The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
Feast of All Saints, November 1st
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—(1962 Missal) Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
ODAY we are honoring all the good people who lived before us. This includes even those who may have had to spend some time in purgatory before going to heaven. And I think most of us feel that will probably include us—unless we are fortunate to gain a plenary indulgence at the moment of our death. In other words, all the people who died in the state of Sanctifying grace. I’m suggesting that we especially remember our own personal ancestors for the following reasons: FIRST—these are the people who were probably most instrumental in our belonging to the one true Catholic Church. In some respects, most of us can say that the Faith was handed to us “on a golden platter.” We ourselves did nothing to deserve or merit it. And even biologically we are only here because of them. SECOND—Their sacrifices: A few generations back (maybe three or four or more) these ancestors of ours had to make great sacrifices even to get here. Just imagine how uncomfortable travel by sea especially must have been back in those days. There were no air-conditioned compartments even for the wealthier people who could maybe have afforded one. I can’t really say how long that trip over the ocean—from Europe, for example—must have taken.
Their greatest gift: And regardless why our ancestors were seeking a home in a new land, the most precious gift they brought with them was that of their Catholic Faith. And these people put their faith into action; once they landed, they built churches in which to honor God, especially by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I would like to think that most of these are still standing, and hopefully being used. If you have ever done any extensive traveling—especially by car or bus—you will see that almost all even small villages had a Church.
Then and now: I will admit that then our ancestors were able to belong to a Church that was still strong and growing. It was sure of itself. If you don’t believe me, read some of the writings and documents like those written by Blessed Pope Pius IX, or Pope Leo XIII or Saint Pius X. They lived approximately from 1840 to about 1915. When they wrote, they wrote sound Catholic teaching. They didn’t present a watered down Catholicism that (unfortunately) we have to deal with in our own times.
The lack of comfort then: I mentioned before the discomfort that people had to endure on their long ocean voyage even to get her. And their life even after they got here was no ‘bed of roses.’ They didn’t travel in cars equipped with heaters or air-conditioners. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure how the other ways in which their life was much more difficult than ours. It seems to me that God is expecting a different kind of penance or mortification from us today: it sometimes seems that our society is falling apart, morally speaking.
Modern-day funerals: You have probably heard about some, if not many, of today’s funerals where seemingly every one who dies has a non-stop flight ticket to heaven. The preacher or homilist is just sure that the departed loved one is in heaven. I hope they are right, especially if they are going to be talking about me. I do believe that my parents were very good Catholics. They were parents of eleven children. My mother told me that my father used to stop at the rectory every Saturday afternoon to go to confession to the priest. He had to be at work before the regular confession hours started. He died when I was eight, leaving my mother with six children, still to be raised. The youngest was two and the oldest fourteen. There was no welfare back in 1939!
Our humanness: But we are all human and can do fail. That is why our Lord gave us the Sacrament of Confession. Even Padre Pio and Mother Teresa of Calcutta went to confession. But nobody has to go to confession in public. So we certainly are not going to broadcast their faults and failings at their funerals.
Conclusion: With great sacrifices our immediate ancestors built their Catholic Churches and schools to honor God and teach and promote the Catholic Faith. All I can tell you is this: If you remain faithful to Christ and His Church especially during these difficult times, we too will be rejoicing someday with all the people who are now in heaven. +