Next weekend, Nov. 1 & 2, we will celebrate All Saints on Saturday and All Souls on Sunday. Catholics believe that when we die life is changed, not ended. We also believe that all of us who form the Body of Christ are connected in the Holy Spirit, who is stronger than death. So in Christ our expressions of concern, care, forgiveness and asking of forgiveness are somehow present to those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. This is why we ask the Saints to pray for us and why we pray for our beloved dead. We all support and help each other in the process of salvation.
In keeping with these celebrations, we will have the Book of Remembrance for the deceased that you wish to list. We will include all those names in our Masses during this time. In addition, for the Masses of Sunday, November 2 (including the 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday) you are invited to bring pictures of your deceased loved ones you would like remembered at the Mass. You may place the picture during the Mass on the steps leading up to the altar. And at the commemoration of the deceased the presider will pause allowing you the opportunity to silently include the deceased you wish to remember and pray for.
On Saturday we will have the All Saints Day Mass at 10:00 a.m. All are most welcome!
As I write this we have plenty of bad news with falling stock prices, fears of deflation in Europe, wars and terrorism all over the Middle East, and Ebola creeping over our state. But we also have some refreshing news from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family which just finished in Rome. There were debates about how open and welcoming the church can/should be to the divorced and remarried, to those who have never married but live together, and how welcoming to be to same sex couples. It is clear the cardinals are not all of a same mind on these issues, and that diversity is both refreshing and, I believe, healthy.
Morals do change, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Before WWII, in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, it was prohibited for a priest to celebrate a marriage between an Occidental and an Oriental; that is, between a white person and an Asian person. It was taken for granted that mixing of the races was a bad thing. That has largely, but not entirely, changed. I remember when I was pastor in San Francisco that a lot heart ache was caused by a Chinese father refusing to attend the wedding of his daughter because she was marrying a white man. It was very sad.
It has long been taken for granted that same-sex marriages are a bad thing. However, younger people in our country no longer accept that. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, fully 85% of 18-29 year-old Catholics said that homosexuality should be accepted by society. Cleary it is no longer self-evident that same-sex marriages are bad. Therefore merely repeating the prohibition against such marriages will do no good. In fact, it will cause harm by making the Church just look out-of-date and intransigent.
Clear reasons for the prohibition of same-sex marriage must be given if the opposition to it is not to be seen as outdated prejudice. I think the debate among the bishops and cardinals at the Extraordinary Synod in Rome helps to clarify and identify the reasons for the Church’s stance on homosexual relations and same-sex marriage. It is not enough to say this is the long-standing teaching of the Church. Cogent explanations must also be given. Debate will help bring out those reasons.