Catholic Tradition Newsletter A42: Holy Eucharist, Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Saint John Cantius

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Vol 12 Issue 42 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
October 19, 2019 ~ Saint Peter of Alcantara , opn!

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
3.      Saint John Cantius
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. As mentioned earlier, October was dedicated to the Holy Angels, but Pope Leo XIII—a pope who wrote many short encyclicals on the Rosary—chose to dedicate October to the Rosary and September to the Holy Angels. The importance of the Victory of Lepanto and placing the Feast of the Holy Rosary in the Church Liturgical Calendar on October 7 (previously also solemnized on the first Sunday of October) was to encourage Catholics as members of the Church to pray the Rosary especially for the defense against the enemies of the Church. As Pope Saint Pius V asked the Rosary to be prayed in defense against the Mohammedans, so Leo XIII against the forces of Secularism. Our Lady of Lourdes already asked for the Rosary to be prayed in 1858 against the forces of Secularism. In 1917, even before Atheistic Communism was a common word, Our Lady of Fatima asked for the Rosary to be prayed for the conversion of Russia (which would soon be the driving force of atheistic Socialism in the twentieth century). Faithful Catholics still know that it is the Rosary to keeps them faithful to Christ. Why? Because the Rosary shows that a Catholic understands who Christ is: the Son of God and the Son of Mary. A Catholic understands that the Rosary is not just repetitious and monotonous prayers, but meditation on the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the participation of Mary in our salvation and therefore that we too must cooperate in our salvation. The Catholic knows that the repetition of the Our Father and Hail Mary puts in the subconscious a prayerful attitude that brings one, in necessity, to pray (too many, in moments of fear, curse because that is what is all that is in their subconscious). Catholics know that, because it is a choice, and not forced, they are choosing to show their love for God, for Mary the Mother of God, means they have faith and hope to go to heaven. The Church understands that God wants us to choose Him (He already chose us). The Church knows that choice is free. One may ask: Why, then, are we forced to go to Mass on Sundays? We are not forced, but she commands because God must be worshipped publicly as a society and she reminds us that if we do not give at least this minimum (attendance at Mass), we do not have God’s love. This is why it is a grievous sin to miss Holy Mass on Sunday by our own fault, but it is not a grievous sin if one were sick or was unable otherwise (such as no Mass available). The Rosary, therefore, indicates generally that one does love God, has faith, and finds that the Rosary helps them in living the faith. As we continue this Month of the Holy Rosary, let us also continue to ask Mary to intercede with her divine Son for ourselves, our loved ones and the whole world.

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit.—The Editor



By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

Vatican II:   

Reid, in his study, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, an attempt to reject the Novus Ordo Missae while justifying the liturgical changes under Vatican II, writes the following:

Dom Gueranger’s Response to Gallicanism

It was only in the nineteenth century that the Gallican reforms were successfully displaced, largely due to the energetic work of Prosper Gueranger, a secular priest who refounded the Benedictine Order in France in 1833 at Solesmes. Gueranger’s principal theoretical work, the Institutions liturgiques, is sometimes derided, but in spite of its defects it did draw attention to and prompt debate on his two principal themes: the centrality of liturgical piety (or spirituality) in the Christian life and the importance of liturgical unity (if not uniformity) with Rome.

Gueranger objected strongly to the fact that the local French liturgies were produced without appropriate papal authorisation. An overriding feature of his liturgical theology is his ultramontanism, a clear and understandable reaction to the Gallicanism he so detested. Johnson cites the example of his dealings with one bishop:

In the course of his discussion with the Bishop of Orleans, Gueranger suggested … that he should send his liturgical books to Rome for approval. If the Holy See approved the Liturgy of Orleans then it would be able to take its place as an authoritative witness to Tradition alongside all the other approved liturgies. The fact that the Liturgy of Orleans was of recent composition was of little importance since Gueranger declared that it was the authority that approved a Liturgy that gave it a value (“la valeur d’une Liturgie precede de l’autorite qui la confirme”). [Quoted from Johnson, Prosper Gueranger, pp. 330-31.]

And in his account of the reform of Quignonez, rather than admit that it was possible for a pope to err in his prudential judgment in matters of liturgical reform, Gueranger obfuscates, saying that the prevailing circumstances were exceptional and that, in any case, the Holy See only gave Quignonez’ breviary a “domestic approbation”. Gueranger does, however, admit the possibility of papal error in matters of (liturgical) governance.

