The Boston Archdiocesan Choir School sang and served the All Saints Mass that took place at St. Paul’s in Cambridge Nov. 1. Pilot photo/Robea Patrowicz
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This week’s blog is focused on the remembrance of the faithful departed. But before I get into that, I want to bring your attention to the movie “Bella” opening in Boston Nov. 9. (...)I strongly encourage all priests and parish leaders to organize groups to go and watch this very wonderful and moving story. And of course I hope that all blog readers will do their best to watch this movie.
The faithful departed
November is a time when the Church reminds us that we are pilgrims here, that our life is geared toward eternal life with God. We begin the month with All Saints Day, celebrating all of our brothers and sisters who have gone home to the Lord and are in glory.
Many of the saints are unknown, and in my homily yesterday I said it reminded me of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Most national cemeteries have such a tomb to remind people of the many soldiers who were never identified but selflessly gave up their lives for their country. There are so many saints in heaven who are not canonized or part of the litany. They lived the holiness to which we are all called by simply living in God’s love and grace. It is the reason that we have been created and why we are here.
So we begin November with the feast of All Saints to remind us of the goal -- heaven, and then today on All Souls, we are reminded of the need for purification as we prepare ourselves as pilgrims on the journey toward God. Part of the pilgrimage can be purification after death, which gives us the wonderful opportunity of praying for our beloved dead.
Of course, the highest form of prayer that we have is the Mass, and for that reason the Church allows each priest to say more than one Mass today, even without pastoral reasons. There can be other occasions when, because of a pastoral need, a priest says three Masses in the same day. But on Christmas Day and All Souls Day, a priest can celebrate that many Masses, even if he is celebrating without a congregation. So I had my first Mass today at Bishop Peterson, I had a second at noon for chancery employees unable to attend the morning Mass. Then, in the afternoon, I said my third Mass at the cathedral.
Every time the Mass is celebrated, there is a special remembrance of all of our beloved dead, all of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. They are still part of our Church, and we are all part of the body of Christ. The All Souls Day liturgy teaches us of our connectedness to one another in the body of Christ. It is a very beautiful feast day, and I am always gratified that many Catholics take the opportunity to come to Mass and pray for their dead, even though it is not a holy day of obligation. Many also visit the cemeteries, especially people of certain ethnic groups. As a Catholic community, we have about 70 cemeteries in the archdiocese. We see burying the dead as a very important work of mercy. And of course we bury them in the hope of eternal life.
All Saints Mass
On Thursday, I celebrated the All Saints Day Mass at St. Paul Parish in Cambridge. It was the noon Mass, and the church was filled. It was a beautiful experience.
We were quite impressed by how well they sang, but particularly at how beautifully they executed the serving of the Mass. Obviously, these are boys who are raised so close to the liturgy, and it extends also to serving at Mass. It was very touching to see how well-trained and devout they were.
It was also good to see so many Harvard students and parishioners present at the Mass along with Father Robert Congdon and the other chaplains from Harvard -- Father George Salzmann and Father William Murphy.
Honoring Dr. Biscet
(...) I was informed that Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a Cuban doctor who has fought to defend life in Cuba, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 5 in recognition for his defense of the unborn. He is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence in Cuba for defending his beliefs. The White House has rightly called Dr. Biscet a “champion in the fight against tyranny and oppression.”
Also in this week’s blog
> Annual Mass of the Order of Malta at Boston College’s St. Mary Chapel
> Receiving the Tuitio Fidei award from the Cuban chapter of the Order of Malta
> Meeting Father Christian Noval, a priest of the Diocese of Copenhagen in Denmark.
> Central region welcoming reception for Father Arthur Kennedy
> Greeting Abbot Yaghyia, the abbot of an Armenian Catholic monastery in Venice
> Visiting a Jesuit retirement community at the Campion Center
> Attending St. Elizabeth Medical Center’s annual gala