The parish celebrated St Francis day in style. Mass was followed by butter chicken and naan bread, courtesy of Fr Gregory. A great way to mark the life of an extraordinary man that is lived out every day in our parish in the dedication and generosity of our priests.
1 November is All Saints Day. The saints lives were as complicated as ours but they held true to what matters. They show us the way.
You have probably heard the quote 'Pray, Hope and Don't Worry' before! This was Saint Padre Pio's favourite motto. St Pio (1887-1968) is one of the most popular and amazing saints of recent times. He had many extraordinary gifts. People travelled from afar to attend his Masses and have Reconciliation with him in his parish at San Giovanni Rotondo.
A very holy priest, who loved hearing confessions, St Pio was renowned for the gift of looking into people’s souls and deciphering if they were telling the truth; sometimes he refused absolution if the person neglected to mention certain sins. Despite this, there were lines of people trailing for hundreds of metres outside the church doors, waiting to attend confession with him, and to hear Mass. One day during confession, St Pio experienced extreme pain in his hands and feet. Round wounds appeared; they bled and smelled of roses. Although they constantly wept, they never became infected, and the doctors who examined him were amazed at the perfectly round shape of the wounds. The Church, after an investigation, concluded that St. Pio had the stigmata.
St Pio was able to see guardian angels, and he spoke with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. He was also constantly tormented by the Devil, and visited by souls from Purgatory. He was reported to have been seen levitating during a moment of ecstatic prayer; and he also had the unusual gift of bilocation, being in two places at once. Thus he was celebrating Mass in one place, and at the same time he was seen at the bedside of one of his dying or ill spiritual children.
A very holy and prayerful man, St Pio's Masses were often more than two hours long. He understood the beauty and truth behind Mass, and those who attended felt truly blessed.
Eucharist, it’s what we do
If we strip all the distractions away what do we find? Maybe the distractions are a comfort to us. Maybe we don’t want to know what life is like without them. But, for the adventurous love is what we find.
One parishioner was heard to comment that maybe church is too complicated. Maybe faith can be more simple than what we make it.
Jews are called to prayer three times a day, Muslims are called five times. As Christians we are simply called to continuous prayer. This is Jesus inviting us to an on-going relationship with him. He is with us in our work. He is with us when we are with family and friends. He is with us in our quiet times. He is at our shoulder throughout the day. His message is unchanging…I love you, yes you.
All too hard? Try the Eucharist. Unlike other places the Eucharist is freely available to us without incrimination. Unlike other places the Eucharist is available to us every day. On Sunday in our parish it is available at eight different times. The Eucharist is available to us so that we can eat Christ, put him in our mouths, swallow him and become gradually more like him. We can become part of his love. He is not just at our shoulder, he is becoming part of us in our thinking, feelings and actions.
We are what we eat. Perhaps our faith is that simple. Jesus is with us all the time, slowly we are getting closer to his image…love.
What is purgatory?
All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (CC1030).
We undergo this purification in Purgatory. Is Purgatory even mentioned in the Bible? Yup. Here are some scripture passages, some of which speak for themselves:
"But nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]" (Rev. 21:27)
In the Old Testament, just before the coming of Christ, the Jews were documented to atone for the sins of the dead, that they may rest in peace. Here we have a passage from II Maccabees 12:39-46, where Judas Maccabeus and his troops pray for the souls of their fallen comrades, who were suspected to have committed idolatry: they “turned to prayer beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out… He also took up a collection... and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably… Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” So, for Jesus and his contemporaries, it was common practice to pray for the souls of the departed.
In Matthew 5:24-25, Jesus uses a parable about Purgatory.
”Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26).
Corinthians 3:11-15 discusses specifically what happens to those after death who have committed bad 'works', and remember the fire in the passage is a purifying fire:
“For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
So, how do we cope with these realities. Do you have a view? Your perspectives are very welcome. Share them to firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can be published.
THIS MONTH'S SUNDAY READINGS (press play to view the video)
...is editor of our monthly magazine. If you have news and views to share please email them to: email@example.com