Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, During this month of November, the month dedicated to relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, let us ask our Blessed Mother and our good Lord for the grace to show charity to our neighbors, including praying for the Faithful Departed. This Sunday is the Solemnity of the All Saints. In the bulletin, I share with you a reflection on choosing the path of being a Saint. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: November 1-The Feast of All Saints Solemnity: We remember in a special way that sanctity is accessible to everyone in their various jobs and situations, and that to help us reach this goal we ought to put into practice the dogma of the Commu-nion of Saints. The Church invites us to raise our hearts and minds to the immense multitude of men and women from all walks of life who followed Christ here on earth and are already enjoying his presence in Heaven. This feast has been celebrated since the eighth century. Sanctification through ordinary life: Let us rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honour of all the saints. Let us join with the angels in joyful praise to the Son of God. (Entrance Antiphon) As we recall today with particular attention, St. John Paul II has pointed out that a wealth of Christian Truth is at the core of the Liturgy, in a special way on the Feast of All Saints. Here lies the fount of all holiness, God Himself. Herein we practice the Communion of Saints through Christ in a particular way. The supernatural last end of universal redemption is signified in the Holy Mass. It is the source of sanctity for all those who strive to practice the Beatitudes as described by Our Lord. From the Holy Mass comes an indestructible hope in future glory and here we find the key to the relationship between suffering and salvation. The Roman Pontiff emphasizes: As we pray in the ‘Entrance antiphon’, the fundamental dimension of the feast we celebrate today is joy: ‘Let us rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of all the saints.’ The experience is similar to what we savor in a large family where we are very much at home. (St. John Paul II, Homily, 1 November 1980) Included in this large family are the saints in Heaven and those striving for sanctity on earth as well. Our Mother the Church invites us today to bring to mind in a special way those who have experienced difficulties and temptations similar to our own during life, yet in the end triumphed over them. There is a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations and tribes and tongues as the First Reading of the Holy Mass relates. (Rev. 7:9) They are sealed on the forehead as the servants of God. (cf. Rev. 7:3-9) The Church recognizes many saints of every age and condition today. We remember them each year and also have recourse to them as intercessors for our various needs. The seal they receive and their white robes washed in the Blood of the Lamb are symbols of Baptism. This sacrament of initiation involves incorporation into Christ, this life of grace being later renewed and increased through the other Sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist. Our good works also contribute to heightening this participation in the Divine Nature during our present life. Today we rejoice and ask the help of the countless multitude who have reached Heaven after cheerfully passing through life sowing affection and joy almost without realizing it. Perhaps while living among us they worked at a job similar to our own. Since their working backgrounds varied so greatly there may be office workers, manual workers, university professors, businessmen, secretaries etc. among them. Without doubt they must have had to confront difficulties similar to our own and had to begin again and again many times, as we make an effort to do each day. The Church does not mention the entire multitude of saints by name in the Canon of the Holy Mass. Through the light of Faith though we understand that they form a magnificent panorama of lay men and women who through the activity of each day’s task were tireless workers in the Lord’s vineyard. After passing unnoticed and perhaps being misunderstood by the high and mighty they were lovingly greeted by God our Father. They were humble yet great laborers for the growth of the Kingdom of God in history. (St. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, 30 December 1988) In sum, they are the ones who knew how with the help of God to conserve and perfect during their life the sanctification they received in Baptism. (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 40) Throughout our life we are all called to the fullness of Love. A struggle against our passions and inordinate tendencies is necessary. We have to make a constant effort to improve, since sanctity does not depend on one’s state in life - single, married, widower, or priest - but on our personal correspondence with the grace God grants each one of us. (J. Escriva, In Love with the Church, p. 67) The Church reminds everyone that both the worker who takes up his trade or profession each morning and the mother of a family committed to the daily running of the home should sanctify themselves by faithfully fulfilling their daily duties. (cf. St. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, 30 December 1988) It is consoling to realize that people with whom we had dealings a short time ago are now contemplating the Face of God. We continue to be united to them by profound friendship and affection through the Communion of Saints. They lend us assistance from Heaven and we remember them with joy and seek their intercession as well. Today we make St. Teresa’s prayer to the Blessed in Heaven our own. She too will be among those to hear our prayer: O holy ones who knew how to prepare so delightful an inheritance, help us now that you are so near the Fount of all Holiness. Draw water for those of us who are perishing from thirst. (St. Teresa, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 13:4) The universal call to holiness: On this Solemnity we pray in the Preface of the Holy Mass: Father, today we keep the festival of your holy city the heavenly Jerusalem. Our brother and sisters the saints now sing your praises forever around your throne and their glory fills us with joy. Our communion with them through your Church gives us inspiration and strength as we hasten on our pilgrimage of Faith, eager to meet them. (cf. Roman Missal, Preface of the Holy Mass) We, the faithful, are the pilgrim Church on our way to Heaven. While we make progress towards Heaven we need to gather up the treasure of good works we will one day present before God. We hear the Lord’s invitation clearly: If anyone will come after me… Each one of us is called to the fullness of Christian life through our professional occupation. God wants us all to encounter Him in our work by carrying it out with human perfection and supernatural outlook. We long for the presence of the Lord whom we will one day see face to face. Therefore we offer up all our activities to God, practice charity in our dealings with others and are generous in bringing the work entrusted to us to completion. By dealing with our Father God as a friend we can continually refine our contemplative spirit in the midst of the ordinary everyday actions of our life. We can repeat certain duties many times a day in union with the Lord. To love God and serve Him it is not necessary to do extraordinary things. Of every man without exception Christ asks he ‘be perfect as His Father in Heaven is perfect’ (Matt. 5:48). For the great majority of men, to be a saint means sanctifying our work, sanctifying ourselves in our work and sanctifying others through all the circumstances of that work. In this way, we find God on all the pathways of our life. (cf. Conversations with Monsignor Escriva, 55) What else did the vast host of glorified souls do – mothers, intellectuals, and manual workers – to win Heaven? This question is of absolute importance since we, too, desire to abide with God forever in Heaven. Those who persevere in union with Christ make an effort to sanctify the small realities of every day that Our Lord looks upon with affection. If at a given moment our fidelity is lacking, we rectify accordingly and once again set out on the right path. This is our way on earth. Winning heaven is the challenge we face with the grace of God each day. Happily it always involves the task in hand and is effected precisely among the persons God has wanted to place at our side. We need to realize fully that our generous and holy resolve to improve constantly has an important impact on others. If through God’s grace and the help of others we do reach Heaven, we will not enter into eternal glory alone, but will draw many others there with us. Christ is the measure and model of holiness: Many of those who now contemplate the Face of God in Heaven perhaps did not have the opportunity during their time on earth to carry out great deeds. However, they did fulfil their modest daily duties as best they could. On occasion they made mistakes - giving in to impatience, laziness or pride - and perhaps even sinned gravely. Nevertheless they repented right away and took advantage of the Sacrament of Confession to begin anew. The Blessed in Heaven had big hearts and led fruitful lives since they knew how to sacrifice themselves for Christ. We too are very much in need of the Lord’s great mercy during our journey to Heaven. Jesus - we need constantly to recall - keeps us going day after day. It is a tremendous good for us to pause frequently to consider Him and the graces we have received, especially during moments of temptation or discouragement. The Blessed in their lives never consider themselves saints. On the contrary, they are convinced of their great need for Divine Mercy. To a greater or lesser degree everyone experiences sickness, tribulation or low-energy periods in which everything entails a particular effort. Failure may come our way, but we have our successes as well. Perhaps at times the saints were moved to tears, but they knew and put into practice those words of Our Lord which the Holy Mass brings to our attention today: Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. (Alleluia of the Holy Mass: Matt. 11:28) The Blessed always lean on Christ for support. They often visit Him in the Tabernacle to draw renewed energy from His presence there. The personalities of the Blessed vary enormously, but in this life they had in common one distinguishing feature: They lived charitably with those around them. The Lord said: In this will everyone know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35) This is the common denominator of the saints who presently enjoy the vision of God. A countless multitude of friends awaits us in Heaven. The light of their example shines down on us, and makes it easier, sometimes, to see what we ought to do. They can help us with their prayers, strong prayers, wise prayers, when ours are so feeble and so blind. When you look out on a November evening, and see the sky all studded with stars, think of those innumerable saints in Heaven, all ready to help you. (R. A. Knox, Sermon, 1 November 1950) They will fill us with joy in the midst of any trials we need to undergo. Our Blessed Mother awaits us in Heaven too. She will offer us her hand and take us into the presence of her Son and of our faithful departed loved ones who even now watch over us. (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Queen of All Saints, St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Paul and all the Holy Angels may God grant us the gift of being joyful disciples of Christ! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
I write from Kitui, Kenya. The first week has been ver hectic. I stayed this past weekend with a priest, Fr. Richard Ngutu, in the...
From Kitui, Kenya
October 10, 2014
Growing in our devotion to the Holy Angels
October 5, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
First, I want to thank you for your prayers while I was on a mission trip to Kitui, Kenya! I think of m...