This weekend, on Saturday, we celebrate All Saints Day. We remember those who came before us marked with the sign of faith. We remember in a special way Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII who were canonized saints earlier this year. As Catholics, we are invited to follow the example of our great saints. We can strive to model our behavior after them and follow their holy way of life. We are challenged to learn from them and to learn more about them.
One such saint who set a good example for us was Saint Jean Vianney. As a young man, living in the 19th century, he heard the call to the priesthood. He persisted and toiled through years of training and formation and eventually was ordained a Catholic priest. Later he was entrusted with a parish in the small town of Ars in France. Fr. Jean was not a scripture scholar; he was not a moral theologian; he was not a Canon lawyer. He was a humble and simple parish priest who truly wanted to serve God and serve those entrusted to his care. He realized that it was a great privilege and responsibility to be a Catholic priest. He was blessed with special skill and insight as a confessor and would spend long hours in the confessional. People would come to him from many surrounding regions to seek his spiritual counsel and guidance. Through his efforts, many were able to embrace their faith in a deeper and more personal way. His gentle manner, prayerful disposition, profound humility, and keen insight served as a model for other parish priests. Later, he would be elevated to sainthood, and be declared the patron saint of parish priests.
Immediately following All Saints Day, this Sunday we commemorate All Souls Day. It is a day to honor and pray for all souls. We especially pray for our deceased relatives, friends, neighbors, parishioners,co-workers, and all who shared their lives with us. In addition, on Thursday, November 6th at 7 p.m., we will celebrate a Mass of Remembrance. We will honor the memory of those loved ones who have died, including those who have died recently. We can especially remember those loved ones whose time on earth was brief. We can remember, for example, those who died in war to protect our freedoms, those who died in auto accidents, those who died in fires, and all those who died prematurely for some reason. A litany of names and an offering of roses with appropriate lighting of candles will mark this special occasion.
As Catholics, we strive to do our best to honor our dead and to bring spiritual peace and consolation to families who mourn for their loved ones. I want to thank all those who give of their time to participate in our bereavement and grief sharing ministries, and who do so much to assist families in their time of mourning and grief. They are truly a blessing to our Church.
As we go about our daily routines, please take the time to acknowledge our saints and our deceased loved ones in some special way this week.