We are celebrating the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews continues to show how the priesthood and the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ is more excellent than the priesthood and the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. We share in his eternal priesthood by virtue of our baptism and participate in that once-for-all sacrifice at every Mass. We, the members of his Body, gather together with Christ our Head, represented by the ordained priest, as this eternal sacrifice is made present sacramentally for our benefit and that of the whole world. There is no more perfect act of worship and no greater source of grace.
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints on Monday, November 1. This is followed immediately by the Commemoration of All Souls on November 2. These two feasts complement one another and give us annually an opportunity to celebrate the communion of saints in its fullness. Our membership in the Church, the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ, does not end with death. Therefore the bonds of communion which unite us as fellow members of the Church are not broken by death. In these two days we, the saints on earth (the “Church Militant”) have been inspired by the glory of the saints in heaven (the “Church Triumphant”) and we offer prayers and penances for the purification of the saints in purgatory (the “Church Suffering”).
The Second Book of Maccabees (chapter 12, verses 43-46) teaches us two very important lessons about the practice of praying for the dead. The first is that the practice of praying for the dead is “a very excellent and noble” act and “a holy and pious thought” with a view toward “the resurrection of the dead.” By late Old Testament times it became one of the duties of the go’el (redeemer)—a next of kin—to pray for the departed relative, that he would be welcomed into the afterlife. The second is that the sacrifice offered in expiation for the sins of their fallen comrades gave way to the Christian practice of offering the sacrifice of the Mass for the faithful departed. It is from this practice that the doctrine of purgatory was derived. It is this doctrine and this practice which have come to be emphasized in the month of November around All Souls Day.
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who from November 1 through 8 piously visit a cemetery and pray for the dead; or who on November 2 as well as the Sunday preceding or following, and on All Saints’ Day, piously visit a church. In visiting the church it is required that an Our Father and the Creed be recited. To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary also to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and praying the Our Father and Hail Mary for the intention of the Holy Father. The three conditions must be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the visit; it is, however, fitting that communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father be said on the same day as the visit. (Enchiridion of Indulgences) Try to do that this week.
The feast of St. Charles Borromeo, which occurs on November 4, will be transferred to next weekend at St. Charles Parish because it is the parish’s patronal feast day. This is permitted on the Sundays in Ordinary Time. The Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time will be celebrated at St. Peter Parish.
Pray the rosary this week for the souls in purgatory. Pray for Pope Francis and the needs of the Church throughout the world. Pray for the return of those who no longer practice their faith and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.