This is one of my favorite times of the year: the brilliant blue color of the sky, the gold and red of the leaves on trees, the intensity of activity after the somnolence of the summer, yes, even the earlier darkness at the end of the day that makes us appreciate light in all of its forms so much more. This is the time to sit near the fireplace and watch the flames dance to their own inner rhythm, to sit and talk for a while, to remember, to reflect, to look forward, to enjoy the company of those we love and those we meet and are given to love. This is the time of hearty stews, of crisp apples, of rich Sunday gravy with braciole over polenta, of chops and loins and shanks, of pumpkin pie, of deep red wines that dance on the tongue and bring an inner glow to all.
But this is also the time of two great feast days of the Church calendar: All Saints and All Souls. They come in close succession, first All Saints on November 1, then All Souls on November 2. All Saints is the great feast that makes real what salvation is all about, how men and women have opened themselves up to the grace of God in their lives in such a total way that they became “holy”, shining examples of the glory of God in man, as variegated as the colors of the leaves on the trees in autumn: bishops, popes, monks, nuns, priests, celibate men and women, married men and women, lawyers, chancellors, artists, writers—stars in the firmament of heaven, praying for us, giving us hope for ourselves.
It is also All Souls Day that makes our Catholic faith real. For this is the day on which we pray for the dead in a special way. This day is so important that the Church allows a priest to celebrate three Masses on All Souls Day. We believe that those who have died live in Christ and that they undergo a purification that is the fire of the mercy of God in that “place” we call Purgatory. We believe that every time a Mass is offered for them, they are touched by the grace of God in the offering of the Sacrifice of the Son to the Father, and the residue of their sins is taken away, and they are speeded on their way to be with the saints, Mary, and the Holy Trinity in heaven. Prayers for the dead are an important part of our faith. I urge you all to come to one of the three All Souls Masses on November 2: 8 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and the Solemn Traditional Mass at 6 p.m. Those of you who have never experienced the Requiem Mass with its remarkable chants and beautiful austerity should make every effort to come to that Mass at 6 p.m.
May the Saints be praised and may the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla