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Feast of All Saints 2007

 

Parents speak to children and repeat and confirm until they are blue in the face and the kids still fail to pick up their things around the house or do their chores or share or...fill in the blank. On a daily basis, parents have to patiently repeat in the hopes that some day it will all "sink in" and the kids will finally "get it." Yet somehow an hour or 90 minutes a week is all the children need to focus on their final destination: Heaven. Ridiculous. With the Solemnity of All Saints, parents and grandparents, godparents and aunts and uncles and Priests...all should re-double the point of the saints - that they always strive to be young men and women "FOR  OTHERS."

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The text for All Saints Day 2005 and 2006 can be found in the archives

Feast of All Saints 2007

Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
All Saints Day
November 1, 2007

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me; rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in Heaven.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

Today is the Feast of All Saints, the destination that you and I should aspire for; and on this day in 1950, to underline that Pope Pius XII formally declared and defined the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the belief that she is Queen of All Saints and Queen of Heaven and earth; how fitting on this day in 1950 for this to be formally brought to the attention of the world because we don’t think of Heaven or we don’t think of Heaven as we should. If every decision and thought were based on helping us to get closer to Heaven or drawing us away from Heaven, then, we would understand.

Last Sunday I mentioned that something happened in Rome that has never before happened in the history of the Church. Four hundred ninety eight priests and nuns, men and women, boys and girls were beatified, which is the step taken just before canonization. The ceremony was the largest beatification of a group of people at one time. Of course, they are all from Spain and it is hard to believe that Catholic Spain would be killing religious and clergy, men and women, boys and girls because they were Catholic. Catholic Spain? Yes, in the 1930s following the example of the 1920s when our neighbor to the south did exactly the same in great numbers. Mexico did exactly the same thing.

“Am I really hearing this? Have I fallen asleep at one of Fr. Paul’s homilies this early and I’m dreaming?”

If you are, it isn’t a dream; it is history all right. We should look at what happened a five-minute walk away from St. Peter’s Basilica. I know, many of the children are saying,

“Mom…dad…what is walking?”

We drive everywhere right?

“Well, dear, walking is something that people used to do hundreds of years ago…get in the car!”

Right? Anyway, five minutes away from St. Peter’s on Sunday there was a great and angry protest logged in front of the Church, St. Eugenio, because they were saying that the 498 people who were beatified were merely part of the political machine of Francisco Franco, who was the dictator in Spain for decades. They were imposing political terms on to this canonization process. Granted, there are politics in the Church. People say that you cannot separate politics and the Church. Exactly, and Christ didn’t design it that way. The reason there are politics in the Church is because of our fallen human nature and not because Christ said that it needs to be there. Anyway, these protestors were saying that the 498 who died were just pawns in the machine of the dictator. This is of course wrong, but, the protest went foreword. Fortunately, for us the Pope was still beatifying those 498 from so many backgrounds.

The Church shows us how in every way and in every age God is calling us to Heaven, but, we don’t pay attention. Now, parents and grandparents pull out their hair on a daily basis because their children and grandchildren won’t pay attention. One of the prime examples of this is when I was a kid. We lived just 2 blocks from school and when we got older we were able to walk home from school. We were always together, my brother, two older sisters, and I would walk home together, and we had specific instructions for what to do when we arrived home. These instructions were reinforced every day. My dad would say:

“ When you get home take off your uniform, get a snack, do your chores and homework, and THEN you can go outside to play.”

And then there was the ever-present…

“And no fighting!”

He had to be like that with my brother and two sisters. [Laughter] My parents would drop us off at the school in the morning and we would get the same instructions I already stated. We would think to ourselves:

“ It is so difficult living under this Communist oppression, under this difficult tyranny of our parents. Do they think we are ignorant? Don’t they know that we heard them already?”

We recognized that we were indeed facing a martyrdom just living there with our parents. So, we would go to school, walk home, go into the house, fix a snack, and then we would play and fight…mostly fight over who was going to do the chores and we rarely got them done. Homework? Are you kidding? Then, all of us froze while doing whatever we were doing or not doing at the moment when we heard the wheels of my dad’s car pulling into the driveway. We all had the same look of terror that we had every day because we had not followed the instructions. Mom and Dad would come in the house and they got mad because my brother and two sisters had been fighting or had not done their chores. I, of course, always completed mine and was working to help them. Yeah right! You have fallen asleep. [Laughter]

Now parents you reinforce this, you drill this into the children and they still don’t get it, I have to say, we re-enacted that scenario again and again, and fortunately my parents were patient and persistent. Tie this in with Heaven.

“Well, we told the kids about Heaven the other day. When was it? Was it two weeks ago? That’s right, I think we mentioned Heaven to them.”

It is like something as obvious as chores and the other things I mentioned, we don’t consider that it goes in one ear and out the other, and that we are dealing with children. I remember when I was in the first grade and I graduated from first grade and went to the second grade. I cherish those four years I spent in first grade and moved on to second grade. [Laughter] there was a bookcase in second grade and it was filled with books about the lives of the saints. We had to check them out one at a time. There was a boy section and a girl section and the girl section was always perfectly organized for some reason. We would read these fascinating books about the boy and girl saints and these were so great that once we got through with one book we ran for the next one.

Kids do not study the saints or Heaven, but, most kids just look at the stars. Oh, I don’t mean the constellations, but I mean the STARS in sports, in Hollywood, or the stars in what passes as music today.

“Well, my little Suzie and Johnnie can write every four letter word in the newest song.”

Is that something you should brag about? They know every detail about this star or that star and their sad lives that pass for existence. One thing is sure and that is while concentrating on the stars they are not raising their hearts and minds to Heaven.

In this Gospel today Our Lord says very specifically to us

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

These Beatitudes are so beautiful, and as we hear them we have to really fight the temptation that we are listening and are already living these. Sometimes what goes on when we hear these Beatitudes is that we break our arms patting ourselves on the back because we are already living these. It is kind of like what we heard on Sunday with the Pharisee and the tax collector. To live these Beatitudes is like living the Commandments. Some people think of the Ten Commandments as the “Ten Suggestions”. No, they are Commandments and we should be living the Ten Commandments and living according to these Beatitudes. Children may ask what a Beatitude is…

“Be quiet Suzie and change the channel”

That is probably going to be the response they will get by many parents. Children need to be taught about Heaven and it is something that we can’t take for granted.

Heaven is about adoption. Recently, some friends came back from another country. They went there and adopted two children from that country. After almost ten months it was great to have them back home. That is a long time. The recent movie that was released, Bella, is about adoption. Yes, it is about a woman who wants to have an abortion, but does not. You should go this weekend and see the movie if you have not seen it yet. It really is about adoption. When the woman in question tells her friend that she is with child she tells him she just can’t go through with it. He asks her why she doesn’t give the baby up for adoption, but she thinks it is impossible. If you believe that people today understand adoption, then, in most cases you would be wrong. Many people see adoption as something cruel and abortion is seen as the kind way out of a difficult situation.

Today’s Solemnity is all about adoption. Christ is the Son of God, but not by adoption. By his very nature He is the Son of God. By Christ becoming true God and true Man, He makes it possible for us to become His brothers and sisters. Didn’t Jesus say,

Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?

They are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice. Again, follow the Commandments and live the Beatitudes.

There are many people, who are from large cities in Texas, and some probably look down on a county the size of ours, or a town the size of ours. They see them as insignificant, and yet from Hunt County the most highly decorated veteran from WWII is from here and his name is Audie Murphy. The museum on I-30 kind of guilds a lily, making you think that he was from Greenville. He is not from Greenville, but from Hunt County, which Greenville is a part of. But, the most highly decorated veteran in all of WWII came from this little county of all the counties in the USA. If you tell this to your children they are going to ask what a county is.

Audie Murphy was a man for others. He left his family and home and went halfway across the world, where they kept giving him medal after medal, which he probably appreciated and thought to himself:

“Maybe all these medals will stop a bullet if I go into battle?”

He came back home and was very humble about all that had happened to him. He was a man for others because he went into the battle thinking of the people back home. Hunt County should be proud in every way of this local and loyal son. People don’t study Audie Murphy.

“Yes, I heard he was seven feet tall like Paul Bunyan and Fr. Paul.”

I am not even seven feet tall standing up here, and I think Audie Murphy was my height or maybe even a bit shorter. What he accomplished still amazes those who study him.

Getting back to children, and this is really directed at parents and grandparents. If you take a child’s picture with a digital camera they want to see immediately. Now, if you ask them who they are looking at first they will sometimes tell you the truth. They look for their own picture first. Children think that the world began the day they were born and so when people go to family reunions and hear about Aunt Sophie and Uncle Burt, the kid grumbles because they never met these people, they get bored and want to leave. Children seem so bored about many things. Then the parent points to the bored child and says,

“Remember when you were born, it was Aunt Sophie that brought the largest plant to the hospital.”

All of a sudden the child wants to stay because now they are talking about them and they are basking in the glow. From that point on every cat this child gets will be named Sophie, right? Or,

“Uncle Burt loved you so much and you look just like him.”

Again, the same thing happens, because when a child starts to hear about the relatives and how much they loved them then all of a sudden there is a connection.

The Book of Revelation describes Heaven and the saints in Heaven. The saints are our adopted brothers and sisters in Heaven; they are adopted through Christ Himself. As we read in the Readings today, they are worshipping God and are praying for us. It would enrich us to learn about them. How many children are named for saints? I know of fewer and fewer today. Those who are named for saints, how many never investigate that saint and don’t even know their feast day. When someone tells me his or her birthday I will immediately mention the saint whose day falls on the birthday of that person. Many times the person will say, “What?” We are speaking a different language because children don’t study the saints and because they don’t study the saints they are not fascinated, and then the world says,

“Come right here to me and I will comfort you.”

Get away!

My mother didn’t have to call me and tell me that today was November 1st and on this day in 1939 that my Aunt Mary was born. If she’d lived, today would be her birthday. I only have one aunt on either side of my family, but I tell you now that God gave me two of the sweetest aunts. One is named for Our Lady and one is named for St. Joseph; her name is Josephine. How many people know that Aunt Joe was born on March 19th and Aunt Mary was born on All Saints Day? Unless it impacts us somehow we have no clue. But, I love my aunts so much I learned their birthdays. That part about 1939…you didn’t hear that! [Laugher]

If the saints fascinate us, then we want to learn more and we begin to ask their help. The only thing separating us from the saints is first of all, our laziness and time. In Heaven there is no time. The Feast of All Saints has to be celebrated, because where they have gone we hope to follow, but somehow we think that the life that we are living in right now is torture, and that God is the source of that torture.

“My life is difficult; I have aches and pains’ I have problems and it is God’s fault.”

How do you explain this, the Crucifix? There was a saint crucified right next to Jesus and his name was St. Dismas, who was a thief. He wasn’t crucified because he was a saint, but because he was a thief. He is referred to as the thief who stole Heaven. He was crucified next to Jesus, and by some gift of grace that God extended to him, that at the last moment of life he recognized that Jesus was the Son of God; and he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom. Jesus told him that this day he would be with Him in Paradise. I know what you are thinking.

“Fr. Paul, my kids know all this!”

It is right out of the Bible. It is not like it is in the writing on the Life of St. Francis.

“I just love St. Francis!”

Well, have you read anything on his life? Don’t read anything recent; go back at least 50 years before you read something on him otherwise it is like reading a Helen Steiner Rice greeting card. It may sound nice, but it won’t do you any good in informing you about the real life of St. Francis.

Children need to be captivated about the prospect of Heaven so that they can be boys and girls, young men and women, men and women who are for others, like Audie Murphy. Evidentially, he was raised well. I don’t know much about him except that he was raised well, because he was a man for others, and so it is with our children and grandchildren. I know, I know…we don’t have time to teach our children because we come home from work or school, we hit our chores and do our homework. Uh uh, no…

”What is on TV tonight?”

We eat dinner in front of the TV, which is always on and this is pouring right into our homes and minds. We are so distracted that we don’t think of Heaven.

On the Sermon on the Mount all Jesus talks about is “blessed”, which is code for “those who are in Heaven”. In fact, He is saying that if we live His Commandments, if we listen to His Word, and put it into practice, Heaven is on earth. At every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even if we aren’t paying attention, Our Lady, the angels, and all the saints are present adoring Jesus in the Tabernacle or at the Altar during the Consecration.

“I can’t see them!”

Well, I can’t see Mexico from here, but I know it is there, and by the eyes of faith and from studying, I know that what I have said is true. A piece of Heaven comes down to us here and as Catholics we can receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord. Heaven is on earth, in my soul and heart. We recognize that Heaven enters our souls and our hearts to transform us, like the prayer says that I have provided for you in the bulletin, written by the Pope. We have to really emphasize this again and again. Many times we see no benefit from this in our children, and then 30 or 40 years later when they come to you and thank you for teaching them about St. Francis or St. Anne or whoever.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me; rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in Heaven.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

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