Have you ever questioned or wondered about some aspect of the Catholic faith? Well now is your chance to do just that! Four County Catholic Magazine is introducing a new column entitled A QUESTION OF FAITH. Every edition will offer our readers the opportunity to ask and have their questions answered.
We are grateful to Father Richard D. Breton, Jr. for his willingness to assist us in this new endeavor.
What is the importance of the Solemnity of All Saint’s Day and the Commemoration of All Soul’s Day?
As November approaches, we come to the end of the Church’s Liturgical Year when we are invited to reflect on end times. The Church help us to do this by reminding us of the three phases of the Church. These are called the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant.
With the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints’, we focus our attention on the Church Triumphant. By explaining the Church as Triumphant, we are referring to those Saints, and souls, who have the privilege of enjoying the Heavenly Kingdom. Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend the Church Triumphant, because we think of saints as far off, not within our reach. On the contrary, we can look to several saints of our time: members of the Church Triumphant.
One is St. Teresa of Calcutta, more affectionately known as Mother Teresa. In 1995, Mother Teresa was invited to New Bedford, MA to open a Convent of the Missionaries of Charity. Part of the celebration included a visit from St. Teresa and the celebration of Holy Mass. By the grace of God, I had the privilege of meeting her!
It was during the Mass at the sign of peace. I was in the front row on the right side of the main aisle. As I turned to my left across the aisle there she was, St. Teresa of Calcutta. As I motioned to offer a sign of peace she came out of the pew into the aisle, and we met halfway. We embraced and offered the sign of peace. What was interesting was she spoke to me in a very loving way. She encouraged me in my vocation and assured me of her prayers. I gave her a hug, totally afraid of breaking this little holy nun, and returned to my pew. Little did I know, I was hugging a Saint of God! We are blessed to have the entire Communion of saints interceding for us before God.
In union with the Church Triumphant, we also participate in constant prayer for the souls in purgatory, also known as the Church Suffering. Our prayers are needed to assist those on the brink of entering heaven. Purgatory is the place we need to fix imperfections and earthly blemishes, making amends for our earthly errors. November 2nd is the Commemoration of the faithful departed, commonly known as All Souls’ Day. This is the day when we remember all the faithfully departed, but more importantly, the souls in purgatory.
All Souls’ Day is a day when priests can celebrate three Masses. The first Mass is offered for the Holy Father’s intentions, followed by the second offered for all the souls, and finally, the third Mass is offered for a particular intention. Each year when I celebrate All Souls’, I take all the names of the people whose funerals I celebrated in the previous year and place them on the Altar for the entire month of November.
Each year I look forward to celebrating All Souls’ Day, the one day of the year when I wear my Black Vestments to Commemorate the importance of the faithfully departed. It is also a day when we are encouraged to visit the cemetery and offer prayers to all the people buried there. Whenever I visit a cemetery, I see a field of hope! Hope that one day these mortal bodies will be reunited with the spiritual body at the second coming.
The third stage of the church is the Church Militant. Sometimes it is also called the Church praying, or church at prayer. We are the Church Militant! Every one of us makes up this special part of the Church. This is especially accomplished when the entire Church is united in prayer. In 2013, I visited the Eternal City of Rome. This visit coincided with the Anniversary of my Ordination to the Priesthood.
While in Rome, I was able to participate in the Celebration of Corpus Domini, or as we call it Corpus Christi, with the Holy Father. This was a beautiful example of the Church at prayer, or the Church Militant. The Pope, Bishops, Priests, Religious and the laity all worshiping together. This is the most visible sign of the unity of the Church at prayer. In today’s world, we need reminders of the importance of the Church at prayer.
We especially are called to unite in prayer against the evil of religious persecution. We must also continue to pray fervently for an end to the moral evils of our time. The Church Militant must pray harder! The Church and the world are under attack from the evil one and the battle is ongoing!
These three stages of the Church, when united, present us with the perfect example of how to live the faith. United with the Saints and Blessed, the Souls in Purgatory and us the faithful, we experience the fullness of the Church.
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones, Pray For us!
May the Souls of All the Faithful Departed, Rest in Peace!
By Rev. Richard D. Breton, Jr.
Father Breton has been a priest for 15 years and is the parochial vicar of Guardian Angels Parish in Colchester. In addition to his parish responsibilities, Father Breton is a spiritual director at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, as well as the minister templi, or chaplain, of the Catholic Templars, New York Commandery, USA. Father Breton also writes a weekly column called “The Beacon of Light” for The Wanderer, one of the oldest Catholic newspapers in the United States. Father has also published several articles in Homiletic and Pastoral Review and The National Catholic Register.
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