Nov 2 – All Souls Day
Today we celebrate a feast in commemoration of the faithful departed in purgatory, that is, the faithful departed who have not yet been purified and reached Heaven. After Abbot Odilo of Cluny instituted it in the monasteries of his congregation in 998, other religious orders took up the observance, and it was adopted by various dioceses and gradually by the whole Church. The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy on this day and Pope Benedict XV granted to all priests the privilege of saying three Masses of requiem: one for the souls in purgatory, one for the intention of the Holy Father, one for the priest’s.
- Patron Saint Index
1 Jn 3:14-16
“Young man, I tell you to get up.”
There is a line in a rather famous movie about a retired boxer, when he confronts his angry son to clarify why he is coming out of retirement to fight one more time. You may know the line which goes, “It is not about how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you can get up.”
And so it is brothers and sisters, when we ourselves fall and succumb to sin, how many times can we pick ourselves up, rather than condemn ourselves and acknowledge the evil one’s hold over us? It is never easy to fight temptation, nor battle the ‘oh so comfortable’ choice of succumbing to pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, lust and covetousness.
So when Jesus commands the young man to get up, I look at it from the perspective of a sinner who is down and out, looking for some encouragement and a modicum of hope – that despite my sinfulness, I am still cherished and loved by God. And indeed, I have experienced this time and again, not necessarily during my Sacrament of Reconciliation (which reminds me, I need to make an appointment very soon) but also in the many times I have been blessed to share my gifts with others. For me, being able to praise and worship, to sing at masses and to kneel before him in prayer is a privilege I don’t take lightly. It is no coincidence that each time I face a daunting/stressful period, He deigns to send me a ‘wake up call’ by giving me a task (albeit through my ministry leaders).
I know how some others view ministry work as yet another burden to add to everyday stresses, but I have learnt to look at it (perhaps a bit too clinically) as an opportunity to serve and to express my gratitude to our heavenly Father. I have wondered whether this means that I have somehow found my purpose, something I have written about previously.
Brothers and sisters, we carry all manner of crosses in our daily life. I know a friend who seems to be overburdened tremendously by all sorts of ‘voluntary work’, giving herself ceaselessly to others. We look at her and marvel at her energy, willingness to give so much, yet expect nothing in return. In light of today’s readings, and as we celebrate the feast of All Souls, let us take a moment to reflect on our own sacrifices an ask ourselves if what we offer comes with a ‘price tag’. Or does what we do in our spare time for God truly help to purify the souls in purgatory and that each time we ourselves ‘get up’ from the pit of sin and shame, we are also purifying ourselves in the process.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Abba Father, you know our every thought, word and desire in our hearts before they are uttered. Help us to discern why we busy ourselves for you and to cleanse our hearts each time we say ‘Yes’ to you so that we can spread your Word to others without favour.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Heavenly Father, for lighting our paths on our faith journeys. Thank you for illuminating our intentions for those around us.