As a principle of liturgical reform, ultramontanism is foreign to liturgical Tradition. While the bishop of Rome certainly has authority to authorise and confirm liturgical reform, we must ask: Is his role to confirm authentic liturgical Tradition, and developments in conformity with it, or does confirmation by the bishop of Rome of itself grant authenticity, without regard to liturgical Tradition? Gueranger appears to tend toward the latter.

Given the possibility of a pope approving a liturgical reform that was repugnant to liturgical Tradition, and given the primacy in history of organic development, we need look no farther than the errors of popes made in this regard in the sixteenth-century reform of Cardinal Quignonez or the errors of Urban VIII in the seventeenth century for pertinent examples that necessitate rejecting approbation by authority as a principle of liturgical reform that can stand alone, without regard for, and indeed being subject to, objective liturgical Tradition. The latter, we submit, even popes must respect. [All pertaining to the Roman Breviary, not the Mass—Author]

Paradoxically, Gueranger also objected that the local French liturgies were unfaithful to Tradition. He was acutely aware of the fundamental dogmatic role of the Liturgy in the living Tradition of the Church so often recalled in the theological principle lex orandi, lex credenda [cf. Pope Pius XII on this expression in Mediator Dei.].  This, combined with his conviction that many of the Gallican liturgies were inspired by Jansenism, led him to formulate a condemnation of what he called “the anti-liturgical heresy”.

Gueranger traces the origins of this heresy from the controversy between Vigilatius and Jerome over the use of candles at the close of the fourth century, through the iconoclast heresy of the eighth century and the eleventh-century eucharistic theology of Berengar of Tours, to the doctrines of Wycliffe, Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli. He finds in it echoes of the Gnostic and Manichean heresies and regards it as the logical outcome of quietism. Upon these foundations, the Gallican spirit imbued with Enlightenment rationalism, in Gueranger’s view, rejects Catholic Liturgy as foreign to true religion.

Gueranger delineates twelve characteristics of the anti-liturgical heresy. The first is the hatred of Tradition in the formulas of divine worship. The second is the substitution of writings from Sacred Scripture for formulas composed by the Church. The fabrication and introduction of new liturgical formulas is the third. Fourth is the contradictory principle that operates from an affectation for antiquity that seeks to “reproduce divine worship in its original purity” while spurning development later in liturgical Tradition and yet introducing new elements of “incontestably human” origin. Fifthly, noting that similar attitudes are to be seen in Protestant liturgical reform, Gueranger proscribes the rationalistic removal of ceremonies and formulas that leads to a loss of the supernatural or mystical element of the Liturgy without regard for its tangible and poetic nature. The sixth characteristic is the total extinction of the spirit of prayer or unction from the Liturgy. Gueranger speaks here of pharisaical coldness and cites the Protestant insistence on the vernacular by way of example. The Protestant exclusion of the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints, on the grounds that one should ask for one’s needs from God alone, is the seventh characteristic. The use of the vernacular itself is the eighth. Here Gueranger warns of the transience of the vernacular and of the dangers of using mundane language in worship. An overriding desire to lessen the burden of the Liturgy (by shortening it) is the ninth characteristic. Rejection of all things papal or Roman is the tenth. A consequent presbyterianism that downplays the ministerial priesthood forms the eleventh characteristic. Finally, Gueranger deprecates secular or lay persons assuming authority in liturgical reform lest the Liturgy, and consequently dogma, become an entity limited by the boundaries of a nation or region.

We have seen that Gueranger’s critical efforts are not beyond reproach, and it may be observed that his foundations for the anti-liturgical heresy are very broad indeed. Nevertheless, they are grounded to some extent in both the historical antecedents upon which he draws and in the liturgical activity of the Gallicans against whom he is reacting.

We may deduce positive principles of liturgical reform from Gueranger’s outline, principles as applicable today as at the time of the Gallican liturgical controversy, namely, to: protect the place of non-scriptural texts in the organic whole of the Liturgy; innovate rarely and only where necessary; reject antiquarianism out of respect for the living, developed Liturgy; protect all that speaks of the supernatural and of mystery in the Liturgy; similarly, protect the nature of Liturgy as prayer and worship lest it be reduced to a didactic exercise; treasure the role of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints in the Liturgy; reject vernacularism; resist the temptation to sacrifice the Liturgy for the sake of speed; rejoice in liturgical unity with the Church of Rome; and, to respect the particular liturgical roles and authority of the ordained. (56-60)

In the Encyclical Inter gravissimas, February 3, 1832, of Gregory XVI to the Armenians of Constantinople, one reads:

It is necessary to observe faithfully the rule which prescribes that no innovation whatsoever is to be made in the rites of the holy Liturgy without consulting the Apostolic See, not even on the ground of restoring ceremonies thought to be more in conformity with liturgies approved by the same Holy See, unless for very grave reasons and by the authorization of the Holy See.

