Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
(All Souls' Day)

November 2, 2014 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today is a day of prayer. As we celebrate All Soul’s Day, we pray especially for all our brothers and sisters who have passed away. We remember those we have known and also pray for all who do not have anyone to pray for them. We pray with our hearts full of hope, based on Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: “[…] this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day” (Jn 6:38).

God wants to share his love and life with us. However, our hearts must be purified in order to be able to enter into full communion with God. This is what we do in this life. However, the path does not end when we die; many times it continues afterwards. Purgatory is the “time” for our final purification. Pope Benedict XVI used to say: “Purgatory basically means that God can put pieces back together again.”

Our prayer for the dead is an act of charity. With our prayers, especially with the offering of the Mass, we help them to walk toward the light. Saint John says: “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5). We know that when we are in a dark place and pass abruptly to the light, we need a few seconds to adjust. Light hurts eyes not adapted to it.

The mission of the Church is to help people walk toward God. This mission is accomplished now and in the hereafter, in the three states of the Church: the Church Militant, comprising Christians on earth who are living; the Church Triumphant, comprising those who are in Heaven; and the Church Penitent, comprising those who are presently in Purgatory.

The Church Triumphant and Penitent have a purely spiritual dimension. However, the Church Militant, besides the spiritual dimension, also has a material dimension. In order to accomplish her mission, the Church that lives on earth needs material support.

As we have done before, during the fall we are beginning a program that asks everyone to reflect on the amount of his or her Offertory gifts. It is a moment to ask why the Church asks us for money and why we should help provide for the needs of the Church.

There are two main reasons why the Church asks us for money.

First, the Church wants to help us understand the meaning of having things. This is known as evangelical poverty. In the Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to love him above everything and everyone. He gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem, who gave all that she had. Christian poverty is not a matter of not having things but putting what we have to better use. The Church wants to help us understand that everything we have and are has been given to us by God, to whom we are grateful.

When we give a part of what we have, we are reminded of this. We are not the owners but mere stewards. That is why we are all invited to return a fair measure of the gifts that the Lord has given us. This also allows us to recognize that everything belongs to Him. In doing so, we are helped to become detached from what we possess. Giving helps us let go of our attachment to material things. We must not place our hope in the money we have in the bank. We need to be detached from whatever does not bring true happiness. When we give generously, we feel peace in our hearts and gratitude to God, who gives us everything.

The second reason why we should give the Church money is that the Church has needs that have to be supported through donations from the faithful. The Church requires support from all her members to accomplish her mission.  We are a family and in a family we support each other. We support what we love.

Over the past five years, our parish has had annual operating deficits, which have significantly reduced our cash reserves There is a projected operating deficit of $5,900 for the current fiscal year. We would like to maintain the current level of cash reserves so that they can be used for emergency situations only. As you know, the church facilities are over 50 years old.

The act of giving should be motivated by gratitude, not mandate. Each of us must decide how grateful we are for God’s gifts and return a portion of them joyfully, in thanksgiving for what we have received. Are any of us thankful enough or are we putting the same old amount in the envelope that we have for years, even though God’s gifts to us continue to grow? Do we focus more on giving regularly than we do on the amount that we give?

Next weekend at all Masses, each household will be asked to make an Offertory commitment. Cards will be provided on which people will indicate the amount they intend to give each week next year. A brochure will be mailed out later this week. All are asked to read it carefully and reflect prayerfully upon whether their current commitments are enough, too much or too little.

Next weekend, one member of each household should be prepared to complete a commitment card at Mass.

Let us pray that this program will help us understand the meaning of the possession of material things and increase our support of our parish.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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