The Path to Rome -Hillarie Belloc
Well, once there was a Learned Man who had a bargain with the Devil that he should warn the Devil's emissaries of all the good deeds done around him so that they could be upset, and he in turn was to have all those pleasant things of this life which the Devil's allies usually get, to wit a Comfortable Home, Self-Respect, good health, 'enough money for one's rank', and generally what is called 'a happy useful life'--till midnight of All-Hallowe'en in the last year of the nineteenth century.
So this Learned Man did all he was required, and daily would inform the messenger imps of the good being done or prepared in the neighbourhood, and they would upset it; so that the place he lived in from a nice country town became a great Centre of Industry, full of wealth and desirable family mansions and street property, and was called in hell 'Depot B' (Depot A you may guess at). But at last toward the 15th of October 1900, the Learned Man began to shake in his shoes and to dread the judgement; for, you see, he had not the comfortable ignorance of his kind, and was compelled to believe in the Devil willy-nilly, and, as I say, he shook in his shoes.
So he bethought him of a plan to cheat the Devil, and the day before All-Hallowe'en he cut a very small round hole in the floor of his study, just near the fireplace, right through down to the cellar. Then he got a number of things that do great harm (newspapers, legal documents, unpaid bills, and so forth) and made ready for action.
Next morning when the little imps came for orders as usual, after prayers, he took them down into the cellar, and pointing out the hole in the ceiling, he said to them:
'My friends, this little hole is a mystery. It communicates, I believe, with the chapel; but I cannot find the exit. All I know is, that some pious person or angel, or what not, desirous to do good, slips into it every day whatever he thinks may be a cause of evil in the neighbourhood, hoping thus to destroy it' (in proof of which statement he showed them a scattered heap of newspapers on the floor of the cellar beneath the hole). 'And the best thing you can do,' he added, 'is to stay here and take them away as far as they come down and put them back into circulation again. Tut! tut!' he added, picking up a moneylender's threatening letter to a widow, 'it is astonishing how these people interfere with the most sacred rights! Here is a letter actually stolen from the post! Pray see that it is delivered.'
So he left the little imps at work, and fed them from above with all manner of evil-doing things, which they as promptly drew into the cellar, and at intervals flew away with, to put them into circulation again.
That evening, at about half-past eleven, the Devil came to fetch the Learned Man, and found him seated at his fine great desk, writing. The Learned Man got up very affably to receive the Devil, and offered him a chair by the fire, just near the little round hole.
'Pray don't move,' said the Devil; 'I came early on purpose not to disturb you.'
'You are very good,' replied the Learned Man. 'The fact is, I have to finish my report on Lady Grope's Settlement among our Poor in the Bull Ring--it is making some progress. But their condition is heart-breaking, my dear sir; heart-breaking!'
AND THE LEARNED MAN
'I can well believe it,' said the Devil sadly and solemnly, leaning back in his chair, and pressing his hands together like a roof. 'The poor in our great towns, Sir Charles' (for the Learned Man had been made a Baronet), 'the condition, I say, of the--Don't I feel a draught?' he added abruptly. For the Devil can't bear draughts.
'Why,' said the Learned Man, as though ashamed, 'just near your chair thereis a little hole that I have done my best to fill up, but somehow it seemed impossible to fill it... I don't know...'
The Devil hates excuses, and is above all practical, so he just whipped the soul of a lawyer out of his side-pocket, tied a knot in it to stiffen it, and shoved it into the hole.
'There!' said the Devil contentedly; 'if you had taken a piece of rag, or what not, you might yourself... Hulloa!...' He looked down and saw the hole still gaping, and he felt a furious draught coming up again. He wondered a little, and then muttered: 'It's a pity I have on my best things. I never dare crease them, and I have nothing in my pockets to speak of, otherwise I might have brought something bigger.' He felt in his left-hand trouser pocket, and fished out a pedant, crumpled him carefully into a ball, and stuffed him hard into the hole, so that he suffered agonies. Then the Devil watched carefully. The soul of the pedant was at first tugged as if from below, then drawn slowly down, and finally shot off out of sight.
'This is a most extraordinary thing!' said the Devil.
'It is the draught. It is very strong between the joists,' ventured the Learned Man.
'Fiddle-sticks ends!' shouted the Devil. 'It is a trick! But I've never been caught yet, and I never will be.'
He clapped his hands, and a whole host of his followers poured in through the windows with mortgages, Acts of Parliament, legal decisions, declarations of war, charters to universities, patents for medicines, naturalization orders, shares in gold mines, specifications, prospectuses, water companies' reports, publishers' agreements, letters patent, freedoms of cities, and, in a word, all that the Devil controls in the way of hole-stopping rubbish; and the Devil, kneeling on the floor, stuffed them into the hole like a madman. But as fast as he stuffed, the little imps below (who had summoned a number of their kind to their aid also) pulled it through and carted it away. And the Devil, like one possessed, lashed the floor with his tail, and his eyes glared like coals of fire, and the sweat ran down his face, and he breathed hard, and pushed every imaginable thing he had into the hole so swiftly that at last his documents and parchments looked like streaks and flashes. But the loyal little imps, not to be beaten, drew them through into the cellar as fast as machinery, and whirled them to their assistants; and all the poor lost souls who had been pressed into the service were groaning that their one holiday in the year was being filched from them, when, just as the process was going on so fast that it roared like a printing-machine in full blast, the clock in the hall struck twelve.
APPARITION OF ST CHARLES BORROMEO
The Devil suddenly stopped and stood up. 'Out of my house,' said the Learned Man; 'out of my house! I've had enough of you, and I've no time for fiddle-faddle! It's past twelve, and I've won!'
The Devil, though still panting, smiled a diabolical smile, and pulling out his repeater (which he had taken as a perquisite from the body of a member of Parliament), said, 'I suppose you keep Greenwich time?'
'Certainly!' said Sir Charles.
'Well,' said the Devil, 'so much the worse for you to live in Suffolk. You're four minutes fast, so I'll trouble you to come along with me; and I warn you that any words you now say may be used against...'
At this point the Learned Man's patron saint, who thought things had gone far enough, materialized himself and coughed gently. They both looked round, and there was St Charles sitting in the easy chair.
'So far,' murmured the Saint to the Devil suavely, 'so far from being four minutes too early, you are exactly a year too late.' On saying this, the Saint smiled a genial, priestly smile, folded his hands, twiddled his thumbs slowly round and round, and gazed in a fatherly way at the Devil.
'What do you mean?' shouted the Devil.
'What I say,' said St Charles calmly; '1900 is not the last year of the nineteenth century; it is the first year of the twentieth.'
'Oh!' sneered the Devil, 'are you an anti-vaccinationist as well? Now, look here' (and he began counting on his fingers); 'supposing in the year 1 B.C. ...'
'I never argue,' said St Charles.
'Well, all I know is,' answered the Devil with some heat, 'that in this matter as in most others, thank the Lord, I have on my side all the historians and all the scientists, all the universities, all the...'
'And I,' interrupted St Charles, waving his hand like a gentleman (he is a Borromeo), 'I have the Pope!'
At this the Devil gave a great howl, and disappeared in a clap of thunder, and was never seen again till his recent appearance at Brighton.
