Call to Holiness and Communion of Saints: This month begins with the commemoration of all the beatified and the canonized, especially the multitude of those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. They dared to live Christ’s Gospel heroically and testified to the presence of the living God. The Collect of the solemnity beautifully summarizes what we hope for: “Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through… Amen”. We all have this “universal call to holiness”. What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow in His footsteps and conform [our]selves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. [We] must devote [our]selves with all [our] being to the glory of God and the service of [our] neighbour. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium, 40).
On 13 October 2019, Pope Francis canonized 5 saints of whom one is universally known for his courageous choice he made to become a Catholic in spite of all opposition, that is, John Henry Newman. The four women are: Italy’s Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911), founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus. We have the sisters of her congregation taking care of the children and women affected by AIDS at Jeevadhaan. Another religious is from our own land, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926), founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; the third one is Brazil’s Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes (1914-1992); and fourth one is Switzerland’s Margherita Bays (1815-1879), a laywoman. The first three women spent their lives working for the poor at the existential peripheries. The lay woman was a seamstress, who earned her living by sewing. The Pope appreciating her holiness lived on a daily basis, says: “she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving. That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life, in her humbleness”. Indeed, these walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.
Pope Francis quoted St. John Henry Newman on the holiness of daily life, saying: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not… The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence… with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5). In Pope’s language it is “the middle class of holiness” found in the saints of our neighbourhood. In Gaudete et Exsultate the Pope wrote: “Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence” (GE 7). In fact, we are called to remember all those who lived holy lives in their own way and in their particular place, witnessing to the Gospel of Christ.
Christian Burial: While we commemorate the blessed and saints and pray for the dear departed, faith helps us to understand the meaningfulness of the burial ground where we inter the bodies of the deceased or conserve the ashes in the cinerary urns or the mortal remains in vaults and niches. The cemetery is a holy place for prayer and meditation; it reminds us of life everlasting. It is mandatory that these places are open to all Christ’s faithful, rich and poor alike and no one is excluded from holy burial. The grave space is free for underground burials. However, some might desire to reserve a particular place as an individual or family grave, though such a practice is to be discouraged for reasons as given in the decree and a minimum prohibitive fee is fixed.
Mass Offerings: The faithful offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the deceased as suffrages. Lumen Gentium teaches: “Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead, and ‘because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ (2 Macc. 12: 46) also offers suffrages for them’” (LG 50). Though the one sacrifice of Christ is beyond all monetary reckoning, Christ’s faithful make an offering so that the Eucharist can be celebrated for their intention, and this amount is used for the good of the Church and maintenance of the Clergy. We also send the surplus Mass intentions to the poorer dioceses and these are helped through the offering for the support of the sacred ministers. We have revised the tariffs and the Pastors should instruct the faithful about it and should not collect more than what is stipulated and consider it as a grave responsibility that the Masses are offered in the manner stipulated by the norms.
New Missal in Konkani: All the liturgical celebrations especially the sacraments will now onwards have to follow the new Missal, once it is published. Already we have received the confirmation from the Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments for the Konkani translation. In order to proceed with the printing of the required copies, we need to know the required number. Therefore, kindly make known to the people about the new Missal and in case parishes and institutions from other dioceses and from abroad require them, and they inform you, kindly pass on the message to the director of Mangala Jyothi. The indications of the Liturgical Commission are given in this Internos.
Let this month help us to live the communion of saints in a worthy manner, by participating in the sacraments and praying for the deceased and seeking help from the blessed and saints.
+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore