Dear friends in Christ
The opening days of November are full of hope: All Saints celebrates our hope of Heaven and the fulfilment of the lives of the Saints; and Monday - All Souls - speaks of the hope of the souls in Purgatory awaiting their definitive union with God in eternal life. Both of these days in their own way enjoin us to prayer: we pray on All Saints Day to those who are our models and intercessors before God and on All Souls Day we pray for those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of Faith, that they may be admitted to Heaven.
During November, and these lasts days of the liturgical year, Mother Church directs us to a consideration of the Last things: death, judgment, Heaven, Hell. These certainties are a focus for our prayer and consideration as we each make our pilgrimage homewards. It is also a time when we redouble our efforts to pray for the Faithful Departed. We can do this by our personal prayer for the Holy Souls, or by uniting our prayer with that of the offering of Jesus in the Mass, also by requesting the Mass be offered for our deceased loved-ones. This can be done by placing names and an offering in the envelopes provided at the back of church so that these can be placed under the Altar during the month. In this first week of November the Church offers us a special deal for the Faithful Departed: during these days we may gain what is called a Plenary Indulgence for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. This is simply described as a spiritual work of charity we can perform which aids the Departed in their journey to Heaven. The Church stipulates this is done by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the Departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory. A Plenary Indulgence, again applicable only for the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on All Souls Day. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited. As we now have a burial place beside our church (the Memorial Garden) this can be easily and readily performed by any of us. You might like to visit this area during November and offer a prayer for those whose ashes are already buried there.
Following on from the Synod on Marriage and the Family which took place in Rome two weeks ago - and my own Homily last weekend on the subject - there is available at the back of the church a Pastoral Letter of Cardinal Nichols of Westminster; do take a copy and read his excellent synopsis of the Synodal proceedings.
Next weekend - the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome - I shall be commissioning a number of new Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion during the Saturday Vigil Mass. Please pray for them that, they may be faithful and devoted to the Blessed Sacrament which they will assist the Priest in giving to the People of God. God bless you all!
Fr Kevin Hale