Dear Parishioners and Friends,
I have to admit that early November has become one of my favorite times of the year. “Really?” you ask. There was a time when I disliked this time of year because it reeked of dying leaves, bare trees, chilly rainy days, and overall bleakness. However, I’ve come to see those elements of nature as something hopeful and positive because I know that it’s not the end of the story. Yes, winter will come but so will spring, and the earth will be reborn once again.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also come to appreciate more the intimate connection we, the living, share with the deceased. As more of my family members and acquaintances have died, their absence has really become more of a presence as I think of them, remember them, and hope to be with them again some day. My memory of them has become a source of blessing and gratitude that they were once – and still are – part of my life.
Here, I’d like to mention the Franciscan Friars who ministered at St. Patrick-St. Anthony and are now deceased: Fr. John Murphy (2005), Fr. Jim Hynes (2008), Fr. Andrew Giardino (2016) and Fr. John Ullrich (2021). Each of them in their own unique way enriched the life of this parish with the humor and dedicated ministry. May they all know the fullness of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven!
Liturgically speaking, November is also a month in which almost every day is a celebration of a saint, or a commemoration of a particular occasion such as All Souls (Nov. 2), the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome (Nov. 9), Christ the King (Nov. 20), the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Nov. 21), Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24), and the beginning of the Season of Advent (Nov. 27).
In between the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1 and the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle on November 30, we celebrate many notable saints, including Martin de Porres (Nov. 3), Charles Borromeo (Nov. 4), Pope Leo the Great (Nov. 10), Martin of Tours (Nov. 11), Frances Xavier Cabrini (Nov. 13), Albert the Great (Nov. 15), Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order (Nov. 17), Catherine Labouré (Nov. 28), and All Saints of the Seraphic Order (Nov. 29). This last feast commemorates all the canonized saints of the Franciscan Family on the anniversary of the ratification of the Franciscan Rule of Life by Pope Honorius III in 1223.
As the liturgical year comes to a close at the end of November, it is appropriate that we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. In addition to giving thanks for all of our material blessings, we also give thanks for the countless host of holy men and women of all times who witnessed to their faith in Christ, whether in martyrdom or in the heroic virtue by which they lived. From the first to the twentieth centuries, they are people who gave all of us an example of self-sacrifice and loving service to others. For them, and with them, we give thanks for the mercy and grace of God.
I will leave you with these excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints? The communion of saints is the Church … It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself” (para. 957).
“In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, 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 suffrages for them. Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective” (para. 958).
As we pray for the dead in loving remembrance, and as we pray to the Saints to intercede for us before God, let us renew our hope that we will be united as one great family of faith in the resurrection of Christ!
Fr. Tim Shreenan, O.F.M.