U. S. presidential election homily: https://fssp.com/staring-into-the-abyss-an-election-homily-by-fr-ed-meeks/
ALL SAINTS DAY (Nov 1, 2020) (Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a) in one page
The feast and its objectives: All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tm 2:5). The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity, truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others. (+ an anecdote)
Reasons why we honor the saints: 1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration of them.
2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness can, with the grace of God, be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.
3- The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,). 4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?). We all can become saints by choosing well by doing good and avoiding evil, by choosing to follow Christ, all the way to heaven.
2) We need to take the shortcuts practiced by three St. Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him ii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of your ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love. Do something beautiful for God.
All Saints Day (Nov 1, 2019): Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a
Homily starter anecdotes: 1) Contacting extraterrestrials on All Saints Day: There is a branch of science called Astrobiology or Exobiology. Applying all modern branches of science, it studies the possibility of existence of living beings in other planets or stars and consequence of human contact with any of the terrestrial form of life. On July 16, 1969, the day Unites States sent Apollo 11 to moon with three astronauts, the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) passed a law concerning extraterrestrial contacts. Its title 14 in section 1211 stipulated that anyone who comes into contact with any form of extraterrestrial life should immediately report the matter to the federal Government and undergo a period of quarantine to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria or viruses or other dangerous pathogens on earth. The Law was withdrawn in 1991 because no such case was reported except in science fictions like Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain. But scientists have been sending signals into the cosmos, hoping for a response from some intelligent being on some distant planet. Only the Church has always maintained a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world — the saints – that is both possible and profitable. That is what we proclaim when we say the Creed, “I believe in … the Communion of Saints” and we celebrate All Saints Day. Even if inhabitants outside of the solar system existed, communication with them would be impossible, because between the question and the answer, millions of years would pass. But in the case of saints, the answer is immediate because there is a common center of communication and encounter, and that is the risen Christ. (Adapted from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Vatican). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) A pumpkin story: “What is it like to be a Christian saint?” “It is like being a Halloween pumpkin. God picks you from the field, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you by inviting you to confess your sins and seek reconciliation. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out the yucky stuff. He removes the pulp of impurity and injustice and seeds of doubt, hate, and greed from you. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light of holiness or Holy Spirit inside you to shine for the entire world to see by your serving and sharing love, mercy and forgiveness.” This is the Christian idea behind the carved pumpkins during the Halloween season. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) Diversity of Saints One thing that strikes you first about the Saints is their diversity. It would be very difficult to find one pattern of holiness, one way of following Christ. There is Thomas Aquinas, the towering intellectual, and John Vianney (the Curé d’Ars), who barely made it through the seminary. There is Vincent de Paul, a saint in the city, and there is Antony who found sanctity in the harshness and loneliness of the desert. There is Bernard kneeling on the hard stones of Clairvaux in penance for his sins, and there is Hildegard of Bingen singing and throwing flowers, madly in love with God. There is Albertus Magnus, the quirky scientist, half-philosopher and half-wizard, and there is Gerard Manley Hopkins, the gentle poet. There is Peter, the hard-nosed and no-nonsense fisherman, and there is Edith Stein, secretary to Edmund Husserl and colleague to Martin Heidegger, the most famous philosopher of the twentieth century. There is Joan of Arc, leading armies into war, and there is Francis of Assisi, the peacenik who would never hurt an animal. There is the grave and serious Jerome, and there is Philip Neri, whose spirituality was based on laughter. How do we explain this diversity? God is an artist, and artists love to change their styles. The saints are God’s masterpieces, and He never tires of painting them in different colors, different styles, and different compositions. What does this mean for us? It means we should not try to imitate any one Saint exactly. Look to them all, study their unique holiness, but then find that specific color God wants to bear through you. St. Catherine of Siena was right: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” (Bishop. Robert Barren). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
The feast and its objectives: The feast gives us an occasion to thank God for having invited so many of our ancestors to join the company of the saints. May our reflection on the heroic lives of the saints and the imitation of their lifestyle enable us to hear from our Lord the words of grand welcome to eternal bliss: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joys of your master” (Mt 25:21). Today is also a day for us to pray to the saints, both the canonized and the uncanonized, asking them to pray on our behalf that we may live our lives in faithfulness like theirs, and so receive the same reward. All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is a day on which we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. In fact, we celebrate the feast of each canonized saint on a particular day of the year. But there are countless other saints and martyrs, men, women and children united with God in Heavenly glory, whose feasts we do not celebrate. Among these would be our own parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters who were heroic women and men of Faith. All Saints Day is intended to honor their memory. Hence, today’s feast can be called the feast of the Unknown Saint, in line with the tradition of the “Unknown Soldier.” According to Pope Urban IV (ca. 1195-1264; ruled August 29, 1261-October 2, 1264), All Saints’ Day is also intended to supply any deficiencies in our celebration of feast of saints during the year. In addition, the feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tm 2:5). Today, the Church reminds us that God’s call for holiness is universal and that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We show holiness when we live lives of integrity and truth, that is, wholesome and integrated lives in which we are close to others while being close to God.
