By: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.,
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
There once was a frog who talked two friendly geese into flying him down to Florida for the winter. The frog prepared for the trip by tying the ends of a long, stout cord to each of the geese. With his strong jaws, he grabbed onto the cord. “What a grand idea” thought the frog, “I get a free ride to Florida.”
And then, the geese took off. The frog clamped its teeth to the cord. Half way to Florida someone on the ground looked up and saw the unusual flight formation. “Hey, that’s terrific,” the astonished spectator shouted. “I wonder whose idea that was.” Wanting to take full credit for this ingenious arrangement, the proud frog opened his mouth and shouted back, “Mine!” ….and thta night, the man on the ground had frog legs for dinner.
A little bit of boastful pride will go a long way to self-destruction. Like the frog, whenever we open our mouths to brag about ourselves, we could be headed toward disaster.
A Brahmin converted to Christianity. He began to live at the ashram – a spiritual hermitage or a monastery. Everyone was expeced to participate in the community chores, including the cleaning of latrines. At that task, the former Brahmin stopped short, claiming the job was beneath him. The superior of the monastery insisted that in Christ there were no tasks unsuitable for humble people. Besides, those converted to the Lord should have no trouble cleaning latrines. The Brahmin responded, “Brother Superior, I’m converted, but not that far.”
Next Sunday we will be celebrating the lives of people who knew how to live humble lives. They were ordinary people like ourselves. They were kings and queens, peasants and paupers. They were the talented and the unskilled. They were young and old. Above all, they were humble people who recognized their gifts from God and used them to serve God’s people. They did not claim these gifts as crowns fo their own efforts, boasting that they were a notch above others. Rather, they quietly went about their daily works as a servant of servants. We bunch all these wonderful people together, honoring them with a special day, ‘All Saints Day.’
In our grand Christian tradition, we frequently celebrate the eve of famous feast days. All Saints Day is no different. We celebrate the evening of his hallowed day. We call it Halloween. Over the years, the eve of All Saints has evolved into ghostly and ghastly experiences. Since we are people who enjoy spooking others, and telling frightening stories, we have turned a hallowed evening into a ghost-fest. In some quarters there are people who see the evening as pagan or satanic. The entertainment and retail industries have capitalized on the day.
However, if we return to its original meaning, we discover that Halloween is a sacred evening.
Then, on Monday, we remember all the people who have gone to the other side of life. In Catholic theology we teach a doctrine called, ‘the Mystical Body.’ All believers are united into the Body of Christ. That includes those who are living and those who have died. In our theilogy we bellieve that death does not bring an end to life, rather life is changed. Those who have gone before us are united with us in the Body of Christ. We set one day aside to remind ourselves of the many people whose lives have changed. We remember their love and good works. We also remember that these people are spiritually united with us. We call the day All Souls Day.
Many cultures have special festivities to honor the deceased. In the Mexican tradition, the people visit the gravesite of their loved one. There they celebrate a picnic, enjoying the favorite food and drink of the deceased. The call it the ‘Day of the Dead.’
One day a young man asked Muhammad Ali for advice. He said, “Stay in college, get the knowledge and stay there until you are through. If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, then they can sure make something out of you.”
Many senior citizens worry, that Social Security might not be sufficient for their old age. One old duffer said, “I have enough money to take care of myself until I die, providing I die within theree weeks.”
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.