So the Learned Man was saved; but hardly; for he had to spend five hundred years in Purgatory catechizing such heretics and pagans as got there, and instructing them in the true faith. And with the more muscular he passed a knotty time.
The end of this week brings us the great three days surrounding the Feast of All Saint's Day! Wednesday is the first of those days, called All Hallow's Eve, in the past known as a day of fast and abstinence. All Saint's Day follows on the first, bring a great day of feasting with all the Blessed in Heaven! November 3rd brings us to All Soul's Day where we remember those suffering the flames of Purgatory awaiting their release. It is in honor of this day that we are giving way November's gifts!
A few years ago now, we were given, as a gift, from those lovely people at Mother of Our Savior, the book titled Purgation Manual. My grandfather had passed away and they were so kind to send us this little book. It has been a great comfort over the years and a daily devotion in our family since. We would like to share this wonderful devotion with you! By entering below you have 4 ways to win one of the TEN copies that we are giving away! We pray that you will enjoy this book as much as we have. As always you may purchase your own copy over at Refuge of Sinner's Publishing
, they also just released a couple of other books on the Poor Souls along with many other great titles! Have a most blessed Hallow's Eve, All Saints and All Souls days!
"I saw a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before th throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God!"
A popular secular celebration is upon us, today's Keeping It Catholic Monday
is about the Catholic Holy Days coming up and the traditions of the Church in regarding what is called now a days Halloween. In edition to the wonderful words of Dom Gueranger is a wonderful blog post Hallowe'en- Pegan or Catholic Celebration
October 31st Vigil of All SaintsThe Liturgical Year Vol.14By: Dom Gueranger Imprimatur 1927
LET us prepare our souls for the graces heaven is about to shower upon the earth in return for its homage. To-morrow the Church will be so overflowing with joy, that she will seem to be already in possession of eternal happiness;but to-day she appears in the garb of penance, confessing that she is still an exile. Let us fast and pray with her; for are not we too pilgrims and strangers in this world, where all things are fleeting and hurry on to death? Year by year, as the great solemnity comes round, it has gathered from among our former companions new saints, who bless our tears and smile upon our songs of hope. Year by year the appointed time draws nearer, when we ourselves, seated at the heavenly banquet, shall receive the homage of those who succeed us, and hold out a helping hand to draw them after us to the home of everlasting happiness. Let us learn, from this very hour, to emancipate our souls; let us keep our hearts free, in the midst of the vain solicitudes and false pleasures of a strange land: the exile has no care but his banishment, no joy but that which gives him a foretaste of his fatherland.Feast of All Saints - November 1
TIME is no more; it is the human race eternally saved that is thus presented in vision to the prophet of Patmos. Our life of struggle and suffering on earth is, then, to have an end. Our long-lost race is to fill up the angelic ranks thinned by Satan's revolt; and, uniting in the gratitude of the redeemed of the Lamb, the faithful spirits will sing with us: 'Thanksgiving, honour, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever!' (Ibid. 12)
And this shall be the end, as the apostle says; (1 Cor. xv. 24) the end of death and suffering; the end of history and of its revolutions, which will then be explained. The old enemy, hurled down with his followers into the abyss, will live on only to witness his own eternal defeat. The Son of man, the Saviour of the world, will have delivered the kingdom of God His Father; and God, the last end of creation and of redemption, will be all in all. (I Cor. xv. 24-28)
Long before the seer of the Apocalypse, Isaias sang: 'I saw the Lord sitting upon the throne high and elevated, and His train filled the temple. And the Seraphim cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of His glory.' (IS. vi. 1-3) The train and fringes of God's vesture are the elect, who are the adornment of the World, the splendour of the Father. For, since the Word has espoused our human nature, that nature is His glory, as He is the glory of God. The bride herself is clothed with the justifications of the saints' and when this glittering robe is perfected, the signal will be give for the end of time. This feast announces the ever-growing nearness of the eternal nuptials; for on it we annually celebrate the progress of the bride's preparation.
Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb! (Apoc. xix. 9) Blessed are we all, who have received in Baptism the nuptial robe of holy charity, which entitles us to a seat at the heavenly banquet! LEt us prepare ourselves for the unspeakable destiny reserved for us by love. To this end are directed all the labours of this life: toils, struggles, sufferings for God's sake, all adorn with priceless jewels the garment of grace, the clothing of the elect. Blessed are they that mourn! (St. Matt. v. 5)
They that have gone before us wept as they turned the furrows and cast in the seed; but now their triumphant joy overflows upon us as an anticipated glory in this valley of tears. Without waiting for the dawn of eternity, the present solemnity gives u s to enter by hope into the land of light, whither our fathers have followed Jesus, the divine forerunner. Do not the thors of suffering lose their sharpness at the sight of the eternal joys into which they are to blossom? Does not the happiness of the dear departed cause a heavenly sweetness to mingle with our sorrow? Let us hearken to the chants of deliverance sung by those for whom we weep; 'little and great,' this is the feast of them all, as it will one day be ours. At this season, when cold and darkness prevail, Nature herself, stripping off her last adornments, seems to be preparing the world for the passage of the human race into the heavenly country. Let us, then, sing with the palmist: 'I have rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Our feet as yet stand only in thy outer courts; but we see thy building ever going on, O Jerusalem, city of peace, compacted together in concord and love. To thee do the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, praising the name of the Lord; thy vacant seats are being filled up. May all good things be for them that love thee, O Jerusalem; may peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers. For the sake of my brethren and of my neighbours, who are already thy inhabitants, I take pleasure in thee; because of the Lord our God, whose dwelling thou art, I have placed in thee all my desire." (Ps. cxxi)
Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family
By: Maria Von Trapp from 1955
With every passing year I realize more deeply how joyful our religion is. The more one penetrates into what it means to be Catholic, the fuller life becomes.
There is one great art that we are taught from our childhood and for which we cannot be grateful enough, and that is how to celebrate feasts. The little ones grow up hearing again and again: "Today is the feast of St. Joseph" "Next week is the feast of the Annunciation.. the feast of St. John... the feast of the Holy Family... the feast of the Assumption." And these are not words only. Soon the children discover that these days have a truly festive character. Later, when they grow up and learn to use their own missals, they find that Holy Mother Church prepares a feast for us almost every day of the year. Naturally, these feast days are not equally important. Two of them, the anniversaries of Our Lord's Resurrection and of the Descent of the Holy Ghost, are of such magnitude and solemnity that the Church assigns a whole week to them. She wants to teach her children to take time for celebrating. What a necessary lesson for us of the fast-living twentieth century, when time has become money and the most important even in people's lives - their wedding - has been reduced from the ten-day celebration of old to a ten minute formality at the Justice of the Peace!
For Easter and Pentecost the Church permits no other feasts to interfere. This is called "a privileged octave of the first order." There are other great feast days, such as Epiphany and Corpus Christi, Christmas, the Ascension, the fast of the Sacred Heart, and the feasts of the Blessed Mother, which also have an octave, and at last a commemoration of that feast is made each day.
If the first place is given to the feasts of Our Lord, the second is given to those of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then come the holy angels, and they are followed by the saints who had a share in the plan of the Incarnation, as St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, Peter and Paul and the other Apostles, whose feasts are always celebrated with special solemnity.