Halloween and All Saints’ Day. All Saints Day is a universal Christian feast honoring all Christian saints – known and unknown. The feast is celebrated by the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican churches. “Halloween,” celebrated in the United States, England, Ireland and France on the eve of the Day of All Saints, got its name from “All Hallows Eve” or the vigil of All Saints Day. The Celtic people, who lived in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and northern France before the Christian era, believed that their god of death (Samhain) would allow the souls of the dead to return to their homes for a festal visit on this day. People also believed that ghosts, witches, goblins and elves came to harm the people, particularly those who had inflicted harm on them in this life. The Druid priests built a huge bonfire of sacred oak branches and offered animal and even human sacrifice to protect people from marauding evil spirits on the eve of Samhain feast. This belief led to the ritual practice of wandering about in the dark dressed in costumes indicating ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons. But some historians believe that the pumpkin-carving and trick-or-treating are recent customs, reminiscent of Irish harvest festivals, brought to the United States by Catholic immigrants from Ireland and England.
Historical note: A common commemoration of the saints, especially the martyrs, appeared in various areas throughout the Church after the legalization of Christianity in AD 313. The primary reason for establishing a common feast day was the desire to honor the great number of Christians martyred during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). In the East, the city of Edessa celebrated this feast on May 13, the Syrians, on the Friday after Easter, and the city of Antioch, on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Both St. Ephrem (d. 373) and St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) attest to this feast day in their preaching. The earliest observance of the holiday was recorded in the early fourth century. But the feast was only fully established in the early seventh century under Pope Boniface IV (ruled 608-615), who consecrated Rome’s Pantheon to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in AD 609 (www.diffen.com). Pope Gregory IV (ruled 828-844), made All Saints’ a holy day in the mid-eighth century and moved it to November 1. Some observe All Saints’ Day by leaving offering of flowers honoring dead relatives. Others light candles in remembrance and visit the graves of deceased relatives. Catholic Church teaches about three “states of the church”: pilgrimage, purification, and glory. We who live on earth are the pilgrimage Christians who are forgiven sinners trying to become saints. That is why the New Testament calls all baptized Christians “saints,” hagioi, holy ones. Those in purgatory are in the purification stage and they are saints in the making and the glorified Christians are real saints enjoying the beatific vision in heaven. All Saints Day is based on this theological concept of the Communion of Saints. Communion here means fellowship or sharing in the gifts given by God to those whom God has chosen.
Reasons why we honor the saints: 1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration. (“The Saints”, St. Bernard says, “have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs…. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning” (Disc. 2, Opera Omnia Cisterc. 5, 364ff.).
2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness can, with God’s grace be lived by ordinary people, of all walks of life and at all times.
3- The saints are our heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4).
4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Exodus), the bones of the prophet Elisha (II Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts: 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles. For Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and to some extent, the Anglicans, “All Saints Day” is a day, not only to remember the saints and to thank God for them, but also to pray for their help. It is, as well, a day to glorify Jesus Christ, who by his holy life and death has made the saints holy. This feast offers a challenge to each one of us: anybody can, with the grace of God, become a saint, regardless of his or her age, lifestyle or living conditions. St. Augustine accepted this challenge when he asked the question: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?).
