October 30, 2016 – A View from the Rectory Window

 

all-souls As this grace-filled Year of Mercy culminates, I ask you to embrace one of the beautiful spiritual works of mercy – to pray for the dead.  I invite you and your family to the Mass on the Feast of All Souls at 7pm on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at the Church of the Resurrection, Marmora.

In the book Saint John Vianney: The Village Priest Who Fought God’s Battles, the story is told of the death of Father Balley, a very holy priest who mentored Saint John Vianney. When only the two priests were left in the room, “the dying man gave his ‘dear son’ his parting counsels, and asked for his prayers.” Then Father Balley pulled out his instruments of penance—the discipline and hair shirt with which he had so often mortified his flesh—and gave them to Saint John Vianney with these words:

“Take these things, my poor child, and hide them. If these objects were found after my death, people would think I had sufficiently expiated my sins. And then they’d leave me in purgatory until the end of the world.”

This priest, of whom Saint John Vianney said he had never encountered a more beautiful soul, did not want     anyone thinking he was going straight to heaven.  If they had thought so, it surely would have comforted them, but it would not have assisted him in getting there.  What he desired was that those mourning his death would  perform a work of mercy for him:  He wanted them to pray for his soul.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Church, “from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her sacrifices and prayers for them.”  We are not called to simply trust that the dead are in heaven; we are called to give them our prayers so that they may   arrive there quickly.

Even though this mindset does not allow us the comforting thought of believing everyone who dies is already  enjoying heaven’s blessings, this work of mercy can be comforting in other ways.  Having the chance to pray for those who have died keeps their memory alive and assures us that we can, by our prayers, still help them.  It is for this reason, that as a parish family, we have prayed for your loved ones by name.

At this Mass, as we pray for and with one another, we will invite you to bring a picture of your loved one that can be placed on a table before the altar.  I ask you to contact our parish office at the Church of the Resurrection (609) 390-0664 to inform us if you or someone from your family will be attending this Mass, so that we might make the appropriate accommodations for you.

May the God of all hope and consolation be with you,

Fr. Pete