Then we are told to celebrate as a feast of dedication of churches, the anniversaries of the martyrdom of the saints, the commemoration of holy popes, bishops, teachers of the Church, confessors, virgins and all holy women. According to their importance these feasts will be more or less solemnly celebrated; but even a simple feast day is a feast day.
Once in a while there is a day in the calendar when we do not celebrate a feast. This is called a "ferial day." During most seasons these are few and far between, and it is all the more striking, therefore, to come to the six weeks of Lent and find that the Church has prepared a special mass for every ferial day and wishes her children to refrain from celebrating feasts during these weeks of penance. That makes the great Alleluia, which introduces the feast of the Resurrection, all the more jubilant.
Living through this cycle of festive evens every year, one cannot help but learn that one should not just live one's life, or spend one's life, or go through one's life, but celebrate one's life. Whether the days are filled with bliss or mourning, we have learned to live almost each one as a special feast day. As the Introit of many a Mass bids us: "Guadeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes." ("Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating this festival day.")
If the time from the First Sunday in Advent until Pentecost seems like one long uninterrupted celebration of the greatest mysteries of our faith, the time from Pentecost to the end of the Church Year appears much more sober.
The second half of the Church year is referred to in Austria as "The Green Meadow," because of the green color of the vestments on the Sundays after Pentecost, whereas, until then, they had been violet, red, or white. If the festive character of the first part of the year is comparable to the mountain chains of the Alps or Andes, the single feasts in the months after Pentecost are like isolated peaks towering above the green meadow.
Feasts of the Green Meadow
Two more weeks until the 2011-2012 Holy Simplicity Planner
starts! Get your copy now in time to get the most use out of your home*school*Liturgical Year planner! Plan next years lessons, yearly goals, daily task sheet and more!
We start out our All Saint's day with our Mass prayers and reading the lives of our patron saints. Later in the day we have an All Saints Day party with all of the family that could make it. As part of our religion in the month of October the children pick a saint to imitate, research their life and write a short biography that they then present on All Saints Day to the family that is present. Our telling of the saints stories are a little different as we don't tell who we are: they give their information in the first person and at the end of their story ask; "Who Am I?" And everyone tries to guess what Saint they are. After the festivities the kids all play games. A fun time is had by all!
We started our morning off with the doughnut version of Soul Cakes for breakfast, then mass prayers and readings on All Saints Day. Followed by a visit from family, some games and a visit with friends on Skype. The kids are enjoying there day, what does your All Saints' Day celebration look like? Please share a link to your celebrations and costumes below. (Please also only share traditional saints, others will be removed if posted.)
God bless and may your Feast of All Saints' be a joyous celebration!
Visit the previous posts on All Hallow's Eve, All Saint's Day and All Souls Day Here
Feast of All Saints
Sermons of the Cure d'Ars
"I beseech thee, my son, look upon heave." - II. Mach. vii 28.
To-day, my dear Christians, is a day on which, more than on any other, the faithful look up to heaven and reflect, how supremely happy the saints who enjoy the bliss of heaven at the throne of Go; a day on which, by meditating on the never-ending happiness of the saints, an ardent longing is stirred in our hearts that we may one day take part in this happiness. But to reach this happiness we must not be satisfied with meditation alone. We must consider the way of living of the saints upon earth, and ask the question, How did they obtain their blissful state in heaven? We will consider in turn -
I. The state of the saints on earth and
II. The state of the saints in heaven.
May the Lord bless our meditation.
I. The state of the saints on earth, my dear Christians, was neither pleasant, nor easy, not sweet, as the children of this world desire it or try to make it. No. Theirs was a lot both hard and difficult! They trod the paths which their Saviour himself had pointed out to them in the words: "So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be my disciple" (Luke xvi 33). They followed the path on which Jesus Christ had promised them crosses and tribulations with these words: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. xvi. 24). They followed the path which Jesus calls a "narrow" waythat leadeth to life" (Matt. vii. 14). They followed in the service of God
at threefold hard path - namely, the path of renunciation. They renounced all worldly treasures and goods; they often gave all that they possessed to the poor, and then they themselves led a life of poverty. They wanted to be the disciples of Jesus, who in this world "had nowhere to lay his head" (Matt. viii. 20). They renounced all honors, all the dignities of man. Many of them came of princely and royal families renounced their title to the princely or royal throne which would have given them in the eyes of the world the highest honors, and they lived, unnoticed by the world, a life of greatest humility and retirement, bearing in mind the words of Jesus: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke xviii. 14). They renounced all the pleasures and delights of the world, for they knew that they draw the heart from God and defile the soul with sin, and they sought only their joy in God by leading a holy life in His service, through which they said in the words of the prophet Isaias: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God" Isaias lxi. 10). And by all this renunciation they felt in their souls the highest possible happiness; in them was the world of the Psalmist fulfilled: "Blessed is the man who hath not had regard to vanities" (Ps. xxxix. 5.).
Dear Christians! We all have to-day the desire - yes, even the ardent longing - to enjoy one day with the saints in heaven their glory and their happiness. But let us
consider well that the Christian whose thoughts and actions are only directed toward transitory treasures, honors, and pleasures is not on the path where the joys of heaven are found. Christians must not desire what is earthly but what is heavenly; not what is false, but what is true; not what is temporary and fleeting, but what is eternal and never-ending. Therefore our hearts must not be set upon the treasures, honors, and pleasures of this world, so that we may not miss the end for which we were created -heaven. "For what doth is profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Matt. xvi. 26.). Our Saviour calls to us Christians and exhorts us to strive after the happiness of heaven with these words: "Seek first the kingdom of God" (Matt. vi. 33). "The fool," says St. Ambrose, "holds with them who are of the world; the wise man prefers the eternal glory of heaven" (Serm. 37).
The saints of heaven, I will say further, chose to reachheaven by the way of mortification. The saints got to heaven by their virtues. Virtue and sin cannot dwell together in the soul. So that virtue might grow and strengthen, the saints uprooted the wicked propensity to sin in their flesh by practicing mortification. They considered it the object of their lives daily to mortify the desires of the flesh through the spirit, to overcome them, to struggle against them, and to uproot them entirely. "That was," as one of the saints said, "their work and their struggle." For that reason they fasted strictly; only tasted the poorest kind of food so as to give to their bodies only strength absolutely necessary, St. Makarius, to mortify himself, for seven long years only ate raw herbs and vegetables moistened in water. We know that many of the holy hermits lived on herbs and roots. Besides this strict fasting, they practiced mortification by chastising and scourging their bodies. They wore hair shirts and coarse garments of penance next to the skin, scourged their bodies with heavy cords and whipped themselves till the blood came. At night they did not lie on a soft bed, but most often on the hard ground, and only for a few hours to rest from their labors. We read in the life of St. Casimir, a Polish prince, that he wore a hair shirt in the midst of the gay pleasures and frivolities of the court; of Louis, King of France, that he never left off his hair shirt; of the pious Philip II. of Spain, that on his dying bed he gave his own son Philip a scourge covered with blood, with these words: "Keep this scourge which has so often been stained with my blood."
You see, dear Christians, this is how the saints mortified themselves. They crucified their bodies inclined to sin, rooted out the cause of sin, so as to overcome all the temptations of the wicked one. What would some of the delicate children of the world say to this, those who never do the least harm to their worldliness, nor fast, nor deny their bodies anything, and therefore in time of temptation they are exposed to sin? Do they not think that what the saints did was a great deal too hard? That they did unnecessary things which God did not require of them? If God does not require such a harsh life of penance, still our Saviour's words are there when He says: "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away" (Matt. xi. 12).
