white frosting made to look like twisted bones.
Currently, two sequential celebrations, which honor the memory of loved ones who have died, take place. On November 1st, people honor the souls of the children. The altars are decorated with special designs predominantly using white flowers and candles. Then the souls of adults are honored on November 2nd. This is done using a variety of rituals, depending on the place where the festivities take place.
Everything is made ready by October 31st, so that the people could fully enter into the spirit of the celebration the next day.
While the celebrations can vary from region to region, normally, at 6:00am on November 1st a Mass is held for the “angelitos,” the deceased children. Afterward the people move to the cemeteries. Often, the little girls of the village come dressed in satin blouses and colored skirts, white stockings and shiny shoes.
Skeletons are plentiful during the event. Often dressed in costumes they are brought to the various parties and event to “watch over” the festivities.
During the two-day period, gravesites are cleaned and decorated with flowers, particularly orange marigolds, and candles. The people may also bring toys for the graves of children and bottles of tequila for those of adults. The family may even picnic at the grave, eating the favorite food of their loved-one.
During the evening of November 1st, the dances begin as the people shift their focus to honoring the adults who have passed away. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so that when they dance, the noise will wake up the dead; some will also dress up as the deceased. Midnight, according to the tradition, is the time when the dead return to enjoy the celebration with those who are living.
On November 2nd the altars that have been built in the homes become for focus of attention. Often the altars contain crosses, pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other Christian symbols.
Traditionally, families spend some time on All Souls Day around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. Poems and written tributes are also shared.
May Herz, writing for Inside Mexico, states, “The essence of this beautiful ritual is to lovingly and happily remember the dead relatives, their life, and in this way, give meaning and continuity to human existence.”
|Youth Breakfast June 2011. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu|
DIOCESE OF PARRAMATTA REPORT: Catholic Youth Parramatta is hosting a Christmas Celebration & Diocesan Youth Forum with Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP at St Patrick's Cathedral Precinct at 1 Marist Place Parramatta on Saturday 17 December.
This will be a great opportunity for young people in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta to both hear from Bishop Anthony and to share with him your thoughts and insights on youth ministry in the Diocese.
The celebration and forum will run from 8.30am to 10.30am.
RSVP needed for catering purposes by Saturday 10 December firstname.lastname@example.orgFor any enquiries, please call 02 8838 3418.
The Diocese is promoting meetings to strengthen community-based evangelisation. Pastoral and social work among Catholics and non-Catholics helps share the faith and develop ties of friendship. The Church provides basic health and educational services to poor people.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The diocese of Phú Cường, which is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City (southern Vietnam), has organised short courses in missionary action to help spread the Good News among the faithful of the community.
The diocese has 120 priests and 91 lay people involved in the work of evangelisation. Catholics are 131,345 out of a population of 2,880,328.
Its major seminary has eight seminarians from various communities who participate in pastoral work in contact with Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
For Mgr Joseph Nguyễn Tấn Tước, coadjutor bishop of Phú Cường, the goal “is to get deeper into the life of the community” through “pastoral activities and field experiences of missionary work”.
For this purpose, “five regular plus two reserve classes have been organised for seminarians to deepen their understanding of missionary methods,” he added. Preparatory work for future priests can work “if they learn how to serve others”, combining study and practical witness.
Most people in the Diocese of Phú Cường are poor with limited education. One of the tasks of the Church is to provide basic schooling to children as well as medical and health care to both Catholics and non-Catholics.
“Catholics must help non-Catholics,” Paul Cường, from Lạc An Parish, told AsiaNews. “They must maintain cordial relations with people from other communities and in the workplace.”
