The November of the Church – Pastor’s Reflection (October 25, 2015)
The summons to growth never relents. I write you these lines on Sunday evening, a week in advance of your reading them. Of such preparedness I have never dreamt of; writing for the bulletin has come as a rare triumph at mid-week and a more frequent scramble on Friday morning. However, we have adopted a new bulletin regimen which will necessitate our sending the whole affair off to the printer on Tuesday, so circumstances demand new foresight.
Actually, the adjustment fits the season, which takes foresight and vigilance as its liturgical watchwords. Looking ahead from this Sunday, we behold the vista of days from All Saints to Thanksgiving. Here the liturgy offers a startling counterpoint to the gathering gloom of November, and celebrates the brightness of Christ’s Kingdom, the happiness of those who share its fullness, and the hope of those who are on the way there. The faith of the Church does not so much defy darkness as see through it. Those who pray Evening Prayer celebrate Christ as the Light in their darkness at each twilight. The sun is setting on nature’s year and we look beyond the cycle of seasons, believing that at our core, we were made for a place beyond winters.
Our trail of evidence for this conviction begins at the Empty Tomb and follows the history of those men and women who have lived free lives in this world, seeing through its darkness to the truth that Jesus lives. These are the Saints, canonized or not, who lived in grey cities but always perceived the new Jerusalem just over the horizon. For them the “New Heavens and a New Earth” promised by the Book of Revelation offered no escape from reality, but rather the license to live an undefended life in the presence of God and of their companions.
For those who believe, it is never too late to join their company. Even the death of the body does not prevent it, because God’s purifying love completes what we have not. The teaching of purgatory does not frighten, but consoles believers who struggle with the Gospel in all kinds of ways. All Souls Day reminds us that God has made His love for the Faithful Departed everybody’s business. He makes us neighbors of the dead, and we, the living, learn to see through the ultimate darkness by interceding for them.
The foregoing comes to you as an invitation to embrace November as its own season, an opportunity to live faith deeply before the commotion that December surely will bring. Consider our program.
On Sunday, November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints. We will have Solemn Evening Prayer at St. Vincent’s at 4 PM, followed by a parish party. There will be special preaching this weekend at all the Masses.
The next day, Monday, November 2, All Souls Day, we will celebrate our Parish Requiem at St. Catherine’s at 6:30 PM. There will also be a procession to the Altar of the Holy Souls.
Parish Study returns to St. Vincent Ferrer on November 3 at 7 PM. On this evening we will study the history of the Dominican Presence in the Archdiocese of New York.
On Saturday, November 7, the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers, the Friars of the Order begin the Jubilee of our eight-hundredth anniversary. There will also be special preaching this weekend at all the Masses.
On Monday, November 9, the Parish Council of our new parish will meet for the first time.
Parish Study continues at St. Vincent Ferrer on Tuesday, November 10. Come and ponder a question central to our situation, “What is a Parish?”
On Monday, November 16, we will host a Requiem Mass in the Dominican Rite at St. Catherine’s at 6:30 PM. This liturgy is jointly sponsored by the Society of Catholic Artists and the New York Purgatorial Society.
On Tuesday, November 17, Parish Study will take place in St. Vincent Ferrer’s Church and we will examine the history of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish and Church.
The weekend of November 21-22 brings us to the Feast of Christ the King. St. Vincent Ferrer’s hosts its annual all night watch in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
On Tuesday, November 24, Parish Study will take a Thanksgiving Recess.
Thanksgiving Day comes on Thursday, November 26. We will have Low Mass at St. Vincent’s at 9 AM and Sung Mass at St. Catherine’s at 10 AM.