Remembering in November

FATHER GEORGE WILLIAM RUTLER

The autumnal days of November, with the falling leaves and early darkness, are reminders of the edge where time meets eternity.

Celebrating all the saints on the first day of the month, and praying in solemn hope for all the holy souls is part of the pattern. Then too is the civil remembrance on November 11 of the armistice ending the First World War with its heavy toll, and of all those who have given their lives for their country: "Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn…" The hospitality of Thanksgiving includes the wistful remembrance of those who no longer sit at our earthly table for they have gone on to the Heavenly Banquet.

In the universality of the Catholic Church, the living and the dead are united in worshiping the Creator of all things. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta often asked me to remember her each time I add the drop of water to the wine of the chalice at the preparation of the Eucharistic gifts. I still do that, and include all the faithful departed whose presence is mystically imparted to us who are still on earth. St. Thomas Aquinas said that when the priest commingles one small particle of the Body of Christ with the Precious Blood, we have a sign of the absorption of the saints into the Beatific Vision of Heaven.

Last Sunday in Baghdad, Islamic terrorists killed 58 people along with their two young priests, and wounded 75 others, mostly women and children, as they were preparing to commune with Christ. Horrible as that was, it was also a grace to die so close to Our Lord who was with all Christians gathered around their altar on that same Sunday in every church.

As a student in Rome, I lived near the Pantheon, built first in 27 B.C. to all the Roman gods, and rebuilt in A.D. 126 by the Emperor Hadrian. In 609, Pope Boniface IV consecrated it as a church and celebrated a feast of All Martyrs on the same day as the old pagan feast of Lemuralia, when the ancient Romans used to offer sacrifices to protect themselves from ghosts. The Resurrection defied such superstitions and gave cause to rejoice in the gift of eternal life. The pagan haunted world is now hallowed by the Saviour. In Christian worship, death and life commune in a harmony by which autumn is nature's novitiate for spring. As high energy physics shows the importance of every subatomic particle in the material order, so in the moral order is every soul of importance to God. All souls are meant to be in communion with him and with each other in the fellowship of the Church. "But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!" (Wisdom 11:26, 12:1)

 

 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Father George William Rutler. "Remembering in November." From the Pastor (November 6, 2010).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.

THE AUTHOR

Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2010 Father George W. Rutler




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