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Dear Parish Family,

I am excited to inaugurate a message series on the Saints, on this Solemnity of All Saints. November 1st is a day to commemorate all those holy ones who share in the radiance of the Father’s glory in Heaven. If our loved ones are home with God, then they are saints. Heaven is the eternal home of saints. In Paul’s letters he often refers to Christians as “the holy ones” or “the saints,” depending on the translation. Yet often we do not think of ourselves or our loved ones that way. But so it is.

In fact, tomorrow - All Souls Day - and over the next nine days, a novena of Masses will be offered for all of our beloved dead. We are lifting them up in prayer to the Father, seeking that the grace of Christ purify them of anything that would prevent them from entering the realm of the perfect in Heaven. We offer the holy Mass, our most powerful prayer, that the grace of Christ’s perfect self-offering be applied to their souls. With this novena of Masses we are speeding our loved ones home to Heaven, ensuring they will be named “saints among the saints in the halls of Heaven,” as the priest prays in one of our Eucharistic Prayers.

Sanctity or holiness is the journey of a lifetime beginning at Baptism. We are all called to holiness of life as the Second Vatican Council aptly reminded all Christians (Lumen Gentium,  Ch. V ). This calling is universal; it is not reserved for priests or nuns or crazy church-people. All those who belong to Christ Jesus are called to be saints, called to a truly abundant life in the grace of Christ.

In the early days of the Church, saints were declared by “popular acclaim.” If people in the local church considered someone a saint upon her death then they venerated her life and sought her intercession. Miracles often followed. Much later on an official process emerged for the recognition of Saints worthy of veneration by the Church. Recognition is a key term. When the Church declares a person a Saint, she is NOT making a saint. Rather, she merely recognizes the presence of sanctity in the life of the person in question, and seeks the verification of that fact through approved miracles. Presently, the process has four stages to ensure and confirm the presence of holiness: (1) Servant of God, (2) Venerable, (3) Beatification, and (4) Canonization. Yesterday, October 31, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut, Rev. Michael J. McGivney - founder of the Knights of Columbus - was officially beatified. Blessed Fr. McGivney, pray for us!

This weekend during my message at the holy Mass, we will be focusing on another wonderful Catholic hero whose recognition is in process: Servant of God  Catherine Doherty, whose friends called her the “B” for Baroness. Catherine was Russian orthodox, fled Russia, almost starved, emigrated to Canada, converted to Catholicism and eventually settled in Combermere, Ontario where a community of consecrated lay women and men as well as priests grew up around her. A remarkable woman by any measure, but especially in her homespun mysticism and love for the poor that attracted so many to her.

Allow me to share with you her Little Mandate  - an assemblage of counsel and challenge that came forth from her heart inspired by Christ and inspires many still.

Arise – go! Sell all you possess. / Give it directly, personally to the poor. / Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me. / Little – be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike. / Preach the Gospel with your life – without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you. / Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me. / Love…love…love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. / Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. / Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbour’s feet. / Go without fears into the depths of men’s hearts. I shall be with you. / Pray always. I will be your rest.

Sometimes I will choose to be guided by one of those phrases for the whole day. Usually just that is challenging enough. The whole mandate is for me a challenge and a calling to holiness. These are nuggets of the Gospel mined through Catherine’s potent prayer and polished by her own life of sacrifice and virtue. May these words help to guide you on your journey to embrace our baptismal calling and to be named “saints among the Saints in the halls of Heaven.”

Happy All Saints Day!
Fr. Wilson

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