The Church found that it was common for “pastoral reasons” that a priest or the clergy would change the rites so slightly—but such changes had effects and it was the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, to stop or approve changes even in the ancient Oriental Rites and Roman Rites, as witnessed in the following of Pope Pius IX who sent this Letter Non mediocri, on March 17, 1864, to the Archbishop of Lyons:

Dearly beloved Son, it is a matter of no small sorrow to Our heart to know that the ancient liturgy of the Church of Lyons has been grossly altered by numerous errors through the fault of one of your predecessors. He did not hesitate to make those changes despite the very wise constitution “Quod a nobis postulat” of Our holy Predecessor Pius V, published on July 9, 1568, which all the clergy of the Catholic Church were bound to obey. This also, despite the advice and the warnings of the college of Canons of the present Metropolitan Cathedral of Lyons of that era which did not fail to express solemnly their opposition and their protests against the innovations unwisely introduced into that liturgy by your Predecessor. For this reason We, being deeply concerned over the splendor of the illustrious Church of Lyons and of keeping the Constitution of Pius V, above mentioned, have with the greatest sollicitude exhorted you, Beloved Son, to imitate the remarkable examples given by almost all the most illustrious bishops of France and, in agreement with Our desires, to introduce into the diocese of Lyons confided to your care the use of the Roman Missal and Breviary. At the same time We make it known to you that We permit the ancient liturgy of the Church of Lyons, once free from all errors, to be conserved for the future.

According to ancient tradition and for the safe outcome of this affair, you have given an account to Rome and submitted everything for Our supreme judgment and for that of the Holy See. We have entrusted the calendar and the offices in question to the examination of Our Congregation responsible for the recognition of legitimate rites and We have given orders to the same Congregation to purify, with the greatest care, the ancient liturgy of the Church of Lyons from all the innovations introduced into it by your predecessor. As you know well, everything has been submitted to the most minute examination and faithfully reported to Us. It is decided that the Roman Missal and Breviary be progressively introduced into the diocese of Lyons, and that the ancient liturgy of the Church of Lyons, once completely void of all these errors, be retained for the future. But while We Ourselves place all Our strength on the hope that this arrangement, which has caused great joy to all people of good will and especially to the people of Lyons, will according to Our desires and yours, have great success without encountering any obstacle, We had to deplore the unjustified conduct of certain parish priests of Lyons. These indeed did not fear to oppose Our will and yours in a question which according to law belongs solely to Our authority and to that of the Apostolic See.

Prosper Gueranger truly revived an interest in the Liturgy in a time when most Catholics were simply attending Holy Mass as an obligation—in body but not in spirit. It was this spirit and arousing in the Catholic clergy and laity a participation and assistance at Mass and her liturgical functions that the Liturgical movement arose. This principle would be seen especially  under Pope Saint Pius X: an increase in participation by understanding the Liturgy, not changing the Liturgy. But the Liturgy, the worship of the Church offered to God through her priests, is divided in that which pertains to the Sacraments (which includes Holy Mass as the Holy Eucharist), to the ceremonies surrounding the Sacraments, and to the Divine Office. As Richard Stapper puts it: Liturgy embraces the entire public worship of the Church, her service of prayer, sacrifice and sacraments. (Catholic Liturgics, 2) As the Divine Office pertains to the prayer life of the Church, and not the Sacraments, the reforming of the Divine Office and variations are frequent and so one must distinguish, when speaking of Liturgical Reform, what is the subject of the Reform. Yet, even a reform of the Divine Office must receive apostolic approval, which will be given attention.


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


MATTHEW xxii, l-14

At that time: Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in a parable, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man, a king, who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: Come ye to the marriage.

But they neglected and went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants and, having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But, when the king had heard of it, he was angry; and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city.

Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants, going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good; and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests; and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent.

Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.


CHRYSOSTOM, Homily 70 in Matthew: Because he had just said that: The kingdom of God shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof (xxi. 43), He here shows to what nation. Hence we are told:

V. 1. And Jesus, answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying:

GLOSS (interlinear): He says, answering; that is, countering their evil thoughts concerning His own death. (Cf. Jn. xi. 47-54). AUGUSTINE, Harmony of the Gospels, II, 71, 139: Matthew alone relates this parable. Luke relates one something similar; but it is not the same, as the narrative itself shows (cf. Lk. xiv. 16-24).

