The month of last things Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

During November, we celebrate the feasts of All Saints, All Souls, and Christ the King.

Church years often end near the end of November, when we also begin Advent. During Advent, we prayerfully, patiently await Christ's birth.

All Saints' Day is a solemn Holy Day of Obligation, which we celebrate on November 1. We honor those who have been canonized and whom the Church declares are surely in Heaven.

All Saints' Day

On All Saints' Day, we also honor those who have lived heroic Christ-like lives, but who are not canonized.

To be recognized as a canonized saint, the Church first makes a lengthy examination of the candidate to determine if he or she is a person of heroic virtue. If so, he or she is given the title of "Venerable," an honor which Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, who served in our diocese, received.

The next steps are completed when the Church declares the candidate "Blessed" and finally "Saint."

Both steps are heavily dependent upon a miracle through the candidate's intercession which is God's confirmation of the candidate's holiness. Canonization does not put anyone in Heaven. It recognizes that the candidate is already there.

While there are few canonized saints compared to the world's population since Christ's time, there are countless uncanonized saints who faithfully lived Christ-like lives and are surely in Heaven.

When I served at St. William Parish, Janesville, a special Communion call was a lady called the "Saint of the West Side" because she heroically cared for her handicapped husband for 19 years.

All Souls' Day and Christ the King

On All Souls' Day, which we celebrate on November 2, we visit cemeteries, decorate graves, and otherwise honor the dead. We also pray for the poor souls in Purgatory.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Christ the King), ends the Church year.

It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. It invites individuals, families, society, governments, and nations to follow Christ's ways rather than the ways of atheistic secularism which organizes life as if God didn't exist. Doing this helped to cause World War II's horrors.

Though we live in a society that tries to deny death, we will die. November's feasts remind us to pray for the grace of a happy death -- dying peacefully in a state of grace so we can meet our Lord with great joy upon dying.

In Wisdom 3:1, 3, it says, "The souls of the just are in the hands of God and the torment of death shall not touch them, but they are in peace."

This passage is often read at funeral Masses.

Courageous suffering

Despite intense suffering, the Venerable Father Samuel, who was born on November 4, 1806, died courageously with happy thoughts on February 23, 1864.

Like Jesus, he went about doing good. He worked for social justice for Indians, helped the poor, and contributed to the common good. Father Mazzuchelli died as he lived, ministering to others.

On February 15, 1864, an old woman who lived on the prairie requested the last sacraments. Father Mazzuchelli rushed to give her the last rites. When he returned to St. Patrick Parish in Benton, he experienced chills. Physicians diagnosed him as having pluera pneumonia.

For the next week, the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters whom he founded took turns praying by his bedside. Since he had difficulty breathing, he had to sit up in bed. The day before he died, he exclaimed, ''O good Mother."

Tears of joy rolled down his cheeks. He explained to the puzzled Sisters that he was joyful because he had been on a long, painful journey, separated from family and friends, and now he caught a glimpse of his heavenly home.

He asked his care-giving Sisters, "Wouldn't you be joyful, too if you were nearing home?" Shortly before he died, he prayed the Quam Dilecta (Psalm 84) which is inscribed on his gravestone.

Whenever I celebrate Mass at Benton, I visit his grave.

His heroic sacrifices, long fasts, illnesses, and hardships were not enough to offer to God. After his death, a penance chain was found on his body.

November invites us to pray for the poor souls in Purgatory so that they may be loosed from their sins and experience the Beatific Vision.

All Saints' Day invites us to live a Christ-like life and pray for the grace of dying peacefully in a state of grace, so we can joyfully meet Christ, our King, and enjoy our heavenly home forever.

During November, we also celebrate the secular feast of Thanksgiving, which has deep religious roots. May this November help to bring us closer to Christ!

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