Elections and All Souls Day

Believe it or not, there is a connection.

The reason we vote on a Tuesday instead of a Monday was that prior to the 20th century, trips to vote could take up an entire day and people would begin those trips on a Sunday. The reason we vote on the first Tuesday, instead of the first Monday, is that ‘All Souls Day’ is a Holy Day of Obligation for us Catholics.

The reason elections don’t define us as Catholics is best summarized by our favorite ethernet priest–God’s sense of humor gives me wisdom through a priest who embraces the kind of cultural icons [Springsteen] I loathe–Fr Vallee:

It may be hard to get to sainthood. But I don’t believe it I quite so hard to get into heaven, thank God. My Meme was not terribly devout. She could be a very difficult sometimes. As far as I know, there are no miracles attributed to her or extraordinary acts of Christian heroism. She smoked and drank and swore a little too much – clearly I am her biological grandson. Yet for all that, she departed faithfully and, I hope and believe, rests now in the arms of Our Lord – not because she was so good but because God is so good. At the end, she recognized Our Lord, surely Our Lord recognized her. God is not looking for ways to keep us out of heaven; God is looking for ways, in spite of ourselves, to get us into heaven. For most of us, today is our feast. As Bruce Springsteen sang, “It’s hard to be a saint in the city.” Fortunately, it is not quite so difficult to be a child of God. “Grant them eternal rest. O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

The entire Homily referenced at end of post.

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Fr Vallee’s Homily – 11/2/08

I. “It’s hard to be a saint in the city.”
Today we celebrate the feast of All Souls, the day when we remember all of the faithful departed. I suppose that, like myself, most of you will have to settle for this day when you die. Yesterday was the feast of All Saints which, I guess, is sort of like the first string. Ah well, never mind! I am happy just to be on the team with “faithful departed.” In any event, today is the day when we remember the dead. For my part, I would like to recall my Meme, my Dad’s mom. Not a saint, I suppose. But, as you will see, faithfully departed

II. Meme story
Several years ago, my paternal Grandmother died. She died of Alzheimer’s disease. As you know, it is very terrible disease. We slowly watched her forget everything, until there was nothing left but primal desire to live. The disease, as you know, first erases short term memory and then long term memory. Pretty early on, my Meme forgot my brother and I, her grandchildren. But, for a long time she would still remember my father, her son. After a few years, she would still recognize my Dad but would call him “Joe.” Joe was my grandfather’s name. Eventually, she did not even recognize her own son. It was sad and terrible, like watching someone be erased from the inside out.

Anyhow, when the end came, Meme, was in a nursing home. She would just lie in bad all day and stare at the ceiling. She had not spoken a coherent word in over 6 months. My dad called me and said that I should go and give her last rites. When I got there, Meme was lying down flat on the bed, staring into space. I had brought communion and oils but figured that I would not need communion because she wouldn’t be able to receive. Bear in mind that my Meme had not spoken for 6 months and had not recognized me, her grandson, for years. When I walked in, something kind of scary and extraordinary happened. Meme shot up in bed, reached out, grabbed my Roman collar and started muttering in a panic. As my Dad and I listened, she was saying: “hurry up, hurry up, do it.” I did not understand what she meant. But she kept muttering, like she didn’t want to forget what she wanted. She kept saying, “Hurry up, do it.” The pyx, holding the Eucharist, was around my neck. She was staring at it and saying, “Hurry Up, Do it.” Realizing what she wanted, I went to get the Eucharist but it wasn’t easy because she wouldn’t let go of my collar. She had me by the neck, muttering intensely. I gave her communion. Instead, of saying “Amen,” she said, “you done?” I said, “yes Meme, I am done.” She then let go of my collar, lay down flat on the bed and never spoke another word to another living soul. About a week later, she died.

III. Conclusion
It may be hard to get to sainthood. But I don’t believe it I quite so hard to get into heaven, thank God. My Meme was not terribly devout. She could be a very difficult sometimes. As far as I know, there are no miracles attributed to her or extraordinary acts of Christian heroism. She smoked and drank and swore a little too much – clearly I am her biological grandson. Yet for all that, she departed faithfully and, I hope and believe, rests now in the arms of Our Lord – not because she was so good but because God is so good. At the end, she recognized Our Lord, surely Our Lord recognized her. God is not looking for ways to keep us out of heaven; God is looking for ways, in spite of ourselves, to get us into heaven. For most of us, today is our feast. As Bruce Springsteen sang, “It’s hard to be a saint in the city.” Fortunately, it is not quite so difficult to be a child of God. “Grant them eternal rest. O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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