Posted by: mmreflections | June 8, 2013

Remembering All Saints May 2013

ALL SAINTS SUNDAY

In our Byzantine Catholic Churches we celebrate All Saints on the Sunday after the great feast of Pentecost.  Who are the saints we are commemorating on this very special Sunday?  We are remembering and honoring all those wonderful people who lived with great faith in God and  are known  only to a few but  clearly known by God.  They are our parents and grandparents who did the best they could in caring for us and teaching us about a compassionate  and  caring  God, they are the friends who came to our rescue in times of need and great challenges, they are the ones who made known to us the love of God.   They are the ones who had submitted their wills to God and who had sincerely committed themselves to follow as best they could the way that Jesus presented to us.  They strived to the best of their ability, with the gifts God had given them to pass on their faith to those who would follow them, and in so doing help to make our world a better place.

Many of us learned a great deal about faith while growing up in the hard coal regions of Pennsylvania, observing the faith of our parents and  grandparents along with the many immigrants who came to our country to make a better life for their children.  In the midst of adversity, they continued the struggle always believing that God was with them and would transform every tragedy into something good.

A major problem confronting our generation is a basic lack of trust in the mystery of God.  Many are afraid to submit to God’s will for us.  We are hesitant to put our trust and fate into the hands of a loving God.  We have become so “smart” that we need a rational explanation for everything.  We have an attitude that might be described by the words I have heard more than once, “If I can’t see it, I don’t believe it.” Some are just afraid to trust in any power other than their own.  We seem to be more willing to embrace the American macho attitude of being able to do everything on our own.  We even sing about it in the lyrics of an old song,  “I did it my way!”  When problems arise and we find ourselves hitting bottom, we easily fall  into despair and all the world seems dark.  Our fear in the darkness may lead us to the realization  that we need help or it may lead us into deeper despair.  This is a far cry from the trust of all the saints we commemorate on this Sunday who always trusted and believed “God is with us!”

What fears confront us?  St. Paul challenges us with this question in his letter to the Romans.   Who or what can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?   What are the  fears we might consider as we reflect upon the faith of the saints, the fears that can lead us into the abyss of darkness. that are challenging us today?  We all are confronted with personal fears and we need to pay attention to them.  We do not  have to be afraid to acknowledge them and to even make them known to those we trust.  They lose their power over us when we bring them out into the light.  Some more common fears that confront many of us are our:  fear of death; fear of weakness, inadequacy, lack of talent, failures, sins; loneliness, anxiety about the future, a difficult marriage; negative self-image and loss of reputation;  economic hardship, prejudice, street crime;  fear of rejection by loved ones;  fear regarding the suffering of our loved ones;  fear of persecution by authorities;  fear of lies and detractions leveled against us.

Jesus answer:  “Do not be afraid; I am with you!  I suffered all the things of which you are afraid!”  Again and again in the New Testament, Jesus tells us not to be afraid.  St. Paul’s answer, reflecting the teachings of Jesus:  “Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  How do we respond to this?  We must be convinced of this, trust it, and never forget to remember this lesson.  Everything else will pass  away.  Faith is what sustained all the saints who have gone before us. This faith and trust is what  we remember as we reflect on the lives of our own ancestors.  The love of God is stronger than death and endures forever.  We must make a conscious effort to remember this by paying attention to the thoughts that bombard us all the time; here we discover our real temptations.  A lesson passed on from an unknown spiritual writer has to do with what we allow into our thoughts and how we must seriously pay close attention to them.  We must guard our thoughts, for they determine  our words; we must guard our words, for they determine our actions; we must guard our actions, for they determine our habits:  we must guard our habits, for they determine our character;  OUR CHARACTER DETERMINES OUR DESTINY!    We are all called to be saints. The question for us today:  Do we want to become saints? Do we truly desire to fulfill the purpose for which we have been placed on this earth?  Do we want to be in their number when the Saints come marching in?  What is our destiny if we continue to live our lives as we are living them today?

Some of the saints who had made a profound impression on me and who served as guides for me on my life’s journey perceived our God, the Holy One, as the Compassionate One.  In times of trial and temptation, they always appealed to God as they understood God.  They knew in their hearts they could not continue in the struggle without a power greater than themselves.  “O Compassionate One, have pity on me?”  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  These prayers or similar ones seemed to be on their lips as effortlessly as taking their every breath.  In talking to my own mom during  the closing months of her life with us, she told me that when she prayed she had a sense that Jesus knew everything she was experiencing.  Her prayer was probably best described in this way:  “Jesus, compassionate one, have pity on me!”  His answer to her, ” I know what you are suffering; come to me and I will give you peace.”  She knew she needed God!  I believe she is numbered among the saints who come to my mind on this special day.  It might be good for each of us reading this reflection to call to mind the saints who made an impression on our lives.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is for us….his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2)

 

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Responses

  1. Hi Father Mike,

    Another wonderful reflection to ease our hearts and minds! Just a month or two ago I bought a book on the saints. Did you get my vibe?? I found it interesting that I’ve been reading my book and then to read your blog , how coincidental. I loved what you said about your mother; I have had those same thoughts about my mom as I’m sure many of us had. Hope you had a lovely Faher’s Day!

    God bless you for all your good works.
    Andrea


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