Thursday, 1 November 2007

All Souls' Day

Tomorrow (Nov 2nd) is All Souls' Day. That's when we Roman Catholics commemorate the faithful departed (i.e. dead non-saint Catholics, the saintly ones being commemorated on the next day, which is All Saints Day). The Roman Catholic celebration is based on the doctrine that the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for mortal sins, cannot attain the heaven yet, and that they may be helped to do so by personal prayer and celebration of Mass ( And All Souls' Day is that celebration (though other Masses also mention the faithful departed). Btw, fyi, venial sins are lesser sins that do not result in complete separation from God and thus eternal damnation in Hell while mortal sins are sins that, unless confessed and absolved (or at least willed if sacramental confession is not available), condemns a person's soul to Hell after death. And purgatory is basically a place or state where those who (departing this life in God's grace) are not entirely free from venial faults or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions are purified. In other words, these people can go to heaven because they love God and did not cut themselves off from God through unconfessed mortal sin. It's just that they are a bit stained from all those venial sins and thus must be washed clean in purgatory before they allow themselves to be presented to God (and note how I say that part, cause I mean every word). Thus a stay in purgatory can last from mere seconds to goodness know how long (centuries, maybe). But we Catholics on Earth can, u know, give them a helping hand by praying for them or celebrating mass for them. And that's what All Souls' Day is all about.

Today's Readings

Some of the readings for today Thu 1 Nov (yup, as I said I'm gonna post >1 reading from now on):

Matthew 5: 1-12 (The Beatitudes)

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them by saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

1 John 3: 1-3

See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children – and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure.

Revelation 7: 2-4, 9-14

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the sea of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Now I heard the number of those who were marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed from all the tribes of the people of Israel. After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. They were shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood there in a circle around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Praise and glory, and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These dressed in long white robes – who are they and where have they come from?” So I said to him, “My lord, you know the answer.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!"

P.S. I've always been confused by the Beatitudes. Take for example "poor in spirit". What does that mean? Does it mean those who are spiritually deficient? Cause the rich and powerful are more likely to be spiritually deficient than the poor and powerless. Yet the whole Beatitudes seem to be targeted at the poor and oppressed. Here's something I found that might clear the confusion (taken from

...the Beatitudes provide a corrective against an upside-down view of the power structures of the world that has been all but universally taken for granted. That is, the powers and principalities of this world - primarily referencing, but not meant to be exclusive to political, military and economic forces - appear to be the inheritors of power and dominion. In the Beatitudes, however, Jesus explains that the reality of things as seen from God's perspective is that it is the powerless who are the inheritors the future. It is the meek, the poor, those who suffer loss, those on the bottom of the social ladder, who will rule in the rightside-up kingdom of God. Jesus is attempting to jog his listeners' assumptions regarding security and hope, showing them that the kingdom of God is for those who hope in God and not in the power structures offered by the world.

In other words, the world belongs to the poor and powerless, not the rich and powerful. God looks with favour on the poor and powerless, and pays them special attention, since it is this group that is most likely to look to Him for help and trust Him wholeheartedly. As God made and ordered the world, that means the world belongs to whoever He wants it to belong to. And Jesus made THAT pretty clear IMHO.