V. 2. The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man, a king, who made a marriage for his son.

GREGORY, Homily 38 in Gospel: Here, the marriage signifies the present Church; there (in Luke), the supper, means the final and eternal banquet: for many enter the first who will leave it; while whosoever once enters the latter shall no more go forth from it. And should anvone hold that this is the same lesson’, we may perhaps so understand it, that while Matthew relates the incident of the casting forth of the man who had entered without a wedding garment, Luke is silent concerning it. That the latter speaks of a supper, the former of a dinner is not a difficulty; for in former times the dinner took place daily at nones, and often dinner was also called supper.

ORIGEN, in Matthew, Tr. 20: The kingdom of heaven, in respect of its ruler, is likened to a man who is a king. In respect of Him Who co-reigns there, to the son of the king. And in respect of those who belong to the kingdom of the king, to the servants and those invited to the nuptials; and among these are the armies of the king. But he also says, a man who is a king, a man, a king (άνθρωπω βασιλει: homini regi); that He may speak as a man to men; and may rule men not suffering themselves to be ruled by God. The kingdom of heaven shall then cease to be like to a man, when jealousy and discord and all other sins and passions have ended, and we shall have ceased to walk in the way of men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as He has become for our redemption.

GREGORY: God the Father made a marriage for God the Son when he joined Him to human nature in the womb of the Virgin. But because a marriage union is made between two persons, far be it from us to think that the Person of the Redeemer is made from a union of two persons. We say He has existence in and from two natures, but we shun as evil the belief that He is made from two persons. More accurately therefore may it be said that the Father King made a wedding for His Son King in this, that through the mystery of the Incarnation He united the Holy Church to Him. And the bridal chamber of This Spouse was the womb of the Virgin Mother.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: Or again: When the resurrection of the saints is accomplished, then the Life, which is Christ, shall receive man, absorbing his mortality in His own immortality. Now we receive the Holy Spirit, as a pledge of the union to come; then we shall have Christ more fully in us (cf. I Cor. xv. 54).

ORIGEN: Or, for the marriage of the Bride and Bridegroom; that is, of Christ with the soul, understand, the reception of the Word; and for Its fruits, good works. HILARY: Justly has the Father already made this marriage; for this eternal association and promised union of the New Body is already perfect in Christ.

V. 3. And he sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: Therefore, they had already been invited when he sent his servants. For men had been invited from the time of Abraham, to whom Christ’s Incarnation had been promised. JEROME: He sent his servant; who beyond doubt was Moses, through whom He gave the Law to those invited. If however we read it as servants, as many copies have it, this must refer to the prophets. For those invited by them had refused to come. Then follows:

V.4. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, etc.

By the servants sent the second time it is better to understand the Prophets, rather than the Apostles; and the same if the reading above was servant. But if you read it as servants, then the servants sent a second time are to be understood as the Apostles. PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: Whom He sent when He said to them: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, but rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. x. 5). ORIGEN: Or, the servants first sent to call those invited to the wedding are the Prophets, converting the people by their prophecies to the joy and return of the Church to Christ. They who first invited refused to come, are they who refused to hear the words of the Prophets. The other servants again sent, stand for another group of Prophets. HILARY: Or, the servants first sent, to call the invited, are the Apostles. Those invited earlier who are exhorted that they should now come are the people of Israel: for they had been called through the Law to eternal glory. It was therefore, the special task of the Apostles to admonish those whom the Prophets had invited. Those sent the second time with the task of teaching, are the Apostolic men, their successors.

GREGORY: But because those who were first invited refused to come to the marriage feast, in the second invitation He now says: Behold, I have prepared my dinner. JEROME: The prepared dinner, and the beeves and the slain fatlings, may be either a metaphorical description of the Royal riches; that through material things spiritual riches may be known; or we can understand here the greatness of His truths, and the fulness of God’s teaching in the Law.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: Therefore, when the Lord said to the Apostles: Go preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt. x. 7), by this He meant what is said here: I have prepared my dinner; that is, I have provided my tables with abundance from the Law and from the Prophets of the Scriptures. Hence follows: My beeves and fatlings are killed. GREGORY: By my beeves (tauri mei) are signified the Fathers of the Old Testament; who with the permission of the law gored their enemies, with the horn of physical power (cf. Deut. xxxiii. 17). Fatlings mean fatted animals. By these are symbolized the Fathers of the New Testament; who, receiving the sweet grace of inward enrichment, are uplifted on wings of contemplation from earthly desires to heavenly things. He therefore says: My beeves and fatlings are killed; as though to say: Reflect upon the deaths of the Fathers who preceded you, and purpose some amendment of your lives.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: Or again, He therefore says, beeves and fatlings, not as though the beeves were not also fat, but because not all the beeves were fattened. Therefore the fatlings symbolize only the Prophets, who were filled with the Holy Spirit; the beeves those who were priests as well as Prophets, such as Jeremias and Ezechiel: for as the beeves (tauri) are the leaders of the herd, so also are the Priests the leaders of the people.

