October 30, 2017
This week we celebrate the Christian understanding of death, dying and the dead. It has little to do with the commercial nonsense of Halloween bats, witches, and ghosts.
On Wednesday we celebrate the great feast of All Saints. We remember all those faithful Christians who have gone before us and are now in the presence of God. We know only a tiny fraction by name – and we celebrate those in these pages week by week – but we know that there many, many others whose faithfulness to Christ has gained them access to heaven. And the wonderful thing is that they are praying for us to join them there.
On Thursday we celebrate the beautiful feast of All Souls. We remember those faithful Christians in Purgatory who are still waiting to enter Heaven, but whose salvation is assured. Many of them will be friends and relatives of ours who have gone before us. They are praying for us too, but we are also called to pray for them to be cleansed completely from their sins.
There is nothing ‘spooky’ about all this. The dead are not to be feared but to be loved. We are part of a great communion of believers that transcends time and space. It is a community that is based on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
October 23, 2017
There are very many hill top towns and villages dotted around the picturesque mountainous region of Italy known as the Abruzzo. Many were, sadly, devastated in the earthquake in 2009. One of them was the little town of Capestrano. The great shrine of the saint we celebrate next Monday is there.
St John of Capestrano was born there in 1386. As a young man he had a very promising career as a lawyer ahead of him. But it wasn’t sufficient and John eventually became a Franciscan friar. Doubtless using the oratorical skills he had picked up in this training for the law. John became a renowned preacher not just in his native Italy but across much of Europe. He died in1456 worn out by the preaching of the gospel.
Let us thank God for the men and women in every age who cast aside their own careers to put their talents at the service of the gospel and let us pray for lawyers, on this the feast of their patron saint.
October 16, 2017
Next Wednesday we celebrate the feast day of the evangelist, St. Luke. His gospel contains some of the best known, and certainly some of the best loved, of all the stories in the New Testament. It is Luke’s narrative that we think of at Christmas time, it is Luke’s narrative that we think of when we consider the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, it is Luke’s narrative that gives the text for the Magnificat and the basis of the Hail Mary.
Luke shows a Jesus who is compassionate and has a particular love for the poor and outcast. Luke also probes and proves the real humanity of Jesus – he weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus. Luke too insists of the vital and irreplaceable role that the women who surround Jesus play.
As Christian educators we should never neglect the power of story. Young children love and remember stories and older children can plumb their depths. Luke is the story teller par excellence. On his feast day let us thank him for giving us so much that we love in terms of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. And also let us ask for his prayers so that we can bring the faith to life as he did.