October is a busy month of prayer for Roman Catholics. Not that the other eleven months are not busy, but October has several days that invite specific prayer and general prayer.
Oct. 2 was Respect Life Sunday. On this day, the liturgy and homily are centered around respect for life in all its stages. Our church is perhaps most well-known for our opposition to abortion, as I wrote in my last column. However, we respect all life: unborn, born, youth, adolescent, young adult, adult, and senior citizens. We believe that only God gave us our life through our parents and that only God can take our life through His loving providence. We believe in life’s vocations: priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life, holy marriage and singlehood in Christ. We respect immigrants and refugees, those who are documented, and those who are undocumented. We see all life as a pure gift from God, and we seek to honor, respect and defend it completely.
This year, Oct. 23 is World Mission Sunday. While we often have missionaries visiting the church during the year to ask for economic help with a specific mission territory, World Mission Sunday is an opportunity for every Catholic in the world to participate in the mission field. It is one of the few days that is specifically celebrated in every Catholic parish in the world. Catholics always are aware of two aspects of missions: First, the actual missionaries (men, women and entire families who are sent into the missions. They are the ones who do the spiritual and physical work in their places.) Second, we who do not have a physical presence in the missions are called to have a spiritual presence (through our constant prayer for the missionaries and missions), as well as a material presence through our economic generosity as individuals and as a church.
We have two patron Saints of the missions: St. Francis Xavier, who was an actual missionary to India and other countries in the 1500s and St. Therese of the child Jesus and the Holy Face (died in 1897), who never left her cloistered convent after entering. She was never in the mission field but prayed for missionaries and missions every day of her life.
Finally, October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary. The Rosary is a prayer that is of major importance in Roman Catholic tradition and devotion. It is made up of twenty “mysteries” or moments in the life of Jesus Christ. They are broken down into four groupings of five each: joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious. After the sign of the cross, it begins with the Apostle’s Creed. The bulk of the rosary prayers are the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer “that Jesus taught us.” The Glory Be invokes the Holy Trinity in our past, present and future. The Hail Mary is made up of two parts: The first part begins with the words of Elizabeth to Mary during the visitation, and the second part is what we ask our Blessed Mother Mary to do for us—to pray for us now and at the hour of our death. The repetition of the prayers helps us to stay centered as we meditate and reflect upon the particular “mystery” or “moment” of the life of Jesus.
As my next column will not be until after Election Day, I again humbly ask you as Pastor, brother and fellow human, to vote NO on Proposition 1.
And, finally, join us on Sunday, Oct. 30 for our all-souls fiesta, on the school grounds, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be food, music and fun for the entire family!