HILARY: Or again, the beeves are a figure of the glorious martyrs, who confessing God were offered up as chosen victims. The fatlings are spiritual men, nourished on heavenly bread to soar like birds, who will fill others from the abundance they have eaten.

GREGORY: Note that in the earlier invitation nothing is said of beeves and fatlings, while in the second it is recorded that they are now killed: for the Omnipotent God, when we refuse to hear His words, will add examples: so that all we believe impossible, becomes easier to surmount, the more we hear that others have overcome.

ORIGEN: Or, the dinner prepared is the word of God; by beeves are meant certain great utterances of God; fatlings, the sweet and delectable. For if anyone utters words that are timid and not firm, and lacking any great power of reason, what they utter will seem thin and weak. But when with each proposition uttered examples arc brought forward, replete with the proofs of reason, such discourses are fatlings. As for example, should anyone give a discourse on chastity, it might correctly be put before us as a dove. But if he utter the same holy discourse replete with solid proof from the Scriptures, so as to delight as well as strengthen the souls of his listeners, then what he has uttered is a fatling.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: That He says, and all things are ready, is to be understood as meaning that the Scriptures are filled with what we wish to know for salvation. He who is ignorant, will find there what he needs to learn. Whoever is self-willed, what he will fear. He who is in danger, will find there what has been promised us; which will rouse him to work. GLOSS: Or, all things are ready, means: the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, before closed, is now open through faith in My Incarnation.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM: Or, He means, all things are prepared, which relate to the mystery of the Lord’s Passion and our redemption. He says: Come ye to the wedding, not on foot, but by faith and morals. But they neglected. He makes clear how they neglected when He adds:

V.5. But they neglected and went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandise.

CHRYSOSTOM, Homily 70 in Matthew: Although these seem reasonable occupations, yet we learn from this that even if what detains us is necessary, we must place spiritual things before all others. But to me it seems that they put forward these tasks as an excuse for their own indifference. HILARY: For men are taken up with worldly ambition as with a farm; many however are held back by affairs simply through greed for money.


20 : ST JOHN OF KANTI (A.D. 1473)

JOHN CANTIUS receives his name from his birthplace, Kanti, near Oswiecim in Poland. His parents were country folk of respectable position and, seeing that their son was as quick and intelligent as he was good, they sent him in due course to the University of Cracow. He took good degrees, was ordained priest, and appointed to a lectureship or chair in the university. He was known to lead a very strict life, and when he was warned to look after his health he replied by pointing out that the fathers of the desert were notably long-lived. There is a story told that once he was dining in hall, when a famished-looking beggar passed the door. John jumped up and carried out all his commons to the man; when he returned to his seat he found his plate again full-miraculously. This, it is said, was long commemorated in the university by setting aside a special meal for a poor man every day; when dinner was ready the vice-president would cry out in Latin, “A poor man is coming”, to which the president replied, ” Jesus Christ is coming”, and the man was then served. But while he was yet alive John’s success as a preacher and teacher raised up envy against him, and his rivals managed to get him removed and sent as parish priest to Olkusz. St John turned to his new work with single-hearted energy, but his parishioners did not like him and he himself was afraid of the responsibilities of his position. Nevertheless he persevered for some years, and by the time he was recalled to Cracow had so far won his people’s hearts that they accompanied him on part of the road with such grief that he said to them, “This sadness does not please God. If I have done any good for you in all these years, sing a song of joy.”

