Letter from Fr. David
Dear Friends in Christ,
This week we begin the month of November, a very solemn and reflective month for the Church. It also happens to be one of my favorite months. Here are a few of my short reflections on this month.
- All Saints Day (November 1) – November begins with a resoundingly triumphant celebration in honor of ALL the blessed men and women we call Saints. If you think about it, during the Church year we have scores of Saints feasts days, but on those days we tend to focus on one or two of them, or perhaps a small group. But on THIS day we honor ALL of them, which is why I think this is one of the most important days of the entire Church year. After all, each of these Saints was once like you and me, walking the pilgrim journey of faith in this world, striving amidst their own frailties and weaknesses to follow the light of Christ and build God’s kingdom here on earth. Young and old, big and small, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, ancient and modern, each and every one of them stayed true to Jesus Christ and his Church ‘til the end. Facing all the similar struggles you and I face as Catholic Christians, they made it! Which means so can we. Indeed, these Saints (sometimes called the Church Triumphant) are our greatest heroes and sources of inspiration!
- All Souls Day (November 2) – After honoring all the blessed who have in cooperation with God’s grace merited beholding him face to face in Heaven, we immediately turn our attention to all those other good and faithful souls who have passed from this world but who have not yet completed their final purification before entering the perfect glory of Heaven. The Church has steadfastly called that “process” or “state” Purgatory. The Church’s Tradition informs us that these souls suffer terrible agony, and they long for the peace and joy of Heaven. They realize that they experience God’s purifying justice because of their sins and their failure to atone for them on earth, but at the same time they are filled with the assurance that one day they WILL be reunited with God and all the blessed Saints forever. Sometimes we call them Poor souls, sometimes Holy souls, but both are correct after a fashion. In either case, this day more than any other is a solemn day for the Church on earth (sometimes called the Church Militant) to offer sacrifices and supplications for the Church in Purgatory (sometimes called the Church Suffering). It is a sacred duty for us to do this, and frankly it is also a great privilege. In truth, some of these souls will be our own family members, relatives, and friends, who loved us in life; now we gladly return the favor and love them in death. Think of how grateful they must be for any little solace that comes their way via our prayers for them! And imagine those we helped release from Purgatory coming to our aid when it is our time to depart this world. Then we will know just how much our prayers and offerings for the dead meant.
- Veterans Day (Observed November 10) – Though not a Church holiday, Veterans Day is nevertheless a sacred day for all Americans to pay tribute to those men and women, both living and deceased, who have sacrificed of themselves for our great nation’s highest ideals of liberty, justice, truth, and the dignity of every person. We adorn the graves of veterans with flags, we have special celebrations in their honor, we thank them, and we let them tell some of their stories. And we hold deep in our hearts the undeniable truth that without them we do not live the blessed lives that we do as Americans!
- Thanksgiving (November 23) – Call it a feast of harvest, or a feast of faith, or a feast of family, or a feast of friendship, or whatever you will – this holiday is a clarion reminder that gratitude should be at the heart of everything that we are as human beings. As the ancient Roman Cicero once said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” On this day especially we consider that all is gift, and in the end we are but joyful stewards of all we have been given.
The end of November gives way to Advent, the beginning of another year of grace in our Holy Church.
SAVE THE DATES!
McHenry Deanery CCW – 1st Advent Women’s Half Day of Reflection – See Special Events Page
St. Mary’s CCW Annual Christmas Party & Dinner – See Special Events Page
The Kris Kringle Market is coming to St. Mary’s! The event will take place in Mary Hall (below the Church) on Saturday, December 9th, from 12pm – 7pm and Sunday, December 10th, from 9am – 5pm. Crafters, food, and fun! Admission is $3 for adults; children are free! For more information, contact the parish office at: 815-385-0024.
St. Mary’s Golden Diners – See Special Events Page