My Dear Friends,
Happy All Saints Day!
On this solemnity, I invite you to open up the Catechism of the Catholic Church to explore a line that we say in the Creed every Sunday. Paragraph 946 says: After confessing “the holy catholic Church,” the Apostles’ Creed adds “the communion of saints.” In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?” The communion of saints is the Church.
Last weekend, I started preaching on the communion of saints, but wanted to leave the bulk of that preaching for today. This is something that is central to our Catholic faith because we profess it every Sunday in the Creed and every time we start to pray the rosary. In paragraph 954, the Catechism goes deeper into explaining this by teaching us about the “three states of the Church:
“When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is.’”
Many of you may recall your old Baltimore Catechism days of learning about the Church Militant (here on earth), the Church Penitent (the blessed souls in purgatory), and the Church Triumphant (saints in heaven). When we celebrate the Eucharist, we are united in a profound way with those who have gone before us. The reason I mentioned the communion of saints last week was because I was preaching our annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Mass. I was telling the parents who have lost little ones that even in our liturgy, the Church affirms that these innocent souls are in heaven and that through the communion of saints we are united to them through the Holy Eucharist.
On this day, we celebrate the saints in heaven that are models for us of how to love Christ and who are now in heaven, but tomorrow on All Soul’s Day and throughout the month of November, we pray for the Church Penitent: the souls in purgatory who are being purified. The Catechism affirms in paragraph 958 that we are also in communion with our faithful departed:
Communion with the dead. “In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her suffrages for them.” Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.
Tomorrow on All Soul’s Day, we will have the opportunity to come together to pray for the souls of our departed loved ones. At 7:00 p.m., we will have a solemn Mass for All Souls, and I invite you to bring a picture of your departed family members so that we may place them on the altar rail. During the offertory, I will incense those pictures as we pray that their souls be received by God so that they may not only receive the merits of heaven, but may also intercede for us until we all meet in the heavenly kingdom.
Finally, after the All Soul’s Day Mass has concluded, we will expose the Blessed Sacrament in our church for 24 hours to pray for our nation during this upcoming Election Day. When we kneel before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, all the angels and saints in heaven join us. I remember one of my spiritual directors in seminary telling me to picture when we pray all our favorite saints sitting with us adoring the Lord and interceding for us. So, I invite you to come and spend an hour with our Lord during this most important time in our nation’s history. Father Omar will give Benediction at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night to conclude the 24-hour devotion. Also, and this should go without saying at this point, please vote! It is our moral obligation as Catholics to participate in the political process as we seek to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth. We pray for our nation through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate Conception who is the patroness of the United States, and we pray for peace in our hearts and throughout this great land this week. We hope to see you this week at the altar of the Lord as we unite in prayer with all the saints.
God bless you all,