Faith guides us to our eternal destiny

Dear brothers
and sisters in Christ:

On Nov. 1, 2016, the Solemnity of All Saints, the preface of the Mass reads: "For today by your gift we celebrate the festival of your city where the great array of our brothers and sisters already gives you eternal praise. Towards her, we eagerly hasten as pilgrims advancing by faith . . ." (Roman Missal, Third Edition).

In the Collect of the third Mass the following day, All Souls Day, the celebrant prays: ". . . grant, we pray, to your departed servants that, with the mortality of this life overcome, they may gaze eternally on you, their Creator and Redeemer" (Roman Missal, Third Edition).

How very clear it is that we have an eternal destiny. Our Lord intends that upon the completion of our earthly life, we "may merit to receive the joys of eternal happiness" (Collect, Second Mass of All Souls Day, Roman Missal, Third Edition). That we celebrate these two liturgical occasions, one following upon the other, is not an accident. We are all called to be saints, for a saint is one who lives forever with God. All Saints Day reminds us that we have been made in the image and likeness of God and we "look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come" (The Creed). On All Souls Day we pray that our departed loved ones be "cleansed by the paschal mysteries, [so] they may glory in the gift of the resurrection to come." (Prayer after Communion, Second Mass of All Souls Day, Roman Missal, Third Edition).

So it is then, that in this life as believers in God, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, all that we do should be directed by our faith. Faith, the Christian life, and our membership in the Catholic Church are not accidental to who we are. Faith cannot be placed in a compartment to be acknowledged or lived only when convenient or when we consider religion suitable or appropriate for our own personal advantage. Religious faith is an ongoing, lived experience that identifies who we are in relationship to God and to one another. It is the constant commitment to love God and to love one another. Faith should be so essential to our lives that we welcome its enriching impact on our daily activities; thus, faith is not merely cultural, but rather transcends any particular culture or historical period as it allows us to reach beyond ourselves and to engage in loving dialogue with the Creator and Savior.

Invoking the intercession of All the Saints, who were forever mindful of the Lord, let us pray that our leaders — especially those recently elected — will keep before their eyes the welfare of those whom they serve, and reverence the dignity and worth of every person