November 3, 2012 – Still Playing Catch-Up

This was one of those weeks where I seemed to fall behind from the very beginning and have not really been able to catch up since, so I guess it is fitting that the blog is a little late.  Oh well, good things come to those who wait, right? (lol).  I started out this week with a touch of flu or some type of bug.  When I turn down the savory KC fried chicken at Monday lunch because I’m not that hungry, you know something is out of whack.  Fortunately, it was a short-lived bug, and my ravenous appetite is back.

My problems of course dwarf what folks are experiencing in the eastern part of the U.S. due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  We can only imagine how one weather event can affect so many people.  Our diocese is recommending that if we have the means to help and make a donation toward the relief effort, that we send money to Catholic Charities USA.  A donation can be sent in the mail, given over the phone or online.  Here is a link for all of the information on giving:

http://home.catholicweb.com/RespectLife/files/HurricaneSandyDonationInformation.pdf

Of course our prayers are certainly needed as well as people start to try to get back on their feet.

Well it has been a long, winding road, but election day is finally almost here.  Again, I’m certainly not downplaying the importance of this as the results will have a direct effect on the direction of many local and national policies.  However, if you are like me, you are probably on sensory overload from all of the advertising you have seen and heard.  I have pretty well made all of my decisions as to whom I will vote for, and I do not anticipate anything that would change my mind between now and Tuesday.  When I was in college, I would see people pulling all-nighters the day before a big exam, and I would think that if they do not know the stuff at this point, what is a night of heavy caffeine (and perhaps other stimulants) going to help?  I kind of think the same thing about the election.  If people haven’t made their minds up by now, will they really be an informed voter come Tuesday?

Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to access for folks to look at who still need more information.  I would recommend going to the election page of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.  It has copies of all of the inserts that were in the bulletin the last few weeks and a lot of other information.  Here is the link to this page:

http://www.ilcatholic.org/election-2012/

As a voter, I consider myself an independent.  I do not necessarily subscribe to either political party.  I study the candidates and I decide based on who I feel brings integrity to the office and who I think will benefit the most people.  I also certainly keep my Catholic conscience in mind, particularly in this year when threats to our very core value of freedom of religion have taken place.  So rather than tell you that you should vote for candidate x or y, I simply tell you to not leave your conscience outside of the voting booth.  Your conscience has to go in with you when you mark the boxes, otherwise the process will not be genuine.

OK, enough election talk until next week when the news shows will begin talking about who the candidates will be in 2016.  This month of November in the Catholic Church we remember in a special way those who have passed from this earth, especially those close to us who died in the past year.  Those who are not familiar with the Catholic faith and even those who have been exposed to our faith may not know why we make it such a point of emphasis to pray for the deceased.  Well like most of the things we do, it has its roots in scripture.  In the Old Testament in the second book of Maccabees, it tells of how Judas Maccabee, the Jewish leader, led his troops into battle in 163 B.C. When the battle ended he directed that the bodies of those Jews who had died be buried. As soldiers prepared their slain comrades for burial, they discovered that each was wearing an amulet taken as booty from a pagan Temple. This violated the law of Deuteronomy and so Judas and his soldiers prayed that God would forgive the sin these men had committed (II Maccabees 12:39-45).

We also see an example in the New Testament, when Paul offers a prayer for a man named Onesiphorus who had died: “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day” (II Timothy 1:18). The cavelike tombs under the city of Rome, which we call catacombs, bear evidence that members of the Roman Christian community gathered there to pray for their fellow followers of Christ who lay buried there. By the fourth century prayers for the dead are mentioned in Christian literature as though they were already a longstanding custom.

A simple answer to this question would be that as Christians, we believe that there is life after death, and that even though we are separated from our earthly body, we are still in existence and still have a personal relationship with God.  Praying for the dead has further origins in our belief in the communion of saints. Members of this community who are living often assist each other in faith by prayers and other forms of spiritual support. Christians who have died continue to be members of the communion of saints. We believe that we can assist them by our prayers, and they can assist us by theirs.

Our prayers express hope that God will free the person who has died from any burden of sin and prepare a place for him or her in heaven.  Though death remains a mystery to us, we as Christians believe that there is hope even in death, and we pray that any barriers that keep our loved ones from enjoying eternal life with God are removed.  To all of the faithful departed: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen.”

Well hopefully the extra hour we gain this weekend will help me in my quest to catch up.  Probably not, but it’s nice to dream.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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