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Contents: Volume 2 - ALL SAINTS (A)
 - November 1, 2020


Solemnity

  ALL

  SAINTS

   2020

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Solemnity of All Saints 2020

I was once told that this solemnity to honor all the saints whom the church recognizes should be truly a wonderful celebration. I was also reminded that we are all called to be saints and we should celebrate those as well who are known to us as saintly people in their lifetime. How is it that we become among those saintly people, canonized or not?

This Sunday's Gospel selection according to Mark gives us a wide range of suggestions. In this time of pandemic, election strife in the US, and problems throughout the world, let alone our own personal lives, there are plenty of opportunities to receive the blessings of consolation. Many around us mourn, are merciful, and are peacemakers. Many people act for the sake of righteousness and are often insulted for doing good. There are the poor in spirit, the meek, and those who are clean of heart, all showing us the way to be blessed by our God.

We are all indeed blessed because we know about our heavenly reward. I think that we need to admit, however, that It is still difficult to "rejoice and be glad" in the midst of turmoil. For me, reconciling the two seemingly opposite thoughts revolves round hope.

I think the Beatitudes are those calming reassurances guiding us to continue to practice positive activities. Those activities can be life-changing for us and others. We may not be literally dancing with joy much these days, but the peacefulness of God's consolation does lead to a quiet rejoicing and gladness. How consistently distraught must those be who do not believe and have no hope?!

Let us pray for them, for ourselves and loved ones, and for our world. Let us remember that we all belong to God who loves us, each and every one. Let us count on the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to bring us to the heavenly kingdom, even as we struggle here on earth.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Solemnity of All Saints November 1 2020

Revelation 7:2-4 & 9-14; Responsorial Psalm 24; 1st John3:1-3; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 11:28; Matthew 5:1-12

It is harvest time in the northern hemisphere. It is a time of gathering in the grains, the fruits, the nuts, and the work of preserving food for man and beast against a threatening winter. Despite the continual presence of the four horsemen identified in the book of Revelation, we have made it to harvest time. Those terrible four horsemen, riding on horses of color which depict their effect on humanity and nature are a thing of fright and threat.

There is the warrior on the white horse who carries in his hand the bow of military conquest and wears the crown of overwhelming victory. The crown is a crown of military achievement, of occupation, robbing peoples of their cultural, religious, and economic cultures. Are there any peoples currently in our world oppressed, persecuted by the power of oppressors?

There comes as well the red horseman, carrying a great sword, wielding death and destruction wherever he rides. He brings active war, he brings violent conflict between opposing groups, he brings looting and burning. He encourages violence as solution to opposing ideas and ways of living. He morphs voices raised in protest into justification for bearing and using arms and weapons of death to eliminate others. Violence is his friend. His power divides, sets brother against brother, father against sons and daughters, mothers against their children. Are there any such violent forces in the world – in our nation, encouraged by forces seeking personal gain from violence?

There comes then a horseman on a black horse. In his hands he holds a scale to measure out the necessities of life in a balance weighted to defraud the purchaser. This leads people and their families to malnutrition, the theft of energy, and stealing limited assets not only of the poor but also those with resources. This is the horseman who seeks monopoly, who buys political influence, whose purpose in life is to build wealth on the backs of the poor. Do we know of any group in the world, in our country lacking empathy for those in need? Do we know of any group who look for methods and conspiracies to enrich themselves at the expense lesser endowed persons?

There comes the last horseman, riding a pale horse, a horse whose color is a sickly combination of white and mossy green. His energy is derived from pestilence, from plague. His victory is marked by death so frequent that death’s separation lacks mourning and grief. His greatest tool is pandemic which reaches the four corners of the earth, crushing men, women, and children. Do we know this horseman? We recognize his reach and his achievements. His victories are denied by those who lack compassion and empathy for the loss of parents, children, spouses, and siblings.

There is also in the Book of Revelation the angels of the winds. One of these winds mirrors the Santa Ana winds we experience in the western lands of our nation. That wind, for Israel, came off the desert. It dried all vegetation and brought with it raging fires that destroyed, that spread so quickly as to catch persons in its rampage. How descriptive this is for what is happening in the mountains and cities of our western nation. Scientists point to this and to the terrible storms that sweep over much of our nation as results of climate change. There is evidence that changes in nature’s cycles are bringing destruction to much of our earth. There is concern and much fear that we are at the beginning of a cycle that will bring famine, loss of arable land, and the poisoning and loss of potable water necessary for human, animal, and vegetative life.