It is necessary to look at the missionary path through the “eyes of Jesus” and “share the faith” to “develop relations of friendship” with everyone, a seminarian said, including local authorities.http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Ph%C3%BA-C%C6%B0%E1%BB%9Dng:-missionary-action-courses-to-proclaim-the-Gospel-23068.html
Feast: November 2
By purgatory, no more is meant by Catholics than a middle state of souls, viz. of purgation from sin by temporary chastisements, or a punishment of some sin inflicted after death, which is not eternal. As to the place, manner, or kind of these sufferings, nothing has been defined by the church; and all who with Dr. Deacon except against this doctrine, on account of the circumstance of a material fire, quarrel about a mere scholastic question in which a person is at liberty to choose either side. This doctrine of a state of temporary punishment after death for some sins is interwoven with the fundamental articles of the Christian religion. For, as eternal torments are the portion of all souls which depart this life under the guilt of mortal sin, and everlasting bliss of those who die in the state of grace, so it is an obvious consequence that among the latter many souls may be defiled with lesser stains, and cannot enter immediately into the joy of the Lord. Repentance may be sincere, though something be wanting to its perfection; some part of the debt which the penitent owes to the divine justice may remain uncancelled, as appears from several instances mentioned in the holy scriptures, as of David, of the Israelites in the wilderness, of Moses and Aaron, and of the prophet slain by a lion, which debt is to be satisfied for either in this life or in the next. Certainly, some sins are venial, which deserve not eternal death; yet, if not effaced by condign penance in this world, must be punished in the next. Every wound is not mortal; nor does every small offence totally destroy friendship. The scriptures frequently mention these venial sins, from which ordinarily the just are not exempt, who certainly would not be just if these lesser sins, into which men easily fall by surprise, destroyed grace in them, or if they fell from charity. Yet the smallest sin excludes a soul from heaven so long as it is not blotted out. Nothing which is not perfectly pure and spotless can stand before God, who is infinite purity and sanctity, and cannot bear the sight of the least iniquity. Whence it is said of heaven, "There shall in no wise enter into it anything defiled." It is the great employment of all the saints or pious persons here below by rigorous self-examination to try their actions and thoughts, and narrowly to look into all the doublings and recesses of their hearts; continually to accuse and judge themselves, and by daily tears of compunction, works of penance, and the use of the sacraments, to correct all secret disorders, and wipe away all filth which their affections may contract. Yet who is there who keeps so constant a guard upon his heart and whole conduct as to avoid all insensible self-deceptions? Who is there upon whose heart no inordinate attachments steal; into whose actions no sloth, remissness, or some other irregularity ever insinuates itself? Or whose compunction and penance is so humble and clear-sighted, so fervent and perfect, that no lurking disorder of his whole life escapes him, and is not perfectly washed away by the sacred blood of Christ, applied by these means or conditions to the soul? Who has perfectly subdued and regulated all his passions, and grounded his heart in perfect humility, meekness, charity, piety, and all other virtues, so as to bear the image of God in himself, or to be holy and perfect, even as he is, without spot? Perhaps scarce in any moment of our lives is our intention or motive so fervent, and so pure or exempt from the least imperceptible sinister influence and mixture of sloth, self-complacency, or other inordinate affection or passion; and all other ingredients or circumstances of our action so perfect and holy, as to be entirely without failure in the eyes of God, which nothing can escape. Assiduous conversation with heaven, constant watchfulness, self-denial, and a great purity of heart, with the assistance of an extraordinary grace, give the saints a wonderful light to discover and correct the irregularities of their affections. Yet it is only by the fervent spirit and practice of penance that they can be purified in the sight of God.
The Blessed Virgin was preserved by an extraordinary grace from the least sin in the whole tenor of her life and actions; but, without such a singular privilege, even the saints are obliged to say that they sin daily; but they forthwith rise again by living in constant compunction and watchfulness over themselves. Venial sins of surprise are readily effaced by penance, as we hope of the divine mercy; even such sins which are not discovered by us are virtually repented of by a sincere compunction, if it be such as effectually destroys them. Venial sins of malice, or committed with full deliberation, are of a different nature, far more grievous and fatal, usually of habit, and lead even to mortal sin. Those Christians who shun these more willful offences, yet are not very watchful over themselves, and labour not very strenuously in subduing all their passions, have just reason to fear that some inordinate affections taint almost the whole body of their actions, without being sufficiently repented of. And the very best Christians must always tremble at the thought of the dreadful account they have to give to God for every idle word or thought. No one can be justified before God but by his pure and free mercy. Yet no man will say that a venial sin, which destroys not sanctifying grace, will be punished with eternal torments. Hence there must be a relaxation of some sin in the world to come, as is sufficiently implied, according to the remark of St. Austin, in these words of Christ, where he says that the sin against the Holy Ghost "shall not be forgotten in this world, nor in the world to come." Christ, exhorting us to agree with our adversary or accuser by appeasing our conscience, mentions a place of punishment out of which souls shall be delivered, though not before they shall have paid the last farthing.
