November: time to reflect on communion of saints Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, a column by Fr. Donald Lange

We begin November by celebrating the feast of All Saints.

On All Saints Day, we remember and we honor both the canonized and non-canonized saints of the Catholic Church. Both invite and inspire us to imitate their Christ-like lives.

In No. 2013 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.

“All are called to holiness: In order to reach this perfection, the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift so that doing the will of the Father in everything, they may whole heartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor.”

Saints from all walks of life

Saints range from the sinless Mother of God, Mary, to saints who persecuted the Church before their conversion.

The latter give us hope that, if they made it to heaven, that through God’s grace we too can join them. To imitate them, we need to daily respond to God’s graces of conversion as they did.

We don’t worship saints. We venerate them. We pray to them to intercede to God for us. St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”

Communion of saints

November also invites us to reflect upon the communion of saints. They include the faithful on earth, the poor souls in purgatory, and the blessed in heaven.

We on Earth pray for each other and for those in purgatory who undergo purification from sins so they can enter heaven. Saints in heaven pray for us and for those in purgatory.

We believe that in the communion of saints, the merciful love of God and his saints is always attentive to our prayers.

All Souls Day

On November 2, we celebrate All Souls Day.

We join the saints in heaven in praying for those in purgatory. In No. 1030 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

On All Souls Day, the Church invites us to visit a parish cemetery where loved ones are buried.

A priest once told me that whenever he passed a cemetery, he prayed for those buried there. A cemetery is the final resting place for the body until it’s reunited with the soul at the Resurrection.

In 2 Maccabees 12:46, it says, “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.”

Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli

November is also the month of Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli’s birthday. He was born on November 4, 1806, in Milan, Italy. Father Samuel, a Dominican missionary, served heroically in upper Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and in the tri-state area of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

Many considered him to be a living saint. The Church agreed when on July 6, 1993, it bestowed on him the title “venerable” which recognized him as a person of heroic sanctity.

We pray that the Church someday honors him by declaring him “blessed” and then “saint.” Sainthood would be a great honor for our Madison Diocese since he spent much of his priesthood here.

Sacrament of the Sick

Since November is the month of last things, Father Samuel’s life and death invite us to reflect upon the Sacrament of the Sick. In his lifetime, it was called Extreme Unction because it was received by the dying.

On a cold winter day in February 15, 1863, Father Samuel, then pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Benton, gave the last rites to a dying woman. This included receiving the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. If the person was well enough, he or she also received the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion (Viaticum.)

After ministering to the dying woman, Father Samuel became sick and died of pneumonia on February 23, 1864.

After the Second Vatican Council the Church renamed Extreme Unction the Sacrament of the Sick. This restored the practice of the early Church to anoint both the sick and dying.

Feast of Christ the King

We conclude the Sundays of the Church year by celebrating the Feast of Christ the King.

This feast reminds us that we will be judged on how well we spent our life helping to bring about God’s kingdom of justice, love, and mercy.

By faithfully living our baptismal promises, we pray that we will join the saints as they enjoy the beatific vision in heaven forever.

The Year of Faith inspires us to reach for this heavenly goal by living a saintly Christ-like life.


Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.