Blog - Catholic Action for Faith and Family

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In the Catholic tradition, November is the month of the Poor Souls in Purgatory. It begins with the Solemn Feast of All Saints (November 1) and the Commemoration of All Souls (November 2). However, the season to pray for the souls in purgatory is always.

It is helpful to reflect during this season of the Resurrection – the fifty days of Easter – on our duty to pray for those who are undergoing the purification required to ready them for heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1030) Although they live in the sure hope that they will see God in everlasting life, the souls in Purgatory count on our prayers. They are helpless to assist themselves.

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Our Lord Jesus Christ announces, “the Kingdom of God is at hand!”  What does this mean, and how do we respond? In a number of places, Jesus, (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15) and, in anticipation of Jesus, St John the Baptist, (Mt 3:2) calls us to repentance because of the arrival of the Kingdom. In the citation from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says that “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom is at hand, so repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  In Luke, the work of announcing the Kingdom is entrusted to the disciples. 

But what happened to get the Kingdom “started?”

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We are not angels.

As human beings we have a body, flesh and blood, and an immortal soul. Our bodies and souls are created in the first moment of our life, at conception. Our souls will live forever. Our bodies will decay at death, but ‘rise again’ at the Last Day.

Each of us - as a unity of body and soul - are unique and ‘one of a kind.’ As unrepeatable individuals, we do no reincarnate into some other person or being: this body ‘goes with’ this soul forever. And our souls are each unique and individual. We are not part of some great universal soul.

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Soon the Liturgical Season of Lent will begin, and it is time to think about the resolutions that will help us grow in holiness. The traditional triad of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving are a path of purification for participating more fully in the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection which will be our principal meditation in Holy Week.

300x165-FamilyRosary.jpgPrayer is for every season. Worthy participation in Holy Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic tradition. Perhaps we can find a Mass early in the morning before work, or during the lunch hour. Some parishes may add an evening Mass during Lent. Mass during the week can bring a greater appreciation to our experience of Sunday Mass. The Rosary or some other devotional prayer(s) such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Stations of the Cross can aid our meditation on Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection.

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When we face pain, distress, challenges, and disasters – our Catholic Faith makes it possible for us to keep a certain measure of tranquility. Jesus was very close to those who were suffering. In His Beatitudes, Jesus taught that those who were poor, sorrowing, or under persecution were among the “Blessed.” “They will see God,” He promised (Mt 5:8). “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:3).

300x198-World-Trade-Center-Cross.jpgIf we experience a warlike attack such as “9/11,” a loss through a natural disaster (a storm, or fire, or earthquake), or some personal tragedy (a sickness or accident), how do we maintain our trust in God?

When we read about the abuses and cover-ups that have become public among anointed leaders in the Church, or the omissions or deceptions of shepherds entrusted with the protection of the flock, how do we stay faithful to the Church, when some of Her leaders have failed?

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On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!
(Mt 16:18)

Jesus was traveling in the northern part of Palestine, at Caesarea Philippi , (Mt 16:13 ff) when He asks the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?"; then, "Who do you say that I am?”  Peter makes his extraordinary profession of faith. 

“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’   Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”  (Mt 16: 16-18)

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God’s call to us as human beings – our “vocation” - involves giving our self completely and forever in a lasting commitment.

Indeed the first great commandment of the Old Testament – repeated in the Gospel - is expressed in this way: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”  (Deut 6: 4-5; Mt 22: 37; Mk 12: 29-30) God wants everything from us, and love is fulfilled when we give everything.

Priests are ordained forever. Consecrated Religious make perpetual vows. Married couples also promise themselves to each other “until death.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the irrevocable bond, “… established by God Himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. “ (Catechism of the Catholic Church. no. 1640)

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We cannot – humanly speaking – make up for the wrong we have done. If I strike someone, they feel pain, perhaps rejection or aggression. These things are forever part of their experience. I can say, and mean it when I say, “I am sorry.” The physical reality doesn’t change.

The Seventh Commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2401), and the virtue of commutative justice requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner. (CCC. No. 2412) But can we ever completely restore and repair the loss inflicted by our selfishness? Is anything the same even when later we have had our belongings returned?

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On December 9, 1531, St. Juan Diego was hurrying to celebrate the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception (then celebrated on December 9), when he was met by the Blessed Mother of God on Tepeyac Hill. 

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Three more apparitions would lead to the dramatic December 12 revelation of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan’s ‘tilma’ or cloak – a convincing sign to the Bishop to build the church requested by Mary.

The Dogma of Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception would be formally proclaimed nearly 325 years later in 1854, by Blessed Pope Pius IX, in the Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus

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When traveling with family, decisions are sometimes more complicated. “Where should we go to eat?” “There are 5 DVDs; which one should we watch?”  “We are ready to go to Church; where are your shoes?” Even the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, had some human challenges. The Sacred Scriptures relates one of their family crises as they were on the way home from Jerusalem to Nazareth (Lk 2:41ff.)  Where is Jesus? I thought he was with the family. We must go back at once and find Him! While living closely with others has its challenges, that unity, unconditional acceptance and love, is a beautiful part of life.

There is a societal heresy that may be called “the cult of the Individual.” It proposes that the individual person is the ultimate arbiter or decider of reality. A corollary of this egocentric phenomenon finds its way into the sphere of the spiritual, declaring that my relationship with God does not require religion or Church. I can even establish my own set of beliefs, my own creed.

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