A blessed and Happy Feast of All Saints and All Souls. The Church has done a marvelous thing in linking these two commemorations, showing us the straight line between the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the Saints in Heaven. Yesterday in my parish we offered two particularly beautiful Masses. First our children sang Gregorian Chant at the school Mass, having been trained all week by the renowned Mary Ann Carr-Wilson. She taught the first diocesan school Chant Camp of its kind in California. Teachers and staff have been keeping their windows and doors open all week to catch the ethereal tones of what sound like angels. The second extraordinary All Saints liturgy was a Solemn High Mass with our superb adult choir, at which we welcomed Fr. Cassian from the Contemplatives of St. Joseph as subdeacon. Excellence is possible in the Church’s sacred liturgy, but it takes time and money. On Tuesday night we also welcomed the Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, who spoke on the sacred liturgy from his many years as Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. Dedicated parishioners prepared a first-class dinner for him and twelve priests from the Archdiocese, including our Nigerian fathers, in a fraternal and instructive convivium following his talk. What a wonderful parish we have!
This week brought our month of the Holy Rosary to an end, but as October waned I gave a retreat to a hundred deacons and wives in the Diocese of Fresno. These honest men and women, simply faithful to the Church and dedicated to Our Lord and Our Lady, gave me so much joy and hope. Our retreat centered on the history and message of Our Lady of Fatima. She began on July 13, 1917 by showing the children a vision of hell. Portraying these horrors to anyone is strong medicine but imagine showing this to six and seven-year-old’s. Why did she do it? They had to know that hell is real. Many souls are lost, their mother told them, because no one prays for them. But six months later, in October 1917, she showed them a vision of heaven, assuring the three children that their souls were safe, and the souls of their family and friends would safe if everyone prays and offers sacrifices for each other. In that apparition, just three days before the Bolshevik revolution established history’s first government to outlaw religion, she revealed her name, “Our Lady of the Rosary.” The month of the Holy Rosary is over, and the month of All Saints has begun. Let us aim for nothing less than heaven, bending all our efforts in this life to one day take our place with God and his saints in the life of the world to come.
Fr. Joseph Illo
Star of the Sea Parish,