Lastly, the saints in heaven chose, so as to reach heaven, the way of the cross and suffering. They understood those words of Jesus: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. xvi. 24). For this reason they endured patiently the dungeon and fetters, the agonies of the stake and the scaffold; allowed themselves to be torn asunder by wild beasts and, like their Lord and Master, be bound to the cross, remembering the worlds of St. Paul: "If we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him" (Rom, viii. 17). That
is why they bore all sufferings, not only with the greatest patience, but also gladly with joy. As St. Paul said of himself: "I am filled with comfort; I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation" (II. Cor. vii. 4). So could these saints say. "Never in my life," cried out St. Dorothy, in the midst of her martyrdom, "have I experienced such joy." and St. Andrew saluted the cross on which he was nailed with these words: "O, thou cherished and ardently longed-for cross! Thou bringest me happiness; therefore I approach thee with joy!" The saints, besides bearing with the greatest joy every pain which God sent them, even prayed to God when they were free from suffering that HE would not send them pleasures, but sufferings. St. Teresa's lifelong desire was "to suffer or to die." St.Francis Xaiver had such a great desire to suffer for Christ that once, when he was filled with consolation and happiness, he cried out, "It is enough, O Lord, it is enough!" while, on the other hand, when tribulation and suffering beset him, he cried: "Still more, O Lord, still more!" He was often heard to say these words: "O Lord, take not this cross away from me, or if so, then give me in its place a heavier one."
My dear Christians, are we not astonished at what the saints have suffered, at the patience which they exhibited in all this suffering, at the longing which they showed for crosses and sufferings? And we complain when we have to suffer a little! We bear with impatience the slightest adversity sent to us from God. Let us remember that "through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God," and let us bear the little suffering which God sends us with patience and submission, so that we may by this, like the saints, obtain the everlasting joys of heaven.
So as to encourage us, let us consider what rewards the saints have obtained in heaven for their hard and difficult lot while on this earth.
My dear Christians, the saints of God have undertaken and borne great things while on earth, and great things will God give them for all eternity, namely, heaven. They renounced everything in this world; they can, therefore, according to God's own promises, expect great things in the other world. They mortified themselves on earth, and therefore they can enjoy themselves for all eternity. And what are the joys which they have received from the Giver of all good gifts? I answer:
(a) Joy without pain. Whenever man has any happiness the pain is not far off. If we enjoy a day of festivity, it is soon followed by a day of suffering. If we enjoy good health it is soon followed by indisposition or probably sickness. Here below our happiness is never perfect; it never lasts long; it is never enduring/ But what is the joy of the saints in heaven? Inchangeable and undisturbed. "Joy and gladness," says the Holy Ghost through the prophet Isaias (li. II). "they shall obtain; sorrow and mourning shall flee away." "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes," so we read in the Apocalypse of St. John (xxi. 4): "and death shall be no more; nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more." Oh, true life! Oh, eternal life! Oh, life of never-ending happiness! There is joy without pain; rest without work, abundance without want, life without death, happiness without suffering. St.
Augustine says: "It is easier to say what is not in heaven than what is in heaven." There is found no death, no mourning, no weariness, no weakness, no hunger, n thirst, no heat, no sickness, no infirmity, no sadness, no melancholy. Now these things are not
there. Do you wish to know what is
there? There is an everlasting home where youth never grows old, where love never grows cold, where beauty never fades, where pleasure never ceases. For this reason the angels are portrayed as beautiful, youthful figures, although they have been creatures created for over six thousand years; there nothing decays; nothing loses its strength and beauty.
(b) These joys without suffering are then unspeakable, great joys. "Oh, how great," says the Paslmist David, "is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou has hidden from them that fear Thee!" (Ps. xxx. 20). And he himself gives this answer: and Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure. For with Thee is the fountain of life; and in Thy light we shall see light" (Ps. xxxv. 9). "For better is one day in Thy courts above thousands" (Ps. lxxxiii. II). And what reward our blessed Lord has Himself promised His servants in heaven with these words: "Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven" (Matt. v. 12). And what was the joy of St. Paul when he was deemed worthy to look into the third heaven! He is not able to describe it, therefore he falters the words: "The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him" (I. Cor. ii. 9).
The holy fathers of the Church have often taken pains to try to express the sweetness and pleasantness of heavenly joys; but they were not able, as the great thinker St. Augustine himself says, to describe these things as they really are, only in a certain way to feel them. "So great," saysSt. Augustine, comparingly, "is the glory of heavenly bliss that man, if he had only spent a single day there, would give
years of bliss and pleasures of this life for it."
"The reward of the saints in heaven," writes ST. Bernard, "is so great that man cannot measure it, so rich that man cannot give it utterance, and so precious that man cannot price it." And, therefore, to give us an idea of the joys of heaven, he breaks out in these words: "O joy above all joys! Joy that over reachest every joy, and out of thee there is no joy!" "O gaudium super gaudium! gaudium vincens
omne guadium, extra quod non est gaudium!
"Place," writes a great theologian, "all the many great
happinesses which the world has together: the happiness to posses all earthly
treasures, the happiness of all power and honors, all the joys and pleasures of
a worldly life; multiply these happinesses a hundred, a thousand, a million
times, multiply them as much as and as often as you can, and they are not to be
compared with the never-ending joys of heaven. Compare, as in Holy Scripture,
the joys of heaven to a magnificent feast, a brilliant, joyous feast, and you
are still immeasureably short of the truth. As here below, trouble and
suffering, so there above the elect enjoy bliss and joy on all sides; and joy in
Jesus, their Saviour and their King, whose divine gracious countenance they love
to look upon; bliss and joy in Mary, their Mother and their Queen, whose
unutterable beauty delights them; bliss and joy at the exalted thorns which they
themselves occupy and at the glorious crown which adorns their heads; bliss and
joy at the hymns of praise us, by the choirs of heaven; bliss and joy at the
sight of the glory of their triumphant breathern." Truly, the prophet is right
when he says: "With the stream of Thy glory, O Lord, wilt Thou drown
(c) Lastly, the joys of heaven are everlasting. The soul
of man is immortal, and everlasting and eternal is the reward for the souls of
the just. From the kingdom of God the Son in heaven the angel said to Mary: "And
of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i. 33). Our Divine Saviour says
Himself of the reward of the just: "But the just into life everlasting" (Matt.
xxv. 46). When Christ spoke to His disciples of His return to the Father, He
said also to console them: "So also you now indeed have sorrow, but I will see
you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from
you" (John xvi. 22). That is to say, it shall last forever. And lastly,
writes: "For our present tribulation, which is momentary and light, wortketh for
us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory" (II. Cor. iv.
The eternal joy of heaven! What a glorious reward for the
saints for their short renunciation of earthly things, for a short struggle
with sin, for a short suffering borne with patience! "A short time," says
"does work in this world last; eternal is the rest in heaven: short is the
pain; eternal is the glory: short is the suffering; without end the joy" (in
Ps. 26). Source of Life, when shall I enter into Thy joys, from which no more
will be kept away? Oh true, sweet, and peasant life! O most sure rest, the most
restful happiness." And how long have the saints enjoyed this heavenly
happiness? For many decades, many hundreds of years. And how much of eternity
has passed for them already? Not a moment. And how much longer will they enjoy
the happiness in heaven? Centuries? No, forever! Or thousands of years? No,
forever! Or millions of years? No, forever! Or for as many years as there are
grains of sand on the earth or drops of water in the ocean? No, much longer,
much longer - forever! Oh, you saints in heaven, how inexpressibly happy are
Now, my dear Christians, what are we going to do after the contemplation of the happiness of the saints in heaven? We all wish to cry out with ST. Aloysius: "We want to go to heaven! We want to go to heaven!" And so that we may reach heaven we must place all our though there, and not on this transitory world. As St. Symphorianus was led to the place of martyrdom, his pious mother, who followed him, to give him encouragement to bear his triumphs steadfastly, repeated these words over and over again: "My child, my child, think of everlasting life!" Dear
Christians, when it seems hard for you to renounce the world, to fight against
sin, to return to God after sinning, to lead a Christian life and steadfastly
walk in the paths of virtue; when trials frighten you, which no one is without;
then think of the eternal reward which awaits you in heaven. Consider that for
a little trouble you will receive a great reward, for an easy victory a good,
and for a momentary trouble an everlasting reward. Undertake, therefore, this
light this little, this short trouble which the way of virtue requires, and you
will receive in reutrn a good, a great, and an everlasting reward in heaven.
The previous post continued from Holy Days by Fr. Fancis Weiser Impr. 1956
Numerous ancient customs associated with All Saints and All Souls havecome down through the centuries and are still observed in many countries. Some are of strictly religious nature, such as the custom of decorating the graves and praying in the cemeteries. This practice is general in all Cathoic countries both in Europe and America. In the afternoon of All Saints' Day or in the morning of All Souls the faithful visit each individual grave of relatives and friends. Sometimes the congregation, led by the priest, walks in procession to the cemetery. There they pray for all the holy souls in front of the cemetery chapel, then the priest recites the liturgical prayers for the dead and blesses the graves with holy water. Afterward the families separate to offer private prayers at the graves of their loved ones.
During the week preceding All Saints crowds of people may be seen in the cemeteries, usually in the evening after work, decorating the graves of their dear ones with flowers, tending the lawn, and spreading fresh white gravel around the tombs. Candles, protected by little glass lanterns, are placed around the graves or at the foot of the tombstones, to be lighted on All Saints' eve and left burning through the night. It is an impressive, unforgettable sight to look upon the hundreds and often thousands of lights quietly burning in the darkness and dreary solitude of a cemetery. People all them "lights of the holy souls" (Seelenlichter).
To visit the graves of dear ones on All Souls is considered a duty of such important that many people in Europe will travel from a great distance to their home towns on All Saints' Day in order to perform this obligation of love and piety.
It is an ancient custom in Catholic sections of c entral Europe to ring the church bells at the approach of dusk on All Saints' Day, to remind the people to pray for the souls in purgatory. When the pealing of these bells is heard, the families gather in one room of their home extinguish all other lights save the blessed candle (kept from Candlemas Day) which is put on the table. Kneeling around it, they say the rosary for the holy souls. On this occasion, as on all others throughout the year, the boys and men lead the prayer by reciting the first part of the "Hail Mary" while the women respond with the second part:
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
In the rural sections of Brittany four men alternate in tolling the church bell for an hour on All Saints' Day after dark. Four other men go from farm to farm during the night, ringing hand bells and chanting in each place: "Christinas awake, pray to God for the souls of the dead, and say the Pater and Ave for them." From the house comes the reply "Amen" as the people rise for prayer.
In most countries of South America All Souls' Day is a public holiday. In Brazil people flock by the thousands to the cemeteries all morning, light candles and kneel at the graves in prayer. The deep silence of so many person in the crowded cemetery deeply impresses the stranger. In Puerto Rico, people will walk for miles to the graves of their loved ones. The women often carry vases of flowers and water, for they know they can get no water at the cemetery to keep the flowers fresh. They wear their best clothes as they trudge along in the hot sun. Whole truckloads of people will arrive at the cemetery if the distance is too far to walk. The preist visits each grave and says the prayers for the dead as the mourners walk along with him. Sometimes the ceremony lasts for hours and it is near midnight when the tired pastor visits the last graves.
Among the native population in the Philippines, a novena is held for the holy souls before November 2. In places where the the cemetery is close to the town, candles are brought to be burned at the tombs and prayers are said every night. During these nine days the people also prepare their family tombs for the great "Feast of Souls." Tomb niches and croses are repainted, hedges trimmed, flowers planted, and all weeds are removed from the graves on the evening of All Saint's Day young men go from door to door asking for gifts in the form of cookies, candy, pastry, and sing a traditional verse in which they represent holy souls liberated from purgatory and on their way to Heaven:
Kung kami po'y lilmusan
Dali dali ninyong bigyan
Baka kami'y masarhan
Sa pinto ng kalaginan.
If you will give us friendly alms,
Please do not make us wait;
We want to enter Heaven's door
Before it is too late.
In Poland, and in Polish churches of the United States, the faithful bring to their parish priest on All Souls' Day paper sheets with black borders called Wypominki (Naming) on which are written the names of their beloved dead. During the evening deovtions in November, and on Sundays, the names are read from the pulpit and prayers are offered for the repose of the souls.
Our pagan forefathers kept several :cult of the dead" rites at various times of the year. One of these periods was the great celebration at the end of fall and the beginning of winter (around November 1). Together with the practices of nature and demon lore (fires, masquerades, fertility cults, ect.) they also observed the ritual of the dead with many traditional rites. Since All Saints and All Souls happened to be placed within the period of such an ancient festival, some of the pre-Christian traditions became part of our Christian feast and associated with Christian ideas.
There is, for instance, the pre-Chrsitan practice of putting foodat the graves or in the homes at such times of the year when the spirits of the dead were believed to roam their familiar earthly places. The beginning of November was one of these times. By offering a meal or some token food to the spirits, people hoped to pelase them and to avert any possible harm they could do. Hence came the custom of baking special breads in honr of the holy souls and bestowing them on the children and the poor. This custom is widespread in Europe. "All Souls' bread" (Seelenbrot) is made and distributed in Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, Spain, Ital, hungary, and the Slavic countries.
In some sections of centeral Europe boys receive on All Souls' Day a cake samed in the form of a hare, and girls are given one in the same of a hen (an interesting combination of 'spirt bread' and fertility symbols). These figure cakes are backed of the same dough as the festive cakes which the people eat on All Saints' Day and which are a favorite dish all over centeral Europe. They are made of braided stands of sweet dough and called "All Saints' cakes" (Heiligenstriezel in German, Strucel Swiateczne in Polish, Mindszenti Kalacska in Hungarian). Here is the recipe:
8 cups flour 1 tsp. grated orange rind
2 cups milk 1 tsp. graded lemon rind
4 yeast cakes 1/2 cup soft butter
8 egg yolks 1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
Dissolve yeast cakes in 1/2 cup of the milk. Make thin sponge by mixing yeast with rest of milk and 1 cup of flour. Mix throughly, sprinkle top lightly with flour and set aside to rise. Add salt to egg yolks, beat until thick and lemon-colored. Add sugar, rinds, and mix with sponge, Add two cups of flour, alternating with the milk, and knewad for half-hour.
Add remaining flour and butter and continue to knead until the dough comes away from the hand. Set in warm place to rise until double in bulk. Separate dough into four parts, roll into long strips and braid into a loaf. Brush top with lightly beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seed. Let rise. Bake at 350 degrees oven for one hour.
In western Europe people prepare on All Souls' Day a meal of cooked beans or lentils, called "soul food," which they afterward serve to the poor together with meat and other dishes. In Poland the farms hold a solemn meal on the evening of All Souls' Day, with empty seats and paltes ready for the 'souls' of departed relatives. Onto the plates members of family put parts of the dinner. These portions are not touched by anyone but afterward are given to beggars or poor neighbors. In the Alpine provinces of Austria destitute children and beggars go from house to house, reciting a prayer or singing a hymn for the holy souls, receiving small loaves of the 'soul bread' in reward. There, too, people put aside a part of everythign that is cooked on All Souls' Day and give meals to the poor. In northern Spain and in Madrid people distribute and eat a special pastry called "Bones of the Holy" (Huesos de Santo). In Catalonia All Souls' pastry is called Panellets (little breads).
In Hungary the "Day of the Dead" (Halottalk Napia) is kept with the traditional customs common to all people in entral Europe. In addition, they invite orphan children into the family for All Saints' and All Souls' days, serving them generous meals and giving them new clothes and toys. Another endearing practice is the special care people in Hungary bestow on "forgotten" graves which otherwise would stay neglected and unadorned. Taking turns from year to year, the families of a village assume the care of tehse graves in addition to their own, decorating them, lighting candles, and praying for the souls of those who are burried in them.
In Brittany the farms visit the graves of their departed relatives on Jour des morts (Day of the Dead), kneeling bareheaded at the mound in long and gervent prayer. Then they spinkle the grave with holy water, and finally, before leaving, our milk over the grave as a libation "for the holy souls." In every house a generous portion of the dinner is served before an empty seat and afterward given to the hungry.
Many other customs of the ancient cult of the dead have survied as supersitions to this day. The belief that the spirts of the dead return for All Souls' Day is expressed in a great number of legends and traditions. In the rural sections of Poland the charming story is told that at midnight on All Souls' Day a great light may be seen in the parish church; the holy souls of all departed parishioners who are still in purgatory gather there to pray for their release before the ver altar where they use to receive the Blessed Sacrament when still alive. Afterward the souls are said to visit the scenes of their earthly life and labors, especially their homes. To welcome them by an external sign the people leave doors and windows open on All Souls' Day. In the rural sections of Austria the sholy souls are said to wander though the forests on All Souls' Day, sighing and praying for their release, but unable to reach the living by external means which would indicated their presence. For this reason, the children are told to pray aloud while going through the open spaces to church and cemetery, so the poor souls will have the great sonsolation of seeing that their invisable presence is known and their pitiful cries for help are understood and answered.
This month has been dedicated to the upcoming Holy Day, All Saint's Day. Find our previous posts here for the history & traditions of this wonderful Holy Day of Obligation and the vigil before it as well as the Feast of All Soul's Day after it:History of All Hallow's Eve and All Saint's Day (Keeping the Catholic Holy Day)
All Hallow's Eve Story to Read/Share By: Hillare BellocAll Saint's Day 2009- St. Patrick & St. GeorgeDon Bosco's Reference to All Soul's Day
All Saint's All Souls Day Von Trapp Style Part IIVarious All Saints & All Souls Day Traditions
This week we add to our list from The Holy Days Book by Fr. Francis Weiser Impr. 1956All Saints and All Souls
The Church of Anticok kept a commeoration of all holy martyrs on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Saint John Chrysostom, who served as preacher at Anticoh before he became Patriarch of Constantinople, delivered annual sermons on the ocacsion of this festival. They were entitled "Praise of All the Holy Martyrs of the Entire World." In the course of the succeeding centuries the feast spread through the whole Eastern Church and, by the seventh century, was everywhere kept as public holyday.
In the West the Feast of "All Holy Martyrs" was introduced when Pope Boniface IV (615) was given the ancient Roman temple of the Pantheon by Emperor Phocas (610) and dedicated it as a church to the Blessed Virgin MAry and all the martyrs. The date of this dedication was May 13,and on this date the feast was then annually held in rome. Two hundred years later Pope Gregory IV (844) transferred the celebration to November 1. The reason for this transfer is quite interesting, especially since some scholars have claimed that the Church assigned All SAints to November 1 in order to substitue a feast of Christan significance for the pagan Germanic celebrations of the demon cult at the time of the year. Actually, the reason for the transfer was that the many pilgrims who came to Rome for the "Feast of the Pantheon" could be fed more easily after the harvest than in the spring.
Meanwhile, the practice had spread of including in this memorial not only all martyrs but the other saints as well. Pope Gregory III (741) had already stated this when he dedicated a chapel in Saint Peter's in honor of Christ, Mary, and "all the apostles, martyrs, confessors, and all the just and perfect servants of God whose bodies rest throughout the whole world."
Upon the request of Pope Gregory IV, Emperor Louis the Pious (840) introduced the Feast of All SAints in his territories. With the consent of the bishops of Germany and France he ordered it to be kept on November 1 in the whole empire. Finally, Pope Sixtus IV (1484) established it as a holyday of obligation for the entire Latin Church, giving it a liturgical vigil and octave.
The purpose of the feast is twofold. As the prayer of the Mass states, "the merits of all the saints are verated in common by this one celebration," because a very large number of martyrs and other saints could not be accorded the honor of a special festival since the days of the year would not suffice for all these indivdual celebrations. The second purpose was given by Pope Urban IV: Any negligence, omission, and irreverence commited in the celebration of the saints' feasts thoughout the year is to be atoned for by the faithful and thus due honr may still be offered to these saints.Liturgical Prayer:
Almighty and eternal God, who hast granted us to venerate the merits of all Thy saints in one celebration: we beg Thee to bestow upon all the desired abundance of Thy mercy on account of this great number of intercessors.
The Pantheon, Rome
Pope Sylvester II
The need and duty of prayer for the departed souls has been acknowledged by the Church at all times. It is recommended in the Scriptures of the Old Testament (2 Macch. 12,46), and found expression not only in public and private prayers but especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrafice for the repose of souls. The customary dates for public services of this kind were, and stil lare, the day of death and burial, the seventh and thirtieth day after death (Month's Mind Mass), and the anniversary exceprt for the funeral Mass, the actual observance of these dates is not made obligatory by the Church but left to the piety of the realtives and friends of the deceased.
The memorial feast of all departed ones in a common celebration was inaugurated by Abbot Saint Odilo of Cluny (1048). He issued a decree that all monasteries of the congregation of Cluny were annually to keep November 2 as a "day of all the departed ones" (Omnium Defunctorum). On November 1, after vestpers the bell should be tolled and afterward the Office of the Dead be recited; on the next day all priests had to say Mass for the repose of the souls in purgatory.
This observance of the Bendictines of Cluny was soon adopted by other benedictines, and by the Carthusians. Pope Sylvester II (1003) spproved and recommended it. It was some time though, before the secular clergy introduced it in the various diocese. From the elventh to the fourteenth centuries it gradually spread in France, Germany, England, and Spain, the day of the commemoration of all the faithful departed in the official books of the Western Church for November 2 (or November 3 if the second falls on a Sunday).
November 2 was chose in order that the momeory of all the "holy spirits" both of saints in Heaven and of the souls in purgatory should be celebrated on two successive days, and in this way to express the Christian belief in the "Communion of Saints." Since the feast of All Saints had already been celebrated on November 1 for centuries, the memory of the departed souls in purgatory was place on the folowing day.
In the Greek Rite the commemoration of all the faithful departed is held on the Saturday before Seagesima Sunday, and is called the "Saturday of the Souls" (Psychosabbaton). The Aremenians celebrate it on Easter Monday, with the solemn Office of the Dead. The Mass, however, is that of the Ressurection. An interesting and moving observance is held in the Syrian-Antiochene Rite where they celebrate on three seperate days: on Friday before Septuagesima they commemorate all departed priests; on Friday before Sexagesima, all the faithful departed; and on Friday before Quinquagesima, "all those who died in strange places, away from their parents and friends."
Pope Benedict XV in 1915 allowed all priests to say three Masses on All Souls' Day in order to give increased help to the suffering souls in purgatory. The Church has also granted to all faithful special privileges of gaining indulgences for the holy souls in November 1 and 2. The Office of the Dead is recited by priests and religious communities. In many places the graves in cemeteries are blessed on the eve or in the morning of All Souls' Day, and a solemn service is usually held in parish churches.
The liturgical color at all servies on November 2 is black. The Masses are part of the group called "Requiem" Masses because they start with the words Requiem aeternam dona eis (Eternal reast grant unto them). The sequence sung at the solemn Mass on All Souls' Day (and on other occasions) is the famous poem Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) written by ta thirteenth century Franciscan. It has been often ascribed to Thomas of Celano (1260), the friend and biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi, though the authorship is not certian.
Traditional Observances, cultural traditions and Halloween to be continued...
Taken from Your Home, A Church in Miniature
Excerpt from Mexican Family Customs in Our Catholic Southwest
Rev. Theodore J. Radke
All Souls Day in Mexican custom calls for a religious celebration that requires preparation. For a week in advance the people will be making ready garlands and wreaths and rosses of real or paper flowers of every color under the sun to be used in decorating the graves of their deceased relatives. From early morning on All Souls Day the people will trek to the cemetery on foot, in cars, and in buses. The majority of them will spend the entire day at the cemetery.
At a set house of the afternoon the parish priest goes out to the cemetery for the recitation and singing of the prayers of the ritual at the graveside. Following this sermon a is preached to the assembled crowd. Then the priest is flooded with requests to go about the cemetery blessing the individual graves of the dead. For weeks following All Souls Day the cemeteries in our southwest are colorful with the hundreds of garlands and wreaths and crosses. During this period the cemetery becomes a sight-seeing stop for visitors to our cities.
Excerpt from Religious Customs Among the French of Louisiana
By: Rev. J. Albert Le Blanc
Possibly nowhere in America is All Saints' Day observed so strikingly as it is among the Louisiana French. For days preceding it, each family will clean, whitewash or paint the tombs, prepare artificial flowers, design wreaths and place these on the tombs. Among the financially better fixed, chrysanthemums and dahlias are used in decorating the graves. Before the expansion of the Church as we have it today, family neighborhood cemeteries were common. In our parish, St. Ann's at Mamou, La., we have six cemeteries besides the Church cemetery. In the afternoon of All-Saints' Day, the blessing of the graves takes place. A procession is held around the cemetery. The priest is at the head; the people follow. The beads are recited while the blessing is taking place. The ceremony ends with a sermon and the singing of the Libera. In some sections where the priest cannot assist, candles are lit at dusk, one for each member deceased and an all night vigil is held. Where out-door altars exist, Mass is celebrated in the cemeteries on All Souls Day.
Except from Russian German Customs from Ellis county, Kansas
By: Sister Mary Eloise Johannes, S.S.J. Ph. D.
On the feast of All Souls', November second, the priest and people go in procession to the cemetery and pray for the dead buried there and for all the faithful departed. The priest sprinkles the graves with holy water and the people frequently do likewise.
The real Von Trapp Family
Last weeks Keeping It Catholic Monday
was about All Hallow's Eve and All Saint's Day featuring an section out of Maria Von Trapp's book A Year with the Von Trapp Family.
This week is the rest of that story, we will continue to feature articles on All Saints/All Souls
day throughout the rest of October. November will be similar in the posts but the subject will be on that of keeping Advent, the season before Christmas. May you have a blessed week!The Saints & All Souls DayBy: Maria Von TrappA Year Around with the Von Trapp Family
Besides these "appointments" of patron saints, there are many chosen by the people. I never could find out why St. Anonthy of Padua (June 13th) has to find lost objects for everybody around the glove or why St. Matthew (February 24th) is the patron of repentant drunkards. With other saints it is easy to see why some incident of their life or death was taken up by the people as indications that they should be invoked in special cases. Good St. Anne is the patron saint for mothers-in-law and domestic troubles; St. Florian (May 4th), who was a Roman soldier condemned to death as a Christian and drowned in the River Enns in Austria, is universally invoked to extinguish fires, obviously with the help of the alter hallowed by his death; St. Bartholomew (August 24th), who was skinned alive, was made the patron for all tanners and butchers. It is easy to see why the Holy Innocents (December 28th) are the patrons of choir boys and foundlings but rather hard to fathom why St. Margaret (July 20th) cures kidney diseases.
One of our children made a list once, "in case we need it," of saints to be invoked for special illnesses. Here it is:
Against fever - St. Hugh (april 29th)
Against epilepsy - St. John Chrysostom (January 27th)
Against burns and poisons - St. John the Evangelist (December 27th)
Against inflammations - St. Benedict (March 21st)
Against cough and whooping cough - St. Blaise (February 3rd)
Against consumption - St. Pantaleon (July 27th)
Against cold - St. Sebaldus (August 19th)
Patron of all the sick and dying - St. John of God (March 8th)
One of our boys got interested in patron saints for special professions. Here is his little list:
St. Jerome - patron of students (September 30th)
St. Isadore - patron of laborers (May 10th)
St. Ives - patron of lawyers, jurists, advocates, notaries and orphans (May 19th)
The "Four Crowned Martyrs" - patrons of masons and sculptors (November 8th)
St. Francis de Sales - Patron of writers (January 29th)
St. Gomer - patron of the unhappily married (October 11th)
St. Gregory the Great - patron of singers (March 12th)
St. Cecilia - patroness of musicians
St. John the Baptist - Patron of tailors (June 24th)
St. Paul - patron of rope-makers (June 30th)
If there are girls and boys in a family and one of the boys has made a list of various saints for different professions, the girls simply have to make a list of patron saints too. Ours found patron saints for animals:
Bees- St. Ambrose (December 7th)
Pigs - St. Anthony the hermit (January 17th)
Dogs - St. Rochus (August 16th)
Horses - St. Leonard (November 16th)
Asses - St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th)
Birds - St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th)
Fish - St. Anthony (June 13th)
And once in a while somebody would come running with a special discover. "Mother, look! We have enough girls in our family. I found a patron saint to obtain male children: St. Felicitas (July 10th)!" "Mother, do you think Aunt Susan knows there is a stain of old maids- St. Catherine of Alexandria (November 25th)?"