St John’s second appointment at the university was as professor of Sacred Scripture, and he held it to the end of his life. He left such a reputation that his doctoral gown was for long used to vest each candidate at the conferring of degrees, but his fame was not at all confined to academic circles. He was a welcome guest at the tables of the nobility (once his shabby cassock caused the servants to refuse him admission, so he went away and changed it. During the meal a dish was upset over the new one. “No matter,” he said, “my clothes deserve some dinner because to them I owe the pleasure of being here at all”), and he was known to all the poor in Cracow. His goods and money were always at their disposition, and time and again they literally “cleared him out”. But his own needs were few; he slept on the floor, never ate meat, and when he went to Rome he walked all the way and carried his luggage on his back. He was never weary of telling his pupils to “fight all false opinions, but let your weapons be patience, sweetness and love. Roughness is bad for your own soul and spoils the best cause.” Several miracles were reported of St John, and when news got round the city that he was dying there was an outburst of sorrow. “Never mind about this prison which is decaying “, he said to those who were looking after him, “but think of the soul that is going to leave it.” He died on Christmas eve, 1473, at the age of eighty-three. St John Cantius was canonized in 1767, and his feast extended to the whole Western  church. He is the only confessor not a bishop who has different hymns for Matins, Lauds and Vespers in the Roman Breviary.

(Butler’s Lives of the Saints)



Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)




November is the month of praying for the dead; so this proposes further discussion. We want the children to pray generously, boldly, not only for “our dead” but for all the world of the dead. Strangely enough, this is their way if they are left to themselves. Rarely are they content with our conventional phrasing, “relatives and friends and all the souls in Purgatory.” They care about so many, and want to name them by name.

I was icing a cake one day and one of the boys was watching hungrily.

“Who’s he?” he asked, pointing to Paul Revere on the sugar package.

So I told him the story of Paul Revere.

“Boy. He was pretty brave to do that. Is he dead?” “Yes. That happened a long time ago.”

That night at prayers we listed our intentions and our dead, and he added: “And Paul Revere, in case he’s in Purgatory.”

Yes, Paul Revere, and Rudyard Kipling, because he wrote the Jungle Book, and the Just-So Stories, and Kenneth Grahame because he wrote Wind in the Willows, and Beatrix Potter for Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit. They pray for Stephen Foster because they sing his songs, and all the ones who wrote their favorite music; for the Brothers Grimm, of course, and Hans Andersen. Then there is Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, and all the dead in the cemeteries (for whom we pray when we drive by cemeteries), and the dead in the newspapers, and the accident victims. Add to these the bad dead, like Stalin and Hitler (whom they do not even know except from history books or, now and then, grownups’ conversation), and the dead who have died without Baptism, “because we hope they got baptism of desire,” also the dead of the terrible persecutions, and the bad Indians who martyred the Jesuits, the dead in our floods, and of course the dead who have no one to care about them or pray for them. The listings could go on all night, just as the lists for All Souls’ Day could go on all day. But this is good, because we don’t know about the dead. If they are in Heaven, our prayers will be used for someone else, and if they are beyond saving, our prayers will be used for someone else. Always, we must remember how much God loves souls and how dearly He paid on the cross in order to save them.

Charity is not just for this world. It extends to the world where so many we have loved, and God has loved, must wait and endure purification, “as though by fire.” Masses, prayers, sacrifices, all must be encouraged for the dead. Blessed John Masias used to sprinkle holy water on the ground, saying that it was an efficacious devotion together with prayers for the souls in Purgatory. His story, Warrior in White, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, is a good read-aloud story for November.

In the Canon of every Mass there is a special memento for the dead; so we can remind our children the night before and on the way in the morning to make their Mass intention for the dead. We can encourage them to sacrifice in order to give an offering for a Mass for the dead. We can remind them after they have been to confession that for the few moments it takes them to make the Stations of the Cross or recite the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament and pray for the intention of the Holy Father, there is a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in Purgatory. We can faithfully attend Forty Hours’ devotion, parish Holy Hours, or whatever devotions our parish holds by which we may give praise and honor to God and succor to the dear dead.

Above all, let us not fail to teach our children that death is one of the punishments of original sin. It was not part of God’s original plan. If Adam had not committed original sin, we would have gone to God some other way. Now we go through death.

We receive the gift of human life from God at birth and the gift of sacramental life from Christ at Baptism. Death is our opportunity to give life, our life; not merely to lie helplessly and let it be taken from us, but to offer Him with a willing heart this life we received from Him. We are free to make it our own surrender, in order to go to Him and glory.


Father Krier will be in Pahrump, Nevada, October 17 and Eureka, October 24. He will be in the Czech Republic (Touzim) November 5-10 and 16-17. In between he will be in Germany (Munich) November 11-15. Afterwards he will be in Los Angeles November 19.


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