Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween - All Saints' Day

More than 2500 years ago, the Celts celebrated their new year, the end of the harvests, and the arrival of winter all on October 31. This festive ceremony, in honor of the deity Samain (god of death), allowed communication with the spirits of the dead. That day, the doors between the world of the living and the world of the dead were opened. According to legend, that night, the ghosts of the dead visited the living.

Halloween is, above all, a pretext to "party" and forget the long fall evenings, often rainy and gloomy. All Saints' Day is also a celebration, but much more meditative. The atmosphere surrounding each November 1 - and the commemoration of the dead the next day - contributes to giving All Saints' Day a particular character, one which touches the relationship of each individual to death while ensuring more of a social function of cohesion around the memory of the "dear departed."

This celebration is also an opportunity to remember that all people are called to holiness, by different paths though those paths may sometimes be surprising or unexpected.

Holiness is not reserved for the elite. It concerns all who choose to put their steps in those of Christ. The first merit of this All Saints' Day is to help us to fight against a rather subtle, but radical temptation which threatens the Christian life permanently. It is that of seeing in each saint, a life so extraordinary and marvelous that is is inaccessible. Jesus is the one who saves us, the one who transforms us, the one who wants us to become like Him.

All Saints' Day is a feast of communion with the saints and with a God of Love in emphasizing the hope of the resurrection and the joy of those who put the Beatitudes at the center of their lives. All Saints' Day focuses on Christ, the conqueror of death. It is a way to signify that we are all called to holiness and, thus, invited to put our steps in those of Christ.

Written by Sister Michelle Loisel, D.C.

Friday, October 18, 2019

St. Luke: A Man Compelled and Inspired

Today, October 18, we celebrate the feast day of St. Luke, evangelist and author of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke's two works comprise almost a quarter of the New Testament.

A physician from Antioch, Luke encountered Jesus' disciples while caring for the physical needs of the community. The Good News so astounded Luke that he became their frequent companion. St. Paul later referred to him as a "fellow worker." While the chosen twelve were of Jewish heritage, Luke was probably a Gentile, as indicated from his familiarity with the Greek language. Christians have insight into the first 30 years of the church because St. Luke was a faithful recorder of that critical time.

When I was a child, I always loved to hear about the early life of Jesus, especially about His birth. I didn't realize that what I was learning could only be found in Luke's Gospel. Since then, I have continued to be drawn to his Gospel. Some of the other passages found only in Luke have been essential to my personal and faith development, including the stories of The Good Samaritan, The Ten Lepers, The Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Persistent Widow. From these passages, I have learned about compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, and trust, all of which are so necessary if you intend to be a disciple of Jesus.

St. Luke gathered vital information for his works. This information came from written sources, from talking with the disciples, from eyewitnesses, and from his own experiences of the times. Saints Peter, Paul, and Philip were major sources for him. It is evident that St. Luke allowed the Holy Spirit to be his inspiration as he composed the texts that would one day be accepted into the canon of the Bible.

I doubt that St. Luke realized the impact that his written contributions would have on all of Christianity. Two thousand years later, I am grateful for this man of faith. I hope that I will allow the Holy Spirit to guide me so that I, too, may inspire others to discipleship. Is the Holy Spirit calling you to share your faith?

Written by Sister Susan Pugh, D.C.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

When I was asked to write this blog for October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I gasped. WOW! How will that happen? Didn't Jesus say, "The Poor you will have with you always?" The poverty I see in East St. Louis alone doesn't look as it it will end any time soon.

I have pondered this concept of no more poverty for days now. I have talked to many people who all gave me their thoughts. The following is where I've arrived.

The eradication of poverty is not going to be solved by fundraisers; it is not a money issue. Rather, it is a justice issue. An issue that is going to take work on the part of all of us. We read from the prophet Habbakuk, "Then the Lord answered me and said: 'Write down the vision clearly...for the vision still have its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.'"

And so, I set to writing at least part of my vision. My vision includes adequate housing for all people. especially those in East St. Louis with whom I work daily. My vision includes the children having enough food and a quality education. My vision includes mothers who can stop working that, whenever their sons leave the house, that it might be the last time they see them alive. My vision includes the people in Sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest of the poor, with all that they need to live a full life.

I think the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a very, very lofty goal. Habakkuk continues with the Lord's words, "If it delays, wait for it, for it will surely come. It will not be late." It is attainable.

We must remember, though, that while we wait, we work toward that end.

Written by Sister Margaret Mary Scally, D.C.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Feast of the Rosary

The rosary is a simple prayer with great power that has been prayed for years. According to the stories, St. Dominic received the rosary from the Virgin Mary in 1214. The Feast of the Rosary was brought about by St. Pius V in 1573.

The rosary has developed throughout the years. In the Middle Ages, the monastic monks prayed the 150 psalms. Many of the laity and some monks were unable to read and began a practice of praying 150 "Our Fathers" and 150 "Hail Marys." The rosary, in its present form, was developed in the 16th century. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries.

In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth, Edward Sri does a wonderful job explaining the rosary and sharing ways to make it a more meaningful prayer in our daily lives.

In chapter 7, Sri shares 10 of St. John Paul II's insights to encountering Jesus more in the rosary. These are:

  1. Announce each mystery and visualize it.
  2. Listen to the word of God. Look up the mystery in the Bible and read the passage slowly before starting that decade of the rosary.
  3. Silence. At least briefly at the beginning of each decade, use silence to recollect yourself and to help yourself listen to how God will speak to you while praying it.
  4. The Our Father: Praying in union with God's family. Never pray the rosary in isolation in a sense to honor God and our union with others.
  5. The Hail Marys: Contemplating Christ with His mother. "Contemplating the scenes of the rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning to "read" Christ, to discover His secrets, and to understand His message," (P. 45, RVM 14).
  6. Glory Be: The height of our contemplation. Praise to God in response to these events of salvation.
  7. A concluding prayer: Life application. It is popular practice to use the Fatima prayer at the end of each decade; however, Pope John Paul II opens an opportunity for other prayers. For example, at the end of the first joyful mystery, the Annunciation could be prayed: "Pray for us, Mary, that we may respond in obedient faith as you did."
  8. The beads as symbols.
    • The beads converging on the crucifix represent the beginning and the end of the prayers of the rosary. They can remind us of Christian life centered on Christ.
    • The chain of beads symbolize linking us to God and His servants.
    • The chain reminds us of our relationship with others. They are intertwined in the common bond of Christ. Often, we pray for special intentions.
  9. Opening and closing. The Apostles Creed, 1 Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Hail Holy Queen, Prayer for the Pope.
  10. Weekly rhythm of the mysteries. The Pope says that the rosary, with its mysteries, gives each day its spiritual color.
Is the rosary a part of your life? Do you ever get tired of praying the rosary? Does your mind sometimes wander when praying the rosary? If so, that is okay! We are just asked to be faithful. God will work through us to do wonderful things. If the rosary is not a part of your life, you're invited to learn more about the rosary and how it can enrich your life.

Written by Sister Mary Shea, D.C.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Synod on the Amazon

Please pray for the success of this synod, which will take place October 6-27.