Human life is under major threat. So it has been throughout human history. There are forces of evil that seek to destroy, to maim, to control, to achieve wealth, power, and influence over others. As a child, these stories from Revelation were causes of fear. Who can survive? Who can be saved from the storm that was surely coming?

That is the story of Revelation. There is a constant battle of evil forces against the forces of growth, fullness of human life, and against those whose lives are guided by the Beatitudes in the gospel reading from Matthew this week-end. There are some religious folk who believe that in the time of conflict the elect will be raised into the clouds to serve as spectators to the great conflict unfolding on earth. Revelation denies this. The revelation of the book of Revelation insists that the elect will endure, will preserve. They are marked on the forehead with the sign of the Lamb. They have washed their lives in the outpouring of the Blood of the Lamb. This seems gross – to be washed in blood. The meaning is that those who are signed are those who have lived with the life of the Lamb. Blood is how bodies provide nourishment, energy, strength, and vitality to the whole body. Living in the Way of the Christ means to live with the very life of the Lamb, the Anointed One, the Messiah, The Christ. Thus, the elect are those whose energy and source of endurance comes from the very life of the Christ. Without that vitality, without that personal and communal allegiance to the Way of Jesus, people will be destroyed; their loss of life is not merely a physical death. The death of deaths is to lose forever the consciousness of our unique and God-Imaged-and-Likenessed person. That is the death we most fear. With the death of our unique person, we become as though we have never lived, never experienced, never loved, or were loved.

From this terrible conflict John of Patmos describes thee follows a harvest time. He counts a hundred and forty-four thousand from each tribe of Israel. This number is not a number of limitation; the numbers mean only that there are too many to count. What stadium, what arena is large enough for twelve times one hundred and forty-four thousand? Only a vast plain can serve as a gathering place. Any calculated number is too small for God’s harvest. There is an uncountable gathering of people from all over the earth, from all tribes, from all colors, from all languages, from all traditions, from all histories. It is a grand sight. The troubles brought by the four horsemen and the desert winds are badge marks, combat ribbons of life well lived. These are the martyrs who have washed their actions in the blood of the Lamb. They are martyrs; they gave witness to the presence and the power of the Lamb by their choices and actions.

These are the children of the Living God. Ah, the Living God! This is the God who lives, who never dies. The idolatry of those on the white horse discovers their human defined gods have no staying power. Those who discover power in creating strife discover their god is the god of their own deaths, derived from the black horseman. The power of the market and of commerce of the red horsemen discover the false balance weights are millstones that submerge them into the depths of the sea, forgotten. They lose their lives and even their mansions and power disintegrate into rubble. Those who ignore or use pestilence for their advantage are overrun with the disease used. Their riding the pale horse brings them to perdition. Their failure of compassion and empathy separate them from the creator God whose treatment of his creation is committed by God’s own word to loving kindness for each bit of his creation.

This is harvest time in the north. It is when the grain is sifted and the chaff is borne away by the desert wind to burn into faceless ash. But those who have lived their lives in witness to the Blood of the Lamb, that life of the Incarnate God among us, these are gathered in a quiet peace and welling up joy in the hearts of each, gathered into a multitude of diversity and color and experience and fullness. Who can ever tire of meeting these unique individuals?

The lesson for us this celebration of the harvest is that we should never give up on the presence of the Living God. Let us never, ever, ever fall prey to man-made gods that seek to rob us of vitality and life.

In the Breviary’s second reading in the office of readings for All Saints, the abbot St. Bernard writes of the end time gathering on the vast plain of Revelation.

"The saints have no need of honor from us, neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly if we venerate their memory, it serves us not them. But I tell you, when I think of then, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning. Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits….."

What Bernard’s writing tells me is this: that my Mom and Dad, my uncles and aunts, my ancestors will be on that great plain as well. What a delight to learn at long last how they felt as young men and women; how they struggled through adolescence; how they dealt with the terrors of their days – the wars, the persecutions, the struggles to survive and to raise their families. We will have time to ask those who left homeland to come to a new world how they survived the difficulties they encountered. What a great time to renew conversation with classmates: with those in whose company we discovered commitment and love; with those we shared work as we earned a living; with those we never knew but whose lives made ours possible. What a grand time, what a delightful chance to explore the depth of the lives of others. Beyond all that – this sounds like a TV offer -- we will have face time with our Creator.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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OUR CALL TO GOODNESS OF LIFE: FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

  • For you personally, what qualities must someone possess, for you to regard her or him as a really good person?
  • Are they different for a man than for a woman?
  • Are they qualities that Jesus showed?
  • What would you like to change in yourself to be the best person you can be?
  • Can you do this on your own?

