In Ireland, Father Kelly addressed his congregation one Sunday: “If you want to go to heaven, stand up. Slowly, one by one people began to stand. One man remained seated. Father Kelly said, “Reilly, do you mean to sit there and tell me you don’t want to go to heaven?” “Oh, no, Father. I thought you were leaving right away.”
“Everyone sit down,” continued Fr. Kelly. “Anyone who wants to go to hell stand up.” Very slowly, Reilly rose in the pew. “Reilly, now I know you’re daft,” said Father Kelly. “You mean to stand there and tell me you want to go to hell?” “Oh no, Father, but you looked so lonely standing by yerself.”
…. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there.
All life is precious: whether in the womb, in illness, or at old age. It doesn’t matter to God what our contribution to society may be. All of us are created in the image of God with an immortal soul. Our destiny is to know and love God and to live a life worthy of Him. Christ came to earth to show us the way to the Father, to teach us how to live and to die for our sins. By our baptism, you and I are born into the life of Christ and we are called to follow His example.
A popular expression today is YOLO, you only live once, but we know there is life after death. Eternal Life is a gift of God. After death, our souls continue and are rewarded or punished for the way we lived; one day our bodies will be resurrected to share in our souls’ reward. Faith in Christ is important, but we must also put that faith into action. Christ once said, “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will be saved, but only those who do the will of My Father.”
This month we celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ and we remember our loved ones who have died. We like to think of them as going to directly to heaven, yet we know that they were not perfect. Christ said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” The Catholic Church teaches that there is a state of being called Purgatory for those souls who have lived a good Christian life, but are not perfect. They can no longer pray for themselves, but they do offer prayers for their families and friends left behind. In turn, you and I pray for them, we light candles and have Masses said for them. Most churches remember them in all Masses this month.
There is a spiritual connection between them and us. Our love for one another continues even after death. This is what the Church means by the Communion of Saints.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
“The Communion of Saints is a Catholic doctrine that holds that the Body of Christ is ‘the spiritual union which joins together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heave’ in the organic union [Mystical Body] with Christ as its head and in a constant exchange of supernatural offices [offering prayers and acts of sacrifice for one another]. “
The Saints Triumphant- are those souls who are in Heaven (canonized and not canonized, e.g. Saints Peter, Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and Elizabeth). We ask the saints to intercede for us. We often pray to the saints to intercede for our needs- lost keys, our children’s safety, etc. The saints in turn pray to God on our behalf.
As I mentioned, The Saints Suffering- are the souls in purgatory. We pray for our loved ones who have died, asking for the forgiveness of their sins, and for their salvation. In turn, those souls pray for us, their loved ones left behind.
We are The Saints Militant- who try to live lives of grace and to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. Within the Church on earth, there is a shared exchange of examples and prayers. Between the Church on earth on one hand and purgatory and heaven on the other, there are works of charity, prayers, intercessions and adorations.”
All of us living and dead cooperate with each other for the glory of God and to bring God’s kingdom here and now and to enjoy God’s presence in heaven.
In November, we celebrated the Feast of ALL SAINTS. Do you personally know any saints? Are YOU a Saint? Yes, you are. You are part of the Church Militant. When I was growing up, I learned about the Communion of Saints, and in the Apostles Creed we say, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.”
As you well know, our struggle to bring about the Kingdom of God is not against mere flesh and blood, but against Satan and his fallen angels who want to increase their numbers by leading as many people away from God as possible.
The Church is like a great ship, bombarded and attacked by enemy vessels surrounding it- the media, materialism, Godless-government, secularism, and immorality, to name just a few.
A great battle is raging. The ship is damaged, but continues on its course. Nothing could be truer as, by the Holy Spirit, the course of the Church has been steadfast in these troubling days. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Nothing will deter the truth. The Church…intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of state and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses.” Vatican Mar. 20, 2006
As members of the Church Militant, you and I need to take our place in the battle to win souls for Christ and to change our world into His Kingdom.
PRAY on all occasions. BE ALERT….PRAY FOR ALL THE SAINTS.
We KNOW the power of prayer. Our world is in a terrible state. We have not seen such immorality or chaos since the fall of Rome. Some tell us that we are living in the end times. Jesus once asked, “When the Son of Man comes again, will He find any faith on the earth?” Only you and I can answer that question.
Time after time, in each of the appearances of the Blessed Mother, she begs us to pray for peace, for forgiveness, for mercy. “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.” On Ash Wednesday, we will hear the words, “Turn away from sin, be faithful to the Gospel.”
We know that Jesus has already won the victory. We have to bring as many of our friends, family and neighbors with us as we possibly can. Let us promise that each of us will PRAY and FAST with the Communion of Saints to win our struggle against the forces of evil and to bring about the Kingdom of God.