All Saints Day Masses and the Rediscover Initiative

This post is reprinted from the Oct. 28 parish bulletin

It is only a few days before a holy day of obligation. In our day, most people – especially children – know the eve of this holy day much better than the holy day itself. It is All Saints Day that we celebrate on Thursday, November 1, and that day is of such importance that we treat it as we would a Sunday. So I hope you will come to Mass! The point of the Solemnity of All Saints is to ask the vast number of souls in heaven whose names are unknown to us to pray to God for us. It can make a very big impression on children to be taken to Mass in the middle of the week, and teenagers who come might be struck by the similarities and differences of a holy day Mass to a Sunday Mass. While the same parts are all there, most priests recognize that people are adding Mass to a day that is already quite full, and so Mass is a little shorter than on a Sunday. The 7:00 AM Mass in the Historic Church is meant to be helpful for people on their way to work: they will be on their way at 7:40. The 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM Masses are in the Main Church. At Faithful Shepherd School the Mass will be at 8:15 AM on Thursday this week (instead of on Wednesday as it is most weeks), so parents and grandparents might wish to join the children for All Saints Day Mass.

 I hope if you are free you will consider coming to Mass at 9:00 AM on All Souls Day, when we pray for all of those who are being purified from sin before entering the presence of God. Then at 6:00 PM that Friday we have a prayer service for all members of our parish who have died in the past year. You might wish to know that a plenary indulgence (full remission of temporal punishment due to sin) applicable only to the souls in purgatory is granted to those who visit a church on All Souls Day and who pray the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed in addition to the usual requirements (sacramental confession, holy Communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions).

The entire month of November is a special time to pray for the dead, and the Church encourages this by offering a plenary indulgence (also applicable only to the souls in purgatory) to those who devoutly visit a cemetery from November 1 through November 8 and pray for the dead. (It is a plenary indulgence on the first eight days of November and it would be a partial indulgence at other times.) Since we have our parish cemetery just a few hundred yards away, I encourage you to go up there on the hill and spend just a few minutes in that beautiful place praying for the dead.

Some of you are aware of how often our buildings are used by groups outside the parish for special meetings or other events. This is helpful for us, as it produces rental income – no one uses Heritage Center for free! But it also puts our parish on the map for many people who would not otherwise visit. They are always startled by the beauty of our church and Heritage Center, and that’s a reason for us to smile! Archbishop Nienstedt is especially fond of steering big events to St. Peter’s, and that is why this week we hosted Clergy Study Day for more than 200 priests who serve in our Archdiocese. Then only three weeks after that day our parish will be the setting for a series of events spread over two days to launch the Rediscover initiative here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The timing of Rediscover couldn’t be any better, coming as it does during the Year of Faith. But that is a happy coincidence: Rediscover is something that is going to continue into the future. It will make it much easier for us to conduct the New Evangelization that was described by Pope Paul VI, named and elaborated by Blessed John Paul II, emphasized on the local level by Archbishop Harry Flynn, and set out for us most recently by Archbishop John Nienstedt.

In September Archbishop Nienstedt published a Pastoral Letter on the New Evangelization. The letter was printed in a special section in the Catholic Spirit newspaper, so perhaps you had a chance to read it. It really is excellent! I would like to explore it with you, and we will certainly do that in our parish in the months that lie ahead. The Pastoral Letter is intended to be a road map for exactly the kind of thing I have heard many people longing for: the reactivation of the faith of our people. So many people haven’t rejected the Catholic faith; they have just drifted away from a lively practice of the faith, gradually coming to Mass less frequently than before until it seems almost natural for them to stay away from church. In the Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Nienstedt defines the “New Evangelization” as “an evangelization directed at those who have grown up in what were once Christian countries but who have lost their fervor for the faith.” I don’t think any of us wants to stand aside and watch people walk away from their faith. We need to recognize our role in spreading the Gospel is to speak to other people about what we believe. The time has come for us to be given the simple tools that will make it easier for us to do just that. Together we can help our families and communities have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.




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