In today’s gospel (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus gives us his challenging advice on how to be good people. He has told us, in fact, how to be the best people we can be, and about the qualities he wants to see in us, his followers. A quick focus on those qualities shows us that they are the very opposite of common and accepted standards and values.

The world around us says, ‘Blessed are the rich, because they can have anything they want.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ By ‘poor in spirit’ he means those who put their trust in God rather than money; and those who admit that it is not their income, possessions or bank account that makes them rich in the eyes of God, but what kind of people they are.

The world says, ‘Blessed are those who live it up, and never stop having fun.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are those who mourn.’ He means those who let themselves feel the misfortune, pain and sorrow of the hungry, the homeless, the shunned, the orphans, the aged, the tortured, the persecuted, the outsiders, the outcasts and the overlooked, and who respond to them with understanding, sympathy, kindness, compassion, and the most practical assistance.

The world says, ‘Blessed are the assertive and aggressive that talk tough and act tough.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the gentle.’ Gentleness is not weakness, but a form of strength. St Francis de Sales used to say that you can catch more flies with a spoon full of honey than a barrel full of vinegar. In Jesus’ book there’s just no place for bullies and bullying.

The world says, ‘Blessed are those who hunger for power, status, and fame.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right.’ The only power and status we really need is to keep living in God’s way and to keep doing the right thing. More satisfaction and contentment will be found in living with a good conscience than in hanging out with the movers and shakers and wannabes of this world.

The world says, ‘Blessed are those who show no mercy and who take no prisoners.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the merciful.’ Happy are those who make allowances for the faults and sins of others, and whose greatness lies in their ability to forgive. They will receive mercy and forgiveness from God for their own sins.

The world says, ‘Happy are those with clean fingernails, sparkling eyes, gleaming teeth, and unblemished skin.’ But Jesus says, ‘blessed are those with clean hearts.’ It’s from the heart that all our thoughts, words, and actions flow. If the heart is clean, then everything that flows from it will be clean, as clean as water flowing from an unpolluted spring.

The world says, ‘Blessed are those who get even and exact revenge.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Graced are those who spread understanding among people, those who welcome strangers, and those who work for a more just and equal society. They are truly the children of God.

The world says, ‘Blessed are those who lie, cheat and steal, and get away with it.’ But Jesus says, ‘Blessed are those who make a stand for what is right and true.’ They may suffer for their stand, but the wounds they bear will be marks of honour and integrity.

Jesus practised what he preached. In his own person he was the beatitudes. Living them day after day made him the thoroughly good person he was. It’s the same for us too.

Today’s Feast of All Saints is less concerned with the official canonised saints than about all the good and holy people who have ever lived, among them some we ourselves have known, perhaps our own parents among them. None of us, I feel sure, is aspiring or expecting to be a canonised saint. We don’t fantasise that one day the pope will tell the world what saints we were. We don’t kid ourselves that our picture is going to pop up one day on the walls of churches. Not for a moment do we imagine anyone saying prayers to us or carrying around pieces of us as relics. We don’t foresee any statues of us being carried high in processions.

But in its document on the Church, the Second Vatican Council wrote a chapter called ‘The Universal Call to Holiness’. A few days ago, on October 10th, a remarkable 15-year-old Italian teenager, named Carlo Acutis, who died of leukaemia in 2006, was declared ‘Blessed’ in the basilica of St Francis, Assisi. Carlo once said that his life project was ‘Jesus’. Surely, his beatification and our Feast today are reminders of our deep-down longings to become better people than we are already, and even the best we can be! Surely too they remind us that Jesus Christ can and will empower us to live what we believe, to practise what he preached!

Surely, then, we won’t ever want to stop receiving him as our ‘Bread of Life’ in Holy Communion, as food for our journey with Jesus, both in life and in death!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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Volume II Archive

We keep up to six articles in this archive.  The latest is always listed first.

1 ADVENT (B) Christ the King 33rd SUNDAY 32nd SUNDAY ALL SAINTS 30th SUNDAY


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