Dear parish family,
Tuesday, November 1, will be All Saints Day. This beautiful Solemnity celebrates the Church Triumphant in heaven with all those Holy Ones who came before us, the famous as well as the unknown. This year, All Saints Day will be a Holy Day of Obligation. We will celebrate solemnly each Mass of the day, and the Relics of the Saints will be exposed for veneration by the faithful.
Wednesday, November 2, will be All Souls Day. This annual Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed is a powerful expression of our Catholic belief in Purgatory. We affirm the Church’s teaching that sin is an offense against God’s love and deserves His just punishments. We also affirm our belief that prayer is a powerful instrument before God, by which we can intercede for our deceased brothers and sisters.
In our parish, it is a custom to cherish in a special way the memory of those whose funerals were celebrated in our church during the past year. We will read out their names during Mass. If you have a family member who passed away and their funeral was held here, be assured that the person will be automatically on the remembrance list. If your loved one’s funeral was held elsewhere, and you would like to include him or her, please contact the parish office to present your request.
Starting last year, I have revived the ancient tradition of All Souls Novena here, which is a series of Holy Masses for the Holy Souls which begins on November 3 and continue for 9 consecutive days. Those enrolled will share in a special remembrance at the Altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. Enrollment envelopes are available at the doors of our church and in the parish office. Like many of you who are still in mourning, I find consolation in these spiritual rituals, recalling the memory of my beloved father who died a year and a half ago. My dad used to request Mass intentions for the souls in Purgatory every November. He taught me to do the same, with a simple belief that the Holy Souls whose suffering we ease, once ascended to heaven, will not forget us before God.
Scripture tells us that “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Maccabees 12:46). In November, the Church grants special graces called “Indulgences” that the faithful may obtain for the Holy Souls by visiting a cemetery to pray for the dead. An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment one deserves for one’s sins. We may gain a “partial indulgence” all year round by visiting a cemetery, but from November 1 through November 8, it is a “plenary indulgence”. This means that by performing the requirements for an indulgence on those days, we will make it possible for a soul who is suffering in Purgatory to ascend into Heaven, completely free and forgiven by God. To obtain the plenary indulgence, we must receive Holy Communion each day we wish to gain the indulgence, but we only need to go to Confession once during the period and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
As you know, our parish’s cemetery is located on 21st Street and 26th Avenue, opposite the New York Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. On Wednesday, November 2, I invite you to join me and the priests of our parish in making a visit to that cemetery. You can meet us by the church parking lot at 10:00am and we will walk together there, or you can meet us there and join us in prayer at 10:15am. We will conclude in time to walk back for the 12 Noon Mass at church.
Remembering you and your deceased loved ones at the Altar, I remain
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham