October 31, 2021

Ask any child/adult what is today (October 31) and many will reply...... It's Halloween and "Trick or Treat." It's time for candy, hot dogs, and parties for both kids & adults. It's time for scary tales and movies, of carved pumpkins and varieties of costumes both funny and frightening.

Over the years, the day of All Hallows Eve [Halloween] has become known for it's parties and costumes rather than the day to prepare to remember the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1. Perhaps even as Christians we need to be reminded that in our daily life we are to be about becoming saints.  Please note that this year because the holyday of All Saints is on a Monday it is not a day of obligation. We will still celebrate this great remembrance of All Saints of the Church and if possible, I encourage you to join us for the 11:40 am or 1:15 pm Masses on Monday, November 1 as we honor All Saints.

This feast of All Saints calls us not so much to remember the Blessed Virgin Mary or St. Joseph, St. Francis or St. Clare, St. Mother Theresa or St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Anthony or St. Patrick but to remember those saints who are not listed on the Church calendar. To recall to memory those who may not have statues in their honor but have been or can be powerful influences in our lives. People who have been examples of faithful followers of Jesus who now call us to greater faith because of how they lived Christ's message in their lives.

When I think of All Saints I recall the men and women, priests, religious and laity of Central America who were murdered in the 1980’s because of their faith in Jesus. I think of the many people of the Mideast today, especially those Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan who are trying to practice their Catholic faith and are suffering persecution, are forced to leave their homelands or even murdered all because of their belief in Jesus. Of those suffering in various Asian countries because of their faithfulness to the Gospel.

I think of parents who sacrifice (large & small) for their children. Husbands & wives who care for one another… in good times & in bad… in sickness & health…. The spouse who cares for their husband/wife who is chronically ill. The grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

On the feast of All Saints we are called by God to remember the saints who touch our lives. We recall our tradition of prayer for the faithful departed, especially tomorrow (November 2 on the feast of All Souls). As Christians, All Saints reminds us that "trick or treat"  should be seen as symbol of Christian hospitality (not how much candy we get or partying that we do). The practice of "Trick or Treat" should remind us of the willingness to receive and give without requiring something in return.

On All Hallows Day (Halloween) we need to recall that the tradition of Jack O'Lanterns (lighted pumpkins) began not as symbols of fear but as welcoming lamps to guide us home, to realize that we who walk the earth are called to be lamps lighting the way for others. This tradition began hundreds of years ago in Ireland and was brought by Irish immigrants to the USA.

We celebrate All Saints to remind you/me that we are called to be saints. Who me?!? YES you!!! Because isn't that what our lives are all about.... to grow in holiness & w/compassion for one another? The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, said, “A saint is not so much [someone] who realizes that they possesses virtue and sanctity as one who is overwhelmed by the sanctity of God.”

This year on All Saints, I encourage you to remember that in humility we realize we become saints not by our great works, our selfless deeds, our many prayers, our being Catholic, but rather through the boundless love of God who calls each of us to be saint.

As we begin the month of November, I encourage you to remember your loved ones who have died. Feel free to write in our Book of the Dead, those you wish to remember. You will find the book near the Baptismal Fount in the back of church.  On Monday, November 1 we remember All Saints at the 11:40 am and 1:15 pm Masses. On Tuesday, November 2, All Souls, we remember all of our deceased relatives and friends at the 11:40 am and 1:15 pm Masses.

SYNOD 2021-2023

 On Oct. 10, 2021, Pope Francis formally opened a two-year process called “A Synod on Synodality,” officially known as “Synod 2021-2023: For a Synodal Church.” Though there has not been much publicity about this Synod here in the USA, you will be hearing more and more about it in the coming months. And hopefully there will be clearer information about what might be its implication for the Church in the coming years.

In brief, the process involves an expansion of an established institution, called the “Synod of Bishops.” This means that bishops around the world will consult with everyone from parishioners to monks, nuns and Catholic universities before coming together for a discussion in 2023. The topic? How the church can learn to rely more fully on this kind of consultation-and-discussion process – how it can become more “synodal” in its governance. Throughout the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has held many gatherings called “synods” – but seldom one this sweeping in its potential consequences.

Many people – even many practicing Catholics – may find the name “Synod on Synodality” and its purpose puzzling. What is a synod in the first place? The word derives from an ancient Greek term that means “coming together” or “traveling together.” Ancient Christians developed a custom of local leaders coming together to pray and make decisions about matters affecting all the Christian communities in a region. They gathered in the faith that their prayers and discussions would reveal God’s will and the way to achieve it. 

The above information about the Synod is from an article in The Conversation and was written by Fr. William Clark, SJ who is Professor of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross. More details about this Synod will be available in the coming months.

I also ask that everyone please continue to observe all health safety protocols so that together we all might continue to do everything we can to help eliminate the danger of COVID to others and hopefully soon return to some semblance of normality. Don't forget to get your COVID vaccine and also a FLU shot. Let's all do everything we can to keep one another healthy in the coming Chicago winter season!

Fr. Michael