Mourning Last Year, Rejoicing Now

Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Matthew 9:15)

Pope Francis waving

A year can make a great difference. A year ago this week, it rained and didn’t snow.

Also: Anybody remember what we mourned during the week of Ash Wednesday 2013? The fact that we had to face losing our pope. Pope Benedict announced his resignation during the week of Ash Wednesday last year.

This year we keep the beginning of Lent as a celebration of the first anniversary of the Lord giving us Pope Francis. Next Thursday: first anniversary of Francis on the loggia.

So, the gospel for the Friday after Ash Wednesday just keeps resonating for us: Last year, the Pope was taken away. The Vicar of Christ was taken away. This year, our beloved Holy Father keeps the season of Lent very much with us, alongside us.

Therefore: Yes, we fast. The Church fasts. The Pope fasts. We all fast. Because we still languish a long way away from the wedding banquet we seek to enter.

But we also rejoice, because the Lord has given us such a wonderful father as Pope Francis. Long may he continue to keep shepherding us toward the Lord.

The Elect

All Saints Fra Angelico

Apparently, there’s a state election coming up. We Virginia voters will choose a new governor, lieutenant governor, and other officials. May all of us who vote do so wisely, thinking first of the poor and the vulnerable.

In church, though, we focus on a different group of elected people. Elected by God, as His beloved children, His friends forever, the heirs of undying holiness.

God chooses His saints, the heavenly company. God starts the whole process, by His choice, His election. Then the saint co-operates. That’s the definition of a saint, I guess: Someone who blithely, lovingly, humbly co-operates with God. “Thy will be done.”

Pope St Gregory IIIWhen people with beautiful souls die, oftentimes those of us still on earth believe that the deceased person must be in heaven. The Church has an extensive process for verifying this. When the Pope canonizes a saint, he gives us the assurance that this particular holy person did certainly co-operate with God. The canonized saint can serve as our role model, and we can count on his or her heavenly assistance.

The Church has canonized thousands of saints through the centuries. We have this particular solemnity of All Saints on our calendar because the ancient persecutions produced so many martyrs that we couldn’t have a feast day for all of them. The Roman emperors who persecuted the Church and threw Christians to the lions gave us way more than 365 martyrs to venerate. The Pope declared this particular feast day, November 1, for all of them. And countless thousands more martyrs and saints have reached heaven since then.

So heaven brims with saints. God knows them all. We know who some of them are for sure, because the Church has certified it. Today we rejoice in the holiness with which all of them co-operated with the plan of God.

Pray for us, all you holy saints of God above, that we might have the grace to co-operate with God and become saints, too.

Another Reason to Root for the Redskins?

Redskins Rule is more accurate than newspapers
Redskins Rule is more accurate than newspapers
According to the Redskins Rule, the ‘Skins game immediately before the presidential election will inevitably predict the outcome.

In every instance since the franchise came to Washington, if the Redskins won, then the party which got the most votes of U.S. citizens in the previous election won the presidency. If the Redskins lost, the other party’s nominee became president. (In 2004, the Rule was correct, even though the Redskins lost. In 2000, the candidate who received more votes of U.S. citizens was a Democrat.)

Apparently, ESPN asked the NFL to schedule a home game for the Redskins on the Monday night before Election Day. The geniuses of the network thought that it would be “interesting” to be in Washington tonight.

Sure. Now we will have to listen to Tony Kornheiser wax political all night. Great.

Sports is supposed to be an ESCAPE from politics. This reminds me of the evening last month when I visited my beloved watering hole to try to relax and write to you. They violated their own strict sports-only-on-t.v. rule by putting on the second presidential debate.

The first debate was more than enough for me.

Anyway, may the good Lord’s will be done, both tonight and tomorrow.

Go Redskins!