Saints and Cousins
October 30, 2016
Last week teaching 5th religious education class, I began the subject of purgatory. We have covered the creation story. We defined free will, sin, and temptation. I needed to make it this far to be prepared to share the glorious gifts the Church offers in November. All Soul’s Day would our next day of class and offer the sacrament of reconciliation, so I had my plan in place.
I have used the question “ What if you had spent the day, skiing, or sledding and on your way home someone told you that you were going to have dinner with _____.” The point is for the students to fill in the name of someone who they would love to have dinner with BUT would want to go home and clean up before seeing. I have never have a problem with this but last Wednesday -
I hit a brick wall.
“Think of someone,” I said “Who you would love to have dinner with.” “The person you would be most excited to be surprised to spend time with.” They easily came up with names, I could see that in their faces. “Now,” I said “wouldn’t you say to your parents “Wait! I need to go home and get changed. Take a shower. Get ready.” A look of confusion was on each child’s face. It was weird. “Why?” they asked. “Because you want to be ready,” I said ready to explain. “What?” they said all confused. They were the ones to surprise me. All of them, yes, all of them had chosen to have dinner with . . . their cousins.
Their cousins. Their cousins didn’t care if they smelled good, had clean clothes. After I explained my point they said, “Oh, like if it was someone famous.” They got my point but returned to their stance that if they could choose anyone to have dinner with, it would be their original choice, their cousins. One boy even got misty talking about his seven year old cousin who lived far away.
I tried again. When we die, we must be perfect to see the face of God. We can bear no grudges, have no unforgiveness in our hearts. We must be prepared for the unveiling of truth in all things. We must accept God’s will and the consequences of our actions and the actions of others. That can be hard. Sometimes it takes time and that is the beauty of purgatory. In purgatory, we experience God’s mercy and love in such a way that we can stand before God and love one another as he wants us to love. Those in purgatory experience the pain of separation from God in the same way that cousins who miss one another, hurt.
These are exceptional children, they are not far from perfect. They are already wearing the wedding garments for the wedding feast. On Wednesday, they will experience the grace of forgiveness in reconciliation and pray for relatives who have died and their favorite petition “ souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them.” I am blessed with students who teach and pray for me.
A blessed All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day to you!
The First of Octember
November 1, 2014
Beautiful Saint Lucy and Pope Pius X.
It just doesn't get any better!
The First of Octember is a favorite phrase of my husband who reads the Dr. Seus classic frequently to the kids. I have never read it; but as a literature major, referencing an unread book doesn’t bother me a bit. So much for scruples …
What does October mean to a Catholic Mother? The month devoted to Mary, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, a month meant to pull us closer to Our Mother is also the month when every visit to the grocery store is like entering a haunted house. How do we avoid the sensational and diabolical nature of this display and does it cause us to abandon popular Halloween?
Is it possible to use the constant sight of the secular to draw us closer to God? Is it possible that Halloween is the reality of our secular world and ways, unveiled without sugar coating, a Terror for all to see? Commercialism unbridled? I don’t know; but I do know it is hard to watch the country poised to celebrate the debasement of values on the Eve of All Saint’s Day, All Hallowed Eve.
There is an antidote even if comes in November, November 1st to be precise.
All Saint’s Day is marvelous! It is extraordinary in a real religious sense. It is the day we all sing out, “Oh when the Saints, come marching in! Oh when the Saints come marching in …” Did you sing that song today? I did. I sang it out loud with 35 children in costume as we paraded around the church property. We told stories of great people, our heroes, but this day is not about famous people. It is a Feast for all the people we love, people who have died and who see the face of God right now! These people have names who dot our evening prayers, they who created our family traditions, and taught us our favorite recipes. These are OUR people. So when you see the Christmas decorations replace the Halloween stuff remember, it is All Soul’s Day and its Octave. Those are OUR people too and it is time to celebrate and sacrifice for them. During All Soul’s Day, The Church is her wisdom grants us an amazing gift - a plenary indulgence. A gift of the remediation of sins for those we love, some we don’t, and those who really need prayer. Don’t leave anyone out!
Visit a Church, a cemetery, and attend Mass to offer these gifts for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Visit the devotions page to learn more about these gifts of The Church and move past the phantom of October 31st and burst into the blessings of November!
“Peace begins with a smile.”
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