Today’s Scripture readings summarized: The first reading (Rev 7: 2-4, 9-14, taken from the Book of Revelation, speaks of John’s vision of saints in their Heavenly glory: “…a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands” (Rv 7:9). “This people includes the Saints of the Old Testament, starting with the righteous Abel and the faithful Patriarch, Abraham, those of the New Testament, the numerous early Christian Martyrs and the Blesseds and Saints of later centuries, to the witnesses of Christ in this epoch of ours.: (Pope Benedict). In the Second Reading (1Jn 3: 1-3) the Apostle John remarks: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (I Jn 3: 1). The saints enjoy what unrevealed heavenly glory. The reading also suggests that saints are people who have responded generously to the love God has showered on them. St. John tells us that to be “saints” means to be “children of God”—and then he adds: “so we are”! All Saints Day reminds us that we are called to be a part of that vast multitude of holy ones whose numbers are so great they cannot be counted. Offering us the Beatitudes in today’s Gospel (Mt 5: 1-12), the Church reminds us that all the saints whose feasts we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the Beatitudes to arrive at their Heavenly bliss. As Pope benedict remarks, “ the blessed par excellence is only Jesus. He is, in fact, the true poor in spirit, the one afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker. He is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.” The Beatitudes are God’s commandments expressed in positive terms. They go far beyond what is required by the Ten Commandments, and they are a true and reliable recipe for sainthood. (Poverty of spirit is knowing our need for God. Mourning is embracing the inevitable sufferings of life and alleviating the sorrows of others. Meekness is docility to God’s will, gentleness, and patience with others, even in the face of sufferings, disappointments, and insults. Hunger for justice is the longing to see everyone enjoy the peace, happiness, justice, and healing promised by Christ. We obtain mercy by extending it to others. Purity of heart is that right intention or sincerity that puts God first and judges everything else in relationship to God. Real peace is reached when enemies become trustworthy friends. Suffering for doing what is right is accompanied by deep happiness even now.) Thus the saints are those who most perfectly manifested the Christ-like character described in the first part of the beatitudes, and who therefore now partake of the promises in the second part: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We should see the beatitudes not as a prescription of what we must do per se to become blessed, but as a description of what a human being is like whom Jesus Christ is transforming into a saint! Jesus is telling us that when the transformative power of the cross brings about in us a greater meekness, poverty of spirit, and so forth, we will experience that we are being blessed.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?). On the feast of All Saints, the Church invites and challenges us to walk the walk of the saints and not just talk the talk: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven” (Mt 7:21).
2) We can take the short cuts practiced by three Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him ii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of one’s ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love.
3) We need to walk the walk: On the feast of All Saints, the Church invites and challenges us to walk the walk of the saints and not just talk the talk: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven” (Mt 7:21). 2) The feast gives us an occasion to thank God for having invited so many of our ancestors to join the company of the saints. May our reflection on the heroic lives of the saints and the imitation of their lifestyle enable us to hear from our Lord the words of grand welcome to eternal bliss: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joys of your master” (Mt 25:21).
4) We need to pray to the saints, both the canonized and the uncanonized, asking them to pray on our behalf that we may live our lives in faithfulness like theirs, and so receive the same reward.
Joke of the week: “Both of us are Halloween!”: Two little neighbor girls about the same age, one Christian and one Jewish, were constant companions. After one Easter holiday, the grandfather of the Christian girl asked her what her friend had received for Easter. The girl looked at her grandfather in surprise, and said, “But Grandpa, you should know that Becky is Jewish and she wouldn’t get anything for Easter.” Then she went on to explain patiently, “You see, I’m Easter and she’s Passover. I’m Christmas and she’s Hanukkah.” Then with a big smile, she added, “but I’m really glad that both of us are Halloween.” [Buddy Westbrook in Loyal Jones: The Preacher’s Joke Book (Little Rock, Arkansas: August House, 1989), p. 26.]
Websites of the week
- St. Oscar Romero film in YouTube: Story of a modern martyr
- Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
- Msgr. Clarke Pope’s homilies: https://msgrpope.com/catechetical-teachings-2/
- Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://lectiotube.com/
- U. S. presidential election homily: https://fssp.com/staring-into-the-abyss-an-election-homily-by-fr-ed-meeks/
21 Additional anecdotes:
1. A call and challenge to become saints: All Saints Day is a summons, a call, a challenge to every one of us who is here. It gives us the simple but reassuring fact is that nobody is born a saint. It is something you have to become. All Saints Day beckons us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential—the promise that lies within each of us. The promise of holiness. It is the promise that was fulfilled in the countless people we venerate this day—our models, our companions, our inspirations, our guides. All the saints. They give us blessed hope. Because they assure us again and again: no one is born a saint. But every one of us, by the grace of God, can become one. 1)Consider St. Margaret of Cortona. As a teenager, she was the mistress of a young nobleman. She lived with him for nine years, even had a son with him, hoping at some point her lover would marry her. He never did. When he was finally murdered, the shock caused Margaret to re-evaluate her life. She went on to take vows a Franciscan. Her son also joined the order. She was canonized in 1728. 2) St. Benedict Joseph Labre. Sometimes those who become saints are not the ones we expect. They may be the filthy, the rejected, the outcast, the homeless. People like Benedict Joseph Labre. He grew up the son of a prosperous shopkeeper but felt called to give up everything and follow Christ. He spent his life wandering from church to church in Rome. He rarely bathed, never washed his clothes. Some people were repelled by him. But the purity of his devotion and his love of God moved and inspired those who saw him day after day. When he died at the young age of 35, priests of Rome preserved his filthy clothes as relics, and they buried him in one of the churches he loved. Today, he is the patron saint of the homeless. 3) Dorothy Day: In the 1920s, if you had to pick a woman who was the least likely candidate for sainthood, it would probably have been an anarchist and communist from Brooklyn named Dorothy Day. She worked as a journalist and spent many nights drinking with famous writers like Hart Crane and Eugene O’Neill. She had an abortion, and a brief marriage, before finally being drawn to Christ, and the gospel, and converting to Catholicism. Her conversion led her to embark on a radical ministry to the poor, one that is still changing the world. She is now a candidate for sainthood. Late in her life, people called her a living saint. “Don’t call me a saint,” she once said. “I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”( https://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/dare-to-be-something-more-homily-for-all-saints-day/) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) Pekapoo puppy: William Hinson recalls the time when his children were younger, and one child’s pet died. Dr. Hinson says that he practiced “replacement therapy.” When one pet died it was replaced by another pet. One time his youngest daughter Cathy’s cat died. Together they went to find another pet. Cathy selected a tiny peekapoo puppy. When they got home Dr. Hinson agreed to build a doghouse for the new pet to live in. “The only kind of dog I knew very much about was a really big bird dog,” he recalls, “so when I built the doghouse, I built a very large house.” In fact, the house was too large for the small dog. The size of the doghouse scared the little peekapoo puppy. No matter what they did the little dog would not go near the doghouse. In disgust, Dr. Hinson went inside, and sat down in the den while his daughter, Cathy, stood outside crying over her dad’s impatience and the refusal of her puppy to cooperate. After a while, Cathy got down on her hands and knees and crawled into the doghouse herself. When she crawled into it something wonderful happened. That little puppy trotted right in beside her and stretched out on the doghouse floor. Before too long the dog was taking a nap. All the shadows now stood still for him, and all the fear was taken out of the darkness, because the one whom he loved and trusted had preceded him into that dark and frightening place. It no longer caused him fear. [William H. Hinson. Triumphant Living in Turbulent Times (Nashville: Dimensions for Living, 1993), pp. 119-120.] There’s a lesson here for us. We can surrender our wills to God’s will, knowing that God loves us. Wherever He leads us, He will be with us. We don’t have to enter dark doghouses alone. Saints trust in God and God alone. Saints submit their will to God’s will. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) “Never forget what this cross means:” When Margaret Helminski was seven, she received a gift from her grandmother. It was a tiny cross on a wisp of gold chain, so fine its weight was barely perceptible. “Never forget what this cross means,” her grandmother said as she fastened it carefully around Margaret’s neck. Over the years, Margaret says, that cross became a part of her, like the lone freckle on her left cheek. She could look at herself in the mirror and not even see it. As a graduate psychology student, Margaret took a job tutoring at a school for emotionally disturbed children. Suddenly surrounded by children who expressed their displeasure by kicking, biting, and screaming, she was terrified, though determined not to let it show. On her first night there, the head counselor said that three of the boys had asked to escort her to dinner. Alone! How would she handle it if all three decided to act out at once? She swallowed hard. She desperately needed this job so she fought back the panic and walked with her charges to the dining hall. They passed through the cafeteria line as tantrums and fights erupted around them. Fortunately, none of her boys exhibited any kind of behavioral outburst. They made their way to a table in the center of the busy cafeteria and the boys took their seats. Margaret picked up her fork and was about to take the first bite when she noticed that all three boys were staring at her. “What’s the matter?” she asked. Aren’t you going to ask a blessing?” asked eight-year-old Peter. “I didn’t think I was supposed to,” she responded. “This is a state school, isn’t it?” “Yes,” said David, his blue eyes brimming, “but you wear a cross.” Her grandmother’s words surged to the surface of her memory. “Never forget what this cross means,” her grandmother said. “We thought that meant something,” said Roman, clearly disappointed. “It does. Thank you for reminding me,” Margaret said, as she bowed her head, no longer afraid. [Catholic Digest (Feb. 92), p. 64] Margaret learned something about sainthood that day. Saints trust in God and God alone for their ultimate security. Saints submit their will to the will of God. Saints stand firm and witness to their Faith. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) Is your definition of a saint a nice person who abides by all the rules? Francis of Assisi bears the title of Saint but according to Mark Galli, in an article in Christianity Today, Francis wasn’t always a nice guy to be around. For example, he had this thing about money: his friars were not to touch it. And he did not mean the, “You can touch money but just don’t let it grip your heart,” stuff. One day a worshiper at the Church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, Francis’s headquarters, left a coin as an offering at the base of the sanctuary cross. This was a common offering of gratitude to God in that day, but when one of Francis’ friars saw the money, disturbed by its presence at the cross, or perhaps knowing Francis’s revulsion of money he tossed it over to a window sill. When Francis learned the friar had touched money, he did not take the errant brother aside, explain his point of view, and then hug him so as to be sure there were no hard feelings. Instead, Francis rebuked and upbraided the brother. He then commanded him to lift the money from the window sill with his lips, find a pile of donkey dung outside, and with his lips place the coin in the pile. Was that nice? How could a saint be so nasty? Is he an exception to the larger guild of saints? Actually, when compared to the hundreds of stories of saints that can be culled from the Bible and Church history, Francis was merely fulfilling his job description. [“Saint Nasty,” Christianity Today (June 17, 1996), pp. 25-28.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5) Sainthood is not for weaklings! A traveler reported a sign on the wall of a restaurant in Wyoming, “If you find your steak tough, walk out quietly. This is no place for weaklings.” Sainthood is not for weaklings! [John Bardsley. Quote is from Emphasis (Nov/Dec 1993), p. 21.] Felix Adler put it like this: “The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.” [Quoted in Daily Guideposts (1996).] Saints are people we look up to. They are people of integrity who will stand their ground regardless of the standard the world may set. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) Saints are people of integrity: Though his name might not be well known today, in 1972 and 1973 Stan Smith was known throughout the world for being the best of the best in the world of tennis. But many of those who knew of his athletic prowess were unaware that Stan Smith was also a Christian, a gracious, friendly man, and a person of integrity. Stan Smith was good friends with another man of great character and integrity, Arthur Ashe. One year, Arthur and Stan were competing against one another in the World Champion of Tennis competition. The winner would gain instant fame and a great deal of money. The two men were well matched in skill, and the score was tied at match point. Arthur hit a very tricky drop shot that just barely cleared the net. To the crowd’s amazement, Stan caught the shot and returned it in time, winning the game. But the umpires were not convinced that Stan had hit a legitimate shot. If the ball were “up,” still in play, then Stan won the match. But if the ball had bounced twice before Stan reached it, then his hit was illegitimate, and Arthur won the match. The angle and nature of the shot made it almost impossible to see it clearly. Review of the videotape didn’t provide a conclusive answer. Neither the umpire, nor Arthur Ashe had a clear view of the ball. According to the rules of tennis, the umpire asked Stan if the ball had been up when he hit it. He replied that it had been. Stan won. A minor controversy arose over this matter, and Arthur Ashe was asked many times why he had not contested the call in some way. Arthur answered, “If Stan says it was up, it was up.” He believed in the integrity of his friend so much that he trusted his honesty in a close situation. [Bob Briner, Lambs Among Wolves (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), p.124-126.] As far as I know Stan Smith is not a candidate for sainthood. But he did bear one of the characteristics. His words and his actions were one. Sainthood is a lifestyle. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) Monumental statues of West Point Military Academy: West Point Military Academy just up the Hudson River from New York City, has a beautiful campus. The style of architecture is military Gothic, the grounds are well-groomed and immaculate, and the views of the Hudson River valley can be breathtaking, especially during autumn, when the leaves are changing color. Among the most impressive aspects of the campus decoration are the monumental bronze statues of famous West Point graduates. All the great American generals are there, in one form or another: McArthur, Eisenhower, Grant… The statues are placed in conspicuous locations, and each hero is depicted in uniform, in a posture that expresses his greatness. They serve as a constant reminder to the young cadets that they are called to greatness, to self-sacrifice, to do worthwhile deeds of valor for the sake of their homeland. For us Catholic Christians, our heroes are not military or political. Rather, they are those who have done great deeds of valor for the sake of our eternal homeland: The Kingdom of Christ, the Church. They have not necessarily received exceptional natural talent from God, developing and using that talent energetically, responsibly, and courageously, as military and political heroes have. Rather, they are the ones who have let God tend the garden of their souls, as the First Reading puts it. They welcomed God’s grace through the Sacraments, prayer, and obedience to God’s will, as explained by the Church and a well-formed conscience. And as a result, truly supernatural virtues took root, grew, and bore fruit in their lives. And this is why images of the saints abound in Catholic churches and homes, just as those bronze statues decorate West Point. Keeping the saints in mind, studying and contemplating their example, can give direction, hope, and energy to our lives, just as the statues of great generals do for the West Point Cadets. (E- Priest) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8) Julius Caesar and St Ignatius Loyola: Julius Caesar, the founder of the Roman Empire, history’s most expansive and longest-lasting Empire, was a selfish, dissipated, mediocre government bureaucrat until he was 40 years-old. At that time, he was stationed in Spain. One day he was walking across the city center to his offices and he noticed a statue of Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian who had single-handedly conquered and ruled the entire Near East, from Greece to Turkey to Palestine to Egypt to Arabia to Afghanistan, all the way to India, before he was 33-years-old. For some reason, seeing the noble statue of that amazing man on that particular day made Julius Caesar think about what little he had done with his own life. And it was the beginning of his incomparable military and political career, one that helped forge the civilization we still enjoy. He needed an ideal to strive for, and he found it in Alexander that Great. As human beings, we all need an ideal to strive for; otherwise our lives stay mediocre. As Christians, we follow Christ as our Ideal, and the saints are the ones who show us how to do that most effectively. St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, began his remarkably fruitful spiritual journey while he was stuck in bed recovering from a second surgery following a cannonball wound. He had nothing to do but read, and the only books in the house were a biography of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. As he read, the thought came to him: “If St. Francis and St. Dominic did it, why can’t I?” And thus was born one of the most influential saints who ever walked the earth. He discovered God’s plan for him by studying the lives of the saints. We can do the same. (E- Priest). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) “How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” St. Polycarp lived about 200 years after the Christian church was founded. Polycarp was Bishop of the Church at Smyrna (in present-day Turkey). Persecution broke out in Smyrna, and many Christians were fed to the wild beasts in the arena. The bloodthirsty crowd would not be satisfied until they had killed the leader of the Christian Church and sent a search party to find him. Polycarp was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt alive.” But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgement to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish.” It was as much a day of victory as it was a day of tragedy. Polycarp illustrated the power of knowing Jesus, intimately enough to follow Him into the flames. As Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
10) “A saint is somebody that the light shines through.” Here is a children’s story. The pastor was explaining the pictures of his Church’s stained glass windows to the third graders. The first stained window is really red, the next window is really blue, the next window is really green, and the next window is really yellow. The sun has come up in the south and wonderful light is coming through these four windows. The pastor says, “This first window with all the reds is dedicated to St. Matthew and it has a picture of St. Matthew on it. The second window with all the blues is dedicated to St. Mark and it has a picture of St. Mark, the second of our Gospels. The third window with all the greens is dedicated to St. Luke and has a picture of St. Luke on it. The fourth window with all the yellows is dedicated to St. John and has a picture of St. John in it. All the windows are so beautiful, especially with the sunlight shining through them.” And one of the little girls says, “Do you know what a saint is?” “Yes,” replied the pastor. “A saint is somebody that the light shines through.” Yes, the light of God shines through the lives of the saints. It is not your light that is shining; it is the light of God shining through your lives. The windows sparkle and inspire your lives. . (Rabbi Edward F. Markquart). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) Saints inspire us to become better Christians: Their lives inspire you and lift you up to be better people. A saint doesn’t say, “I want you to be a Christian. I am going to try to subtly force you to be a Christian. I am going to drag you to Church today.” No. By the nature of their lives, these saints inspire you to be holy. Let me explain by means of a famous example from the lives of Dr. David Livingston and Henry Stanley. Dr. David Livingston was a famous missionary in Africa and he had been there in the heart of Africa and had disappeared into the jungles. Henry Stanley went on a search for Dr. Livingston after he had long disappeared. Henry Stanley, after a lengthy search, finally found Dr. Livingston and gave us a famous line from history. “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” The two men lived together for three months and sometime after that Henry Stanley wrote his memoirs and he said: “Dr. Livingston made me a Christian, and he didn’t even know he was doing it. He inspired me and didn’t even try to.” Saints inspire you to live a life of holiness. (Rabbi Edward F. Markquart). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) “But that’s the man you could be.” A story is told of a traveling portrait painter who stopped in a small village hoping to get some business. The town drunk — ragged, dirty and unshaved — came along. He wanted his portrait done and the artist complied. He worked painstakingly for a long time, painting not what he saw but what he envisioned beneath that disheveled exterior. Finally, he presented the painting to his customer. “That’s not me,” he shouted. The artist gently laid his hand on the man’s shoulder and replied, “But that’s the man you could be.” Today’s feast reminds us that we all can become saints. St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can, why can’t I?” (Al Carino). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) Little Way of the Little Flower: St. Therese was a young, sickly Carmelite contemplative. She was the apple of her father’s eye, but when she obtained permission to enter the convent at the age of 15, he happily brought her there. As a contemplative, she did not do anything extraordinary. Like the rest, she followed the daily and ordinary routine of the monastery. But there was something special in her. She did the ordinary in an extraordinary way. How? By doing them out of a single motive — love for God — and whatever she did, she presented to her Beloved as little flower offerings. She called her way of doing little things out of love for God her “Little Way.” She died of tuberculosis, September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. She was beatified April 29, 1923 and canonized a saint May 17, 1925, just 28 years after her death, by Pope Pius XI. In 1927 he named her co-patron of the missions with St. Francis Xavier. In 1998, Pope St. John Paul II added one more title, Doctor of the Church, and two years later made her patroness of the 2000 Jubilee Year celebrations, because of her writings on her “Little Way,” that is, the doing of the ordinary in an extraordinary way. (Wikipedia). To be this kind of a saint, we do not have to do anything extraordinary. Rather, we just do ordinary things. But what is asked of us is to do these ordinary things in an extraordinary way — for love of God. (Al Carino). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14) Halloween is the ultimate holiday of “pretending.” On Halloween we dress up and “pretend” to be someone or something other than ourselves. On Halloween we “pretend” to believe that the people jumping out at us and scaring us in the “haunted houses” we paid $25 to get into are monsters and zombies. On Halloween we happily “pretend” that the scariest stuff in life are those things that “go bump in the night.” On Halloween we revel in “pretend” bumps instead of bumping into the terrifying realities of evil and cruelty that appear on any street, in any office, at any school, in broad daylight, on any given day – and that’s just a rundown of the terrors of the last two weeks. The day after “All Hallows Eve” is known in the liturgical calendar as “All Saints Day.” “All Saints” is a celebration and commemoration of those who were never about pretense, but who devoted their lives to expressing true faithfulness and genuine piety. The Church lives, not by the majesty of its beliefs but by the manifestation of its manifold witness through the magnificence of its “Communion of Saints.” (Fr. Tony Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) In their footsteps: St Jerome says in his writings that as a boy he and his friends used to play in the catacombs. Centuries after St Jerome, Roman boys still play in the catacombs. One day a group of boys was wandering through the maze of tunnels. Suddenly their only flashlight gave out. The boys were trapped in total darkness with no idea of the way out. They were on the verge of panic when one boy felt a smooth groove in the rock floor of the tunnel. It turned out to be a path that had been worn smooth by the feet of thousands of Christians in the days of the Roman persecutions. The boys followed in the footsteps of these saints of old and found their way out of the darkness into sunlight and safety.
(Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quote by Fr. Tony Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
16) All that is necessary to be a saint is …: Thomas Merton was one of the most influential American Catholic authors of the twentieth century. Shortly after he was converted to Catholicism in the late 1930s, Thomas Merton was walking down the streets of New York with a friend, Robert Lax. Lax was Jewish, and he asked Thomas what he wanted to be, now that he was Catholic. “I don’t know.” Merton replied, adding simply that he wanted to be a good Catholic. Lax stopped him in his tracks. “What you should say,” he told him, “is that you want to be a saint!” Merton was dumbfounded. “How do you expect me to be a saint?” Merton asked him. Lax said: “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be, if you consent to let him do it? All you have is to desire it.” Thomas Merton knew his friend was right. (John Payappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
17) God’s Noblest Creation –The Saints: In the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, under the commanding mosaic of Christ in glory, are six pillars. Atop each is a statue of a Saint. There, side-by-side, are the figures of a queen (St. Elizabeth), a vagrant (St. Benedict Joseph Labre), a cook (St Zita), a doorman (St. Conrad), a Mystic (St Gemma), and a parish priest (St John Vianney). For some of them, the road to holiness was easy, for others very hard. Some saints had gifts of great natural talent; others seemed devoid of it. Some saints were fiery, others gentle. Some were gregarious, others loners. There are old saints (such as St. Anthony of the Desert, who lived to be 105) and young saints (such as Aloysius Gonzaga and Maria Goretti). There were brilliant saints (such as Thomas Aquinas) and dense saints (such as Joseph Cupertino). There were tough saints (such as Teresa of Avila) and emotional saints (such as Therese of Lisieux). There were innocent saints (such as Dominic Savio) and reformed sinners who became saints (such as Augustine). There are also saints who did not always agree with each other, such as Jerome and Augustine, who had a running battle of words for years. Nevertheless, the saints belong together. They all responded to God’s invitation to sainthood commemorated in today’s liturgy.
(Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks –Listen! Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18) Street sweeper can become a saint, how? Six months before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967. Part of his “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” speech is the tale of the street sweeper. It is inspiration that regardless of what we do we should always aspire to be the best we can at what we do. It is the secret of living saintly lives as well. “If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” (Martin Luther King) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
19) Saint in Heaven saving his child: “Her husband had died a few years before, and she had a young son who was born just before his father’s death. One day when her son was at a neighbor’s house, she suddenly sensed her husband was speaking to her. He seemed to be telling her that their son was drowning in a swimming pool. She ran next door to the neighbor’s and found her son drowning in the pool, exactly as she sensed her husband telling her. She pulled her son out of the pool, just in time to save his life. Why does this story move us so deeply? A story about a child’s life being saved is certainly moving, but this story contains something more. A dead father is still there for his child, at the moment when he is needed most.” [Matthew & Denis Linn and Sheila Fabricant, Healing the Greatest Hurt (Paulist Press), p. 144.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) Honoring great people: Showing honor is a natural human response to the goodness, even the greatness, of another human being. We honor the founders and other leaders of our country from throughout history. We name cities after them, write books about them, make statues of them to erect in public places. We paint pictures of them to display in schools and government buildings. We speak reverently and gratefully of them on patriotic holidays. We do similar things for great scientists, great leaders of social movements, great artists and musicians. Why? Because it’s a matter of justice to recognize their gifts and contributions to us. Justice means giving to each his due. We recognize that we owe much to these great human beings, and we want to say so in different ways. In all the ways we venerate these great men and women, we are giving them honor. And so we shouldn’t be surprised that the Catholic Church venerates the great heroes of the Faith, who over the centuries have embodied in an extraordinary manner the way of life to which we’re called as Christians. Now that these men and women have been perfected by God and are saints standing face to face with Him in heaven, we have even more reason to venerate them. (https://www.osv.com/MyFaith/ModelsoftheFaith/Article/TabId/684/ArtMID/13728/ArticleID/15445/What-Is-the-Communion-of-Saints.aspx) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
21) Fable of water bugs turned to dragon fly: There was once a colony of water bugs living below the surface of a quiet pond. The bugs spent many months scurrying around in the silt at the bottom of the pond, and from time to time they noticed that one of their friends would grab hold of a pond lily stem and gradually move out of sight and weren’t ever seen again. Those left behind would wait and wait, but their friends never came back. They wondered where their friend had gone, and made a deal, the next one to climb up a stalk would come back and tell the others where they went and why. Then one spring day one of them found himself climbing up a lily stalk, suddenly he found himself on the surface, sitting on the leaf of the lily pad that he’d only ever seen from underneath. He was tired from the climb, so he went to sleep on the lily pad, when he woke up he was startled by the change he noticed in his body, he shook himself and realized he had four beautiful wings and a long tail. The warm sun dried him off and flapped his wings, suddenly he was in the air above the water, he looked at his reflection and realized that he had become a magnificent dragonfly. He found himself swooping and flitting around loving the new atmosphere he had found himself in.
When it was time to take a rest, he landed on a lily pad again. When he did, he looked over the edge and could see all of the water bugs running around at the bottom of the pond and he remembered his promise to go back and tell them where he’d gone and why. He flew up into the air and tried to dive down through the surface of the water, but he just bounced off. He couldn’t go back into the water. He realized that if he did go back, his friends wouldn’t recognize him anyway! He decided he would just have to wait for them to come up to him instead, knowing that they would understand when they came too. So he flew off to enjoy his new found freedom. While this might just be a fable, we can use this story in much the same way as Jesus told parables to explain difficult concepts to the people who gathered to listen to him. As a parable it tells us how hard it for us while in this life to understand what happens when we die. We would love someone to come back from the dead and tell us exactly what it’s like to die and what it’s like on the other side of death. This little story does a great job explaining that those who die have passed to a place that none of the water bugs could ever dream of; far greater than the lowly existence on the bottom of the pond; a place worth going to because there is freedom that has never been experienced before. Just as the water bug was changed from a lowly creature to a magnificent dragonfly so also the change that we will experience when we arrive in heaven will be even more amazing – something that we can’t even begin to imagine at this moment.
This little fable reminds us that our life in this world is limited. We scurry here and there at a furious pace just like the water bugs, then one day our turn will come, and we too will walk along the lily stem of death to a new life, our earthly bodies will change; we will be free of all that bothers us now. At this present time we live in a world which is focused on turning life at the bottom of the pond into paradise and trying ever so hard to blot out any notion that the paradise we are creating is temporary and limited. We can’t imagine a time when we won’t wake up in our own bed or walk in our favorite part of the garden or sit in our favorite chair with our feet up in front of the tellie or play a round of golf. We can’t imagine a world where there is no football, no shopping malls, no going off to work and no more visits to the doctor. All of these are part of life on the bottom of the pond. That’s not to say we can’t be happy as I’m sure water bugs on the bottom of the pond were but life in the pond can also be very distressing and depressing. As good as all these things are in our self-made paradise, there is something far better yet to come. As Christians, we look ahead to the day when we will enter the place where God is. The Bible says this, “Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear” (1 Peter 1:3,4 CEV). (Rev. Vince Gearhardy). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
22) Egocentric heaven versus real heaven: Indeed, many people today have rather egocentric notions of Heaven. Heaven is a place where I will be happy, where I will see my family, where I will take leisure. I will ave my mansion; I will no longer get sick; I can play all the golf I want, etc. Heaven is a “better place.” But this better place is generally understood in very personal terms; it’s a kind of “designer Heaven.” But Heaven is what it is, not what we conceive it to be. As for the real Heaven, the heart of it is being with God, looking upon His glorious face and thereby having all our inexpressible longings satisfied. In Heaven, the saints behold the glorious face of God and rejoice. It is their joy to praise Him and to rejoice in His truth, goodness, and beauty. (Msgr. Charles Pope). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 57) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website- http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604