They also found that St. Gaston is the patron of children who learned to walk very late, and they discovered a few valuable saints for weather. If you want rain, pray to St. Odo; if you want sunshine, pray to St. Claire. But the head of the heavenly weather department is of course St. Peter.
And so it goes. If the children in a family become sufficiently interested in their big brothers and sisters, the saints, to start making such lits and finding out about the respective feast days, it is just as if one of their grown-up sisters were getting married and the new in-laws taken into the family. Their birthdays and feast days are noted down, the enlargement of the family circle is celebrated, and this, each time, is a happy occasion.
While close relations are kept up with a great many of the saints, some of them are singled out by the Church to be celebrated in a special way. There is, for instance, St. John the Baptist, whose feast is celebrated on the twenty-fourth of June. We learn that as far back as the eighth century bonfires were being lit in honor of the precursor of Christ - the Johannesfeuer
- as a special solemnity. In the old world, the young people of the villages and towns take kindling wood up the mountains or outside of town to some beautiful spot on a river bank. Before it is lit a few words point out the significance of this fire at the height of the year, at the beginning of the summer when the nights are shortest; and the symbolism of fire and light in relation to that radiant figure, the Baptist. "He was a burning and shining light: and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light" (John 5:35). When the flames are leaping up, everybody present joins in singing one of the old songs of the occasion. When the fire is burning low, everyone leaps over it- boys and girls holding hands and leaping by twos. Then they settle down around the fire for the fire-watch until the last spark has died out.
Soon afterwards, on June 29th, we celebrate the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. The badge of St. Peter is the cock, in memory of the "thrice-crowing" of that animal. As St. Peter is the "Great Fisherman," his feast day is celebrated in many seacoast towns with great festivity. Boats are decorated with garlands and ribbons. There are races, and the chief dish is fish, of course.
In our extensive traveling throughout many countries over three continents we have come across many a saint who is very famous locally but of whom we otherwise might never have heard. One day in the year is set aside to remember them all- the ones whose names are mentioned in the calendar and the multitudes who stand around the throne of God. This is All Saints' Day, on November 1st. In the Epistle, St. John tells us about the vision he had of the "great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and in the sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands," singing praise to God.
The teaching of Our Lord in the Gospels tells us what makes a saint a saint: "Blessed are the meek... Blessed are they that mourn... Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice... Blessed are the merciful ... Blessed are the clean of heart... Blessed are the peacemakers... Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake..." Nothing is so encouraging as to consider, on All Saints' Day, those millions and millions around the throne of God who followed this teaching. Like St. Augustine before her, our Martina, when she was still quite little, said once on All Saints' day, "As I think of it, Mother, if all those people could do it, why not we!"
All Soul's Day
Toward the end of the year, on November 2nd, the Church sets a day asaide which is devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory. Just as we turn to our big sisters and brothers, the saints, to intercede for us as the throne of God, the poor souls are also turing toward us: "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, because the hand of the Lord has touched me" (Job 19:21; Office of the Dead). Helpless in themselves, since the purification they are undergoing is passive suffering, they can be helped by us. We can pray for them. we can offer up sacrafices and good works with the desire that God may accept them and, seeing in them the prayer and suffering rise from the Mystical Body of His only Son, hasten the delivery of those souls whom He deems worthy and ready for such help on the day of "all the faithful departed" the Church reminds her children to listen to the message of the Scriptures in her liturgy and to do some thinknig and meditating on Purgatory and the holy souls there.
We know Purgatory is a ralm of twilight, so to speak - an inbetween darkness and light, a place of regret and longing. If the suffering which is undergone there, we are told that it is bitter and great, that it surpasses all imaginable suffering here on earth as an ocean surpasses a little puddle.
A knowledge of Purgatory we find already in the Old Testament. Two hundred years before Christ Judas Macabeus "making a gathering... sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrafice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (for if he hand not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead); and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is, therefuore, a holy and wholesome thought to pray for thedead, that they may be loosed from thier sins" (II Macc. 12:43-46).
All Souls' Day is a solemn day for families. We mothers must tell our children again about the Communion of Saints, which functions in the same way as life in large family, where each member depends on the others. In this case, the poor souls depend on us. They depend on our love, but love does not consist in words only, it consists in our deeds. The sooner the little ones learn to understand this, the better it is for their whole life. On All Souls' Day they will be encouraged to bring little sacrafices, to say special prayers. They will be told about the thesaurus ecclesiaae, the golden treasure chest of Holy Church filled with the atoning sacrafice of Christ, the merits of the Blessed Birgin, of the saints - canonized and uncanonized - into which we may delve. Itwas given to Peter to bind and loosen, and his successor, making use of that very power, sets the conditions under which this can be done. One such disposition is the toties quoties indulgence: each time we visit a parish church on the second of November and say six "Our Fathers," six "Hail Marys," and six "Glorys," we may gain a plenary indulgence applicable to the poor souls.
All Souls' Day is also the date when we remind our children that on the solemn day of their baptism the Church lit the baptismal candle and said: "Receive this burning light and see thou guard the grace of thy baptism without blame. Keep the Commandments of God so that when the Lord shall come to call thee to the nuptials, thou mayst meet Him with all the Saints in the heavenly court, there thou mayest meet Him with all the Saints in the heavenly court, there to live forever and ever." This baptismal candle of our children we should wrap reverently and keep in a special place together with our own. If, as happened to us, these candles are no longer in the family (we could not take along such things from the old country), one can take candles blessed on Candlemas Day, tie the names of each child to a candle, and keep them in a special place. This is what we did. Only Johannes, being born in this country, has his own original baptismal candle. On All Souls' Day we take the candles out and look at them and remind each other to light our candle for any of us in case of sudden death, as a symbol that we want to die in our baptismal innocence, that the light which was kindled at that solemn moment has not been extinguished voluntarily by us. It is always a solemn moment when the children are called to think of their parents' death.
In the old country the great event of the day used to be the visit to the cemetery. First I have to describe an Austrian cemetery. Out in the country every village has its cemetery around the church; bigger towns have them on the outskirts. Every grave is a flower bed at the head of which is a crucifix, sometimes of wrought iron, sometimes carved in wood. Occasionally there are also tombstones. Families take care of their graves individually. People who have moved elsewhere will pay the cemetery keeper to do it for them. The German word for cemetery is Gottersacker, meaning "God's acre." In the summer it looks like a big flower garden. People are constantly coming and going, working on their gaves, or just praying for their loved ones. On anniversaries you will see vigil lights burning and on All Souls' Day every grave will have its little vigil light as a token that we do remember. People will flock out to the cemeteries in the early evening because it is such a sight - those many, many flames and all the mouns covered with flowers. Slowly one walks up and down the aisles, stopping at the graves of relatives and friends to say a short prayer and sprinkle them with holy water.
When the father of our family died several years ago, we started our own old-world cemetery. Soon one of his children followed him and now there are two flower-covered mounds under the large carved-wood crucifix. The lanterns are lit not only on the anniversaries and on All Souls' Day, but every Saturday night. A hedge of rosa multiflora encircles this holy spot. Inside the hedge there is a bench and we often sit there in the peace and quiet of our little acre of God.