November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1, which we celebrate this weekend because it falls on Sunday. This is followed immediately by the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed 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”) are 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 or she 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.
The norms for obtaining the All Souls’ Indulgence are found elsewhere in the bulletin. This year, because of the covid-19 pandemic, the indulgence may be gained throughout the month of November, even by those who are unable to leave their homes because of age, infirmity, or government restrictions on gatherings. This indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, may be gained only once a day, but may be gained each and every day in November this year. Those who cannot leave their homes but who wish to receive holy communion—one of the conditions for obtaining the indulgence—should call the rectory to ask for holy communion at home.
Note that the Masses for All Souls’ Day will be at 8:30 AM and 7:00 PM at St Peter, and 5:30 PM at St. Charles. The names of those who have died since All Souls’ Day last year will be read and a candle lit in their memory at each parish. KC Council 974 will join us for the 5:30 Mass at St. Charles and members of the Council who have died in the past year will be remembered as well.
Election Day is this Tuesday, November 3. I suspect many of us just want it to be over, regardless of the outcome. No matter the outcome, there will likely be a great deal of dissatisfaction and turmoil. Be sure to exercise your right to vote both as an act of stewardship and as an act of faith. Providentially we have our First Monday Holy Hour the day before the election. Come to pray for our country.
The feast of Saint Charles Borromeo is November 4. It will be celebrated at Wednesday’s Mass with the children from St. Charles School. At St. Charles we will also transfer our parish celebration to next weekend.
Pray the rosary this week for the souls in purgatory. Pray for our country as we elect our leadership. Pray for greater respect for human life and dignity and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.