The church of Christ is composed of three different pasts: the triumphant in heaven, the militant on earth, and the patient or suffering in purgatory. Our charity embraces all the members of Christ. Our love for him engages and binds us to his whole body, and teaches us to share both the miseries and afflictions, and the comforts and blessings of all that are comprised in it. The communion of saints which we profess in our creed implies a communication of certain good works and offices, and a mutual intercourse among all the members of Christ. This we maintain with the saints in heaven by thanking and praising God for their triumphs and crowns, imploring their intercession, and receiving the succours of their charitable solicitude and prayers for us; likewise with the souls in purgatory, by soliciting the divine mercy in their favour. Nor does it seem to be doubted but they, as they are in a state of grace and charity, pray also for us; though the church never addresses public suffrages to them, not being warranted by primitive practice and tradition so to do. That to pray for the faithful departed is a pious and wholesome charity and devotion is proved clearly from the Old Testament, and from the doctrine and practice of the Jewish synagogue. The baptisms or legal purifications which the Jews sometimes used for the dead demonstrate their belief that the dead receive spiritual succours from the devotion of the living. In the second book of the Machabees it is related that Judas, the Machabee, sent twelve thousand ducats of silver to the temple for sacrifices to be offered for the dead, "thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. It is therefore a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." This book is ranked among the canonical scriptures by the apostolical canons, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. Austin, the third council of Carthage, &c. Some ancients call it apocryphal, meaning that it was not in the Hebrew canon compiled by Esdras, it being writ after his time; and Origen and St. Jerome, who give it that epithet, sometimes quoted it as of divine authority. The Catholic church admits the deutero-canonical books of those which were compiled after the time of Esdras as written equally by divine inspiration. If some among the ancients doubted of them before tradition in this point had been examined and cleared, several parts of the New Testament which are admitted by Protestants have been no less called in question. Protestants, who at least allow this book a historical credit, must acknowledge this to have been the belief and practice of the most virtuous and zealous high-priest, of all the priests and doctors attached to the service of the temple, and of the whole Jewish nation; and a belief and custom which our blessed Redeemer nowhere reprehended in them.
The faith and practice of the Christian church from the beginning is manifest from the writings of the primitive fathers. In all ancient liturgies, or masses, express mention is made of prayer and sacrifice for the dead. In the Apostolical Constitutions is extant a very ancient fragment of a liturgy, from which Grabe, Hicks, and Deacon borrow many things for their new models of primitive liturgies, and which Whiston pretended to rank among the canonical scriptures. In it occurs a prayer for the dead: "Let us pray for those who are departed in peace." There is no liturgy used by any sect of Oriental Christians, though some have been separated from the communion of the church ever since the fifth or sixth centuries, in which prayer for the dead does not occur. The most ancient fathers frequently speak of the offering the holy sacrifice of the altar for the faithful departed. Tertullian, the oldest among the Latin Christian writers, mentioning certain apostolical traditions, says, "We make yearly offerings (or sacrifices) for the dead, and for the feasts of the martyrs." He says 'that a widow prays for the soul of her deceased husband, and begs repose for him, and his company in the first resurrection, and offers (sacrifice) on the anniversary days of his death. For if she does not these things, she has, as much as lies in her, divorced him." St. Cyprian mentions the usual custom of celebrating sacrifice for every deceased Christian. Nor can it be said that he speaks in the same manner of martyrs. The distinction he makes is evident: "It is one thing to be cast into prison not to be released till the last farthing is paid, and another thing through the ardour of faith immediately to attain to the reward; it is very different by long punishment for sin to be cleansed a long time by fire, and to have purged away all sin by suffering." St. Chrysostom reckons it amongst the dreadful obligations of a priest "that he is the intercessor to God for the sins both of the living and the dead." St. Clement of Alexandria, who flourished in the year 200, says that by punishment after death men must expiate every the least sin before they can enter heaven. The vision of St. Perpetua is related by St. Austin, and in her acts. Origen, in many places, and Lactantius teach at large that all souls are purged by the punishment of fire before they enter into bliss, unless they are so pure as not to stand in need of it.
|John 11: 17 - 27|
|17||Now when Jesus came, he found that Laz'arus had already been in the tomb four days.|
|18||Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off,|
|19||and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.|
|20||When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house.|
|21||Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.|
|22||And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."|
|23||Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."|
|24||Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."|
|25||Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,|
|26||and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"|
|27||She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."|