All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and ‘Dia de los Muertos’

The celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, throughout Latin America celebrates the lives of the deceased. In many places, people fly kites to help their friends and loved ones get to heaven. (CNS/Reuters)

The celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, throughout Latin America celebrates the lives of the deceased. In many places, people fly kites to help their friends and loved ones get to heaven. (CNS/Reuters)

While this year’s observance of All Saints’ Day won’t be a traditional holy day of obligation because it falls on a Saturday, millions of Catholics will take time to remember the lives of departed saints and loved ones Nov. 1-2.

While Nov. 1 recalls the most visible of Catholic icons, it’s Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, that is a day set aside for the rest of the faithful who have graced our lives with their presence, service and love.

The Catholic Sun of the Phoenix Diocese takes a look at what the day means to Catholics as they recall their loved ones. The diocese has been refining its bereavement ministries to reach out to people whose deceased family members are buried far away or people who are alone for the first time in years.

In developed countries the observance is more reserved as Catholics pray for their deceased family members, friends and acquaintances — some at Mass, perhaps at a local Catholic cemetery, but most in private.

Throughout Latin America Nov. 2 is known as “Dia de los Muertos,” or the “Day of the Dead.” It’s more of a festive observance as people gather at cemeteries to clean grave sites, share food and drink in a picniclike way, reminisce and pray. There may even be an outdoor Mass if the local priest is around.

However the day is celebrated, it serves as a time of inspiration and reflection and a way to think about God’s divine plan for life.

Homosexuality and the priesthood revisited

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

VATICAN CITY — In 2005, the Vatican issued a long-awaited document saying the church could not ordain men with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies. That document did not say, however, who should determine whether a candidate for the priesthood has homosexual tendencies.

On Thursday, the Vatican released an even longer-awaited document that partly answers that question. The “Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood” states that psychological evaluation should be used when there is a suspicion of “psychic disturbances” or “grave immaturity” in a candidate — such as uncertain sexual identity or deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

It also said that in judging a candidate’s capacity for living the charism of celibacy with joy and faithfulness, his sexual orientation must be evaluated.

That prompted some questions at a Vatican press conference, and sitting on the dais to answer them was Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, whose Congregation for Catholic Education issued both documents.

One lingering doubt about the homosexuality document was whether a homosexually oriented man who was nevertheless committed to celibacy could be ordained a priest. At Thursday’s press conference, Cardinal Grocholewski gave a rather forceful “no,” and here are the essential parts of his answer:

“The candidate does not necessarily have to practice homosexuality (to be excluded.) He can even be without sin. But if he has this deeply seated tendency, he cannot be admitted to priestly ministry precisely because of the nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out. Here we are not talking about whether he commits sins, but whether this deeply rooted tendency remains.”

Cardinal Grocholewski was then asked why, if a man with strong heterosexual tendencies but who is celibate can be ordained, the same could not be true of a man with homosexual tendencies? His answer:

“Because it’s not simply a question of observing celibacy as such. In this case, it would be a heterosexual tendency, a normal tendency. In a certain sense, when we ask why Christ reserved the priesthood to men, we speak of this spiritual paternity, and maintain that homosexuality is a type of deviation, a type of irregularity, as explained in two documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Therefore it is a type of wound in the exercise of the priesthood, in forming relations with others. And precisely for this reason we say that something isn’t right in the psyche of such a man. We don’t simply talk about the ability to abstain from these kinds of relations.”

Commenting on the 2005 document’s distinction between “deep-seated” and “fleeting” tendencies to homosexuality, the cardinal said fleeting tendencies could be overcome. He said there were two schools of thought on this, however:

“Today, some people say homosexuality is so `structured’ that it cannot be cured. On the other hand, many others say today that homosexuality can be cured, and we even have examples of this that have been presented. So we don’t exclude the possibility of a certain cure, but there is also needed a degree of certainty that someone’s psyche has been put right, because very often this homosexual  tendency, as we know, begins to emerge later.”

CNS Bible Blog: A world without stars is a tragedy

Link to Bible Blog seriesBy Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ
Special to Catholic News Service

Brother Guy

Brother Guy

The Bible is not without its share of wrathful moments. Like a stern parent, God challenges his people to do better, and warns them of the tragedy that will result if they do not change their ways. What could be more tragic than the end of the world? And so, when the prophets warn Israel, they use the loss of the sun, moon and stars as a symbol of the worst that could happen:

Is 13:9-11   See, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation, and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the insolence of tyrants.

Ez 32:7-11   When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens, and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the shining lights of the heavens I will darken above you, and put darkness on your land, says the Lord GOD.  I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, as I carry you captive among the nations, into countries you have not known. I will make many peoples appalled at you; their kings shall shudder because of you. When I brandish my sword before them, they shall tremble every moment for their lives, each one of them, on the day of your downfall. For thus says the Lord GOD: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come against you.

Jl 2:10-11  The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice at the head of his army; how vast is his host! Numberless are those who obey his command. Truly the day of the LORD is great; terrible indeed – who can endure it?

Jl 3:14-16   Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the LORD is a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

There is an interesting if unspoken assumption in these descriptions. The sky and the things in that sky are a part of “us” — when our world ends, they end with it.

Stars shine by fusing hydrogen into helium; especially large stars can burn further by converting the helium into heavier elements. But eventually even that fuel runs out, and the star collapses. If the star is big enough, the rebound from that collapse can produce an immense explosion called a supernova. This is the remnant of a star that was seen to explode in 1066, known today as the Crab Nebula, as imaged by Father Rich Boyle at the Vatican’s telescope on Mount Graham, Ariz. Out of the gases of such a supernova come the heavy elements that eventually come together again to form planets around new stars -- the heavy elements required for life.

Stars shine by fusing hydrogen into helium; especially large stars can burn further by converting the helium into heavier elements. But eventually even that fuel runs out, and the star collapses. If the star is big enough, the rebound from that collapse can produce an immense explosion called a supernova. This is the remnant of a star that was seen to explode in 1066, known today as the Crab Nebula, as imaged by Father Rich Boyle at the Vatican’s telescope on Mount Graham, Ariz. Out of the gases of such a supernova come the heavy elements that eventually come together again to form planets around new stars -- the heavy elements required for life.

This image continues into the end-of-the-world scenarios found in the Gospels: in every case, the true end-times are not merely the end of planet Earth, but the end of the universe itself. In each case, the passage quotes Jesus:

Mt 24:29   “Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.”

Mk 13:24-26   “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.”

Lk 21:25   “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”

But stars symbolize more than the end of the world, because the end of the world is most assuredly not the end of everything. We have immortal souls. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we see stars as an example of the range of possibilities of what God can create, especially what he does with us after death:

1 Cor 15:38-42   But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.

We are creatures — things created — made of matter, and in that sense the same as every other material being. But even among the created bodies, not all are the same. And we are also more than that because we humans have within us the spark of intellect and free will, the soul, which makes us the image and likeness of God. In that, we are more glorious than even the stars themselves.

(Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U. S. A.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.)

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