As trees are shedding their leaves and winter is rolling in, things die. And we celebrate the month of the Holy Souls in purgatory. We contemplate the end of all things. Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:31-35) tells us about the death of the just, the death of the saints. The Gospel does this by using two figures – the mustard seed, which becomes a great plant, and the leaven which is introduced into the measures until the whole is leavened. This, we are told, is a parable indicating that only at the end of our lives will the merits be exchanged for eternal reward. So we want to make sure that the whole measure is leavened.
In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the lesson of the last petition of the Lord’s prayer (“But deliver us from evil”) states, “This Petition with which the Son of God concludes this divine prayer embodies the substance of all the other Petitions. To show its force and importance our Lord made use of this Petition when, on the eve of His Passion, He prayed to God His Father for the salvation of mankind. I pray, He said, that thou keep them from evil. In this Petition, then, which He not only commanded us to use, but made use of Himself, He has epitomised, as it were, the meaning and spirit of all the other Petitions. For if we obtain what this Petition asks, that is, the protection of God against evil, which enables us to stand secure and safe against the machinations of the world and the devil, then, as St. Cyprian remarks, nothing more remains to be asked.”
“After this I saw a great multitude which no man could number … clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands: And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” [Apocalypse 7:9-10] That’s what the saints are all about – giving honor and glory to God. And that vast crowd that no man could number, that’s us. That’s what we’re made for.
When the day comes that the sky is emptied of stars, and the sun is black, and the distraught winds have only the void for their lament, I am sure that somewhere men will be merry together, somewhere good hearts will greet good hearts, and somewhere our dreams of unbroken love and good talk and laughter will have come true. This is a glorious somewhere, and it is far nearer to us than the stars. There our Lady talks of children to unknown mothers who taught their many children the love of her single Son. There Saint Joseph is a man among peasants. There Xavier is home from his wars, and there Suarez and Aquinas have their arguments out. There Thomas more swaps jests with the older Teresa, while the younger Teresa gathers her roses. There Saint George boasts of his conquests of the dragon, and mayhap the good thief listens, or mayhap he hears little Saint Francis singing his songs. It is a good place, this somewhere. It has been called Paradise. It has been called the Tavern at the End of the World. And it has been called Home. It is only Catholicism that would ever allow the likes of me to hope some day to be there
From “Mr. Blue” by Myles Connolly
The reason for penance, the reason for prayer, the reason for all that our holy religion gives us, in the end, is about Heaven and Hell – eternal bliss, or eternal torment. This sermon is taken from writings in the book titled ‘The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life’ by Fr. Charles Arminjon.
We must pray for a Faith so strong that it does not fear death. Our Lord chose the time and place of His death. He embraced it without fear. This is a sure sign of His love for us. On avarice.