"The saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly…. Looking at the shining example of the saints to reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God’s friends."
These “friends of God” live in perfect harmony with all that is good, true, and beautiful, and where they have gone, we hope to follow. The Judeo-Christian perspective is always forward, as in the mottos of St. Junipero Serra (“siempre adelante!”) and St. Piergiorgio Frassati (“verso l’alto!”). I think today’s regnant “progressivism” —belief in a “future” that is always better than the present (and certainly superior to the past)—comes from the Bible. “Progressives” implicitly believe that technology will continue to improve our lives, that politics will always get smarter, and that the economy will expand indefinitely. We assume that Tomorrowland will look like the Jetsons—smooth and sleek and smart. Even though setbacks like World War I, the race riots of the 60s, and the Covid pandemic throw the Doctrine of Progress into doubt, we keep hoping that new technologies, improved medicines, and more progressive politics will overcome these problems.
Where did the Western World come up with this Doctrine of Progress, this inherent belief that human history is a trajectory of constant improvement? From Moses and Jesus, of course. Moses pointed the way forward (literally, through the Red Sea to the Promised Land), preparing the way for the Messiah. The Messiah came, but He himself said only that He was the “way” to the Father, to our final destiny in heaven. So Jews and Christians do not say “life’s a bitch and then you die,” but “life’s a gift and then you go to heaven.” It is with that joyful expectation that we enter November, a month of dreary weather but bright anticipation of a better future. Our future is with God, and we must apply our energies to attaining that luminous summit.
Wednesday is the fortieth day of my mother’s death. She used to say, after I was ordained and often traveling the world to give retreats or explore new lands with my priest buddies, “I wish I could be a mouse in your pocket.” Well, now that she has passed through the thin veil between time and eternity, she is a mouse in my pocket. And I am a mouse in her pocket as she works her way through the landscape of purgatory toward the Land of Perfect Rest. We are in deeper communion with the saints than with our best friends and family on earth. I certainly feel much closer to my mother now that she has returned to God.
I will offer a Solemn High Requiem for her, with the help of Fathers Michael Rocha and Mark Wagner, at Star of the Sea this Wednesday at 6pm. I will have a dozen of my sister Camille’s book, Honey Sandwiches, about my mother’s life, as well as holy cards from her funeral Mass on October 1st. You are all welcome to attend my mother’s Requiem at our Shrine Church, Star of the Sea, on Wednesday at 6pm.