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Posts Tagged ‘Eternal Life’

All Saints and All Souls

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/10/31 at 12:00 AM

Reflection by Father Mark Lawlor, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Charlotte

All Saints & All Souls:  November 1st is the celebration of All Saints Day throughout the Church.  It is a universal Christian Solemnity honoring all Christian saints ~ those known and unknown.  This remains a Holy Day of Obligation.  The Solemnity celebrates all who have died and are now with God in the glory of heaven.

They are known as The Church Triumphant.  It was Pope Gregory IV who in 835 ordered the Feast of All Saints to be universally observed on Nov. 1st.  It is a day when we thank God for welcoming men and women to share in His holiness and heavenly glory as a reward for their faithfulness. The saints have shown us that saintly living is possible.  We venerate their memory, we trust in their intercession; and their Christian witness inspires us.  We know that we have no lasting home in this world.  Heaven is our hope and our goal.  In Faith, we may say that the saints have gone ‘home’ to the Lord.  On November 2nd, we will celebrate the Commemoration of the All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day).  The feast reminds us of our Lord’s victory and the promise of eternal life for those who have died in the peace of Christ.  R.I.P. is a common abbreviation in cemeteries.  It represents the phrase:  Requiescat in pace or May he or she rest in peace.  This, of course, is the prayer of the Church.  The prayers of the Mass humbly ask for the happy repose of the souls of those who have died.  The Mass actually follows the format of a funeral Mass.  The month of November is a traditional time for visiting the graves of our loved ones who have been called from this life.  They are missed and yet not forgotten.  We continue to love them.  On All Souls Day, we remember the souls of the faithful departed of whose earthly remains have been interred in our parish columbarium (known as Mary’s Wall.)

Christians’ Firm Hope in the Resurrection

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/02/28 at 11:11 AM

The Holy Father presided at Mass for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the course of last year.

Extracts from his homily are given below:

“Burial places constitute a sort of assembly, where the living can encounter the deceased and consolidate the ties of a communion which death was not able to break. And here in Rome, in those unique cemeteries, the catacombs, we are aware as in no other place of the profound links with ancient Christianity, which we experience as close to us.

“When we enter the Roman catacombs – or the cemeteries of our cities and towns – it is as if we cross an intangible threshold and enter into communication with those whose past is there, a past made up of joy and pain, defeat and hope. This occurs because death concerns humanity today exactly as it did then; and even if many things from the past have become foreign to us, death has remained the same”.

“But how can we Christians respond to the question of death? We respond with our faith in God, with a firm hope based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus death opens the way to life, eternal life, which is not infinite repetition of the present, but something completely new. Faith tells us that the true immortality to which we aspire is not an idea, a concept, but rather a relationship of full communion with the living God: it means abiding in His hands, in His love, and in Him becoming at one with all our brothers and sisters whom He created and redeemed. … This is life which reaches fullness in God; a life that we can now only glimpse just as we catch sight of a clear sky through the fog”.

“The pastors we remember today served the Church with faith and love, at times facing difficult challenges in order to ensure the flock entrusted to their care received the necessary care and attention. In the variety of their respective gifts and tasks, they showed perseverance and vigilance, wisdom and zealous dedication to the Kingdom of God, offering a valuable contribution in the period following Vatican Council II, a time of renewal throughout the Church”.

The Eucharistic banquet they attended, first as the faithful and then, daily, as ministers, foretells most eloquently what the Lord promised in the Sermon on the Mount: the possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, participation in the banquet of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us pray that this might be accomplished for everyone. Our prayer is nourished by the firm hope that ‘does not disappoint’, because it is guaranteed by Christ Who chose to experience death in order to triumph over it through the prodigious event of the Resurrection”.

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Ascension: Go and Come?

In 07 Observations on 2011/05/31 at 9:29 PM

Jesus told his disciples: “I go away, and I will come to you” (Mt.14:28) and they were joyful when He ascended.  Does this make sense?

Go and come?  Come again?  What?  We do say in the Creed: “He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father?”  So, He has gone, but where is He?

Ponder these thoughts:

The way of relating to Christ changed with his Resurrection.

Jesus is with the Father.  When He is with the Father, He sees us just as when He saw the apostles in the storm on the lake while He was praying on land.  He saw them and went to them.  So He sees us, and when we call him, He hears and comes.

When Jesus ascended He became present to all mankind, everywhere and for all times.  He is now present to all in a completely new and more powerful manner.  He has not disappeared; He is close by.

But, where is He?  He does not occupy space; He is at the right hand of the Father as God, with complete dominion over space.  When Jesus ascended, He entered into the the mystery of God, into another dimension.

St. Paul speaks of this dimension, which is beyond our present understanding. I could spend the whole day explaining the computer to the cat, and it would not understand.  The same with us now: we cannot understand the dimension of the Father.

So, it is with Faith that we accept the gift of grace from God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

We can gain great consolation from the words of St. Augustine: “God’s ears hear our prayers.”  Let us ask for an increase in faith, hope, charity and fidelity.

PS: It bothers me to hear someone say, “Well, it beats the alternative” with regard to accepting an illness.  Perhaps it is only with the eyes of faith that one can see the glass door behind the deathbed, the door on which Jesus knocks.  When we pass through it, we will find him on the other side.  May He say to each of us: “Good and faithful servant.”