Monday, November 30, 2020



 Pope Francis on November 1 said: On this solemn Feast of All Saints, the Church invites us to reflect on the great hope, that is based on Christ’s Resurrection: Christ is risen and we will also be with him. The Saints and Blesseds are the most authoritative witnesses of Christian hope, because they lived it fully in their lives, amidst joys and sufferings, putting into practice the Beatitudes that Jesus preached and which resound in the Liturgy today (cf. Mt 5:1-12a). The evangelical Beatitudes, in fact, are the path to holiness. [1]

{The Church names many saints who will intercede for us in times of plague like this pandemic.[2]}

On November 2, Holy Souls Day, Pope Francis said: ……we ask the Lord to help us consider aright the parable of their lives. We ask him to dispel that unholy grief which we occasionally feel, thinking that death is the end of everything. A feeling far from faith, yet part of that human fear of death felt by everyone. For this reason, before the riddle of death, believers too must be constantly converted. We are called daily to leave behind our instinctive image of death as the total destruction of a person. We are called to leave behind the visible world we take for granted, our usual, commonplace ways of thinking, and to entrust ourselves entirely to the Lord who tells us: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:25-26). [3]

When I started this, it was Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the United States, in some allied countries still called Armistice Day, more than one hundred years after the guns fell silent, in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, and the feast day of a converted soldier and later a bishop, known as the Merciful St. Martin of Tours. 75 years after the end of World War the ceremonies are still a reminder that even secular society remembers its deceased heroes.

Both wars have given the Church many canonized martyrs and other saints. In the years to come given those in the medical field and others are placing their lives on the line for us, people in general just helping others in various ways, likely many from this pandemic will be added to the ranks of the Saints.

This pandemic is a war with an unseen enemy and more than ever we should recall that part of Christ’s promise not to leave us orphans, to be with us always, is the Communion of Saints, their love, intercession, and protection, likewise the Holy Souls in Purgatory, who know we pray for them. Once they enter heaven they too watch over and intercede for us.

My mentor as a writer was Fr. Eddie Doherty, priest of Madonna House and he often would say about writing: “Interruptions are my life!”, in other words people first and urged me always to move away from writing and pay attention to, serve people.

No surprise it is now Monday of the 1st week of Holy Advent, feast of the Apostles St. Andrew.

It is twilight of Monday, a peaceful time to write for Advent is the season of hope.

Hope is not only a gift of the Holy Spirit it is, even if our emotions due to the pandemic stress are raging against hope, remains a choice, not a feeling, an act of the will, thus the importance of simple acts of prayer such as: Jesus I hope in You, Jesus I trust You.

When in Luke 10:42 Jesus tells Martha: Porro unum est necessariu, only one thing is necessary, He is speaking of union with Himself. The way we are totally His, sitting at His feet and contemplating Him, or occupied with serving Him in others, contemplation and action, should be so integrated in our lives that our contemplation leads to self-forgetfulness in our loving service of others, and that our loving service of others leads to deeper contemplation.

It would be naïve to suggest in this time of plague that the intensity of emotional and other associated stress will evaporate like mist in the morning when the sun rises, or that it does not take extreme effort in such global suffering to stay focused on what truly matters: trusting in the love of Christ, His Presence and promise to always be with us, as is our Blessed Mother, the Angels and Saints.

In the aloneness of isolation with rolling shut-downs, especially for those in hospitals, nursing homes, with the burden of unemployment placing stress on families, who already deal  with increased food prices, etc., etc., faith and trust are under assault, and for many with restrictions on places of worship even the weekly comfort and strength of communal prayer and reception of the Holy Eucharist is denied: how can we believe in hope, live hope, when all this has our emotions screaming against it?

Indeed, there is with this pandemic a type of emotional and spiritual darkness weighing upon the entire human family.

In this book CIRCLING THE SUN, Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time, the author has a meditation in a chapter titled HOLY DARKNESS beginning by reflecting on twilight: ….It is the hour that, according to Tolkien, the elves call “undomiel,” the calm pause between sunset and starshine, twilight, when out star’s light is twice scattered by atmosphere and dust yet still hides the others’ from our view. [Then quoting Beston from: The Outermost House, pp.131-132], he inserts: …..Primitive folk……do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power……With lights and ever more lights we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to forests and the sea… live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day. [4a]

The above touches the very core of what millions are experiencing during this pandemic. Bad enough the reality in modern times, in cities in particular, we have so artificially illuminated our lives that the sharp and wonderful delineation, in nature, between night and day, in our busy lives, has been obliterated by this pandemic where for months what we considered normal has become a tangled web of consistent uncertainty, it is a darkness invading twenty-four seven, as many see approaching the back robed sickle carrying figures of death following as closely as our own shadows. Our dreams are, at best, odd; relationships stressed to the max, we have become a human family living in a fireless cave in unending night and we have become blind. When it comes to the truth of who we are and Who speaks to our hearts, knocking constantly at the door of our hearts, asking leave to enter to comfort and heal, to nourish us with His words of hope’s certainty, reminding us we have being, life, because we are beloved, we have become deaf!

Yet Truth is Jesus Himself, He is the Light the darkness cannot shatter, thus: We are traveling into the Light of God, and for us, given new eyes by the risen Lord and His all-blessing Spirit, darkness is more than an image of evil….The one good God made both day and night, and His holiness is shining through His Son’s cross into every space, between the galaxies or within the most tightly clenched soul, that His love has fashioned. “We live by faith, not by sight.” [2 Cor. 5:7]……wholly transformed by the glory shining on the face of Jesus, we see our own true faces in the light of His and hear the Father speak to us His irrevocable word: “Let light shine out of darkness.” [2 Cor. 4:6]. [4b]

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. [from the Holy Mass after the Our Father.]

What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [Jn. 1: 4,5]

First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, this the 2nd Antiphon of Vespers: Know that the Lord is coming and with Him all His saints; that day will dawn with a wonderful light, alleluia.





[4a & 4b] CIRCLING THE SUN, Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time; Robert D. Pelton; pp.75-78; The Pastoral Press 1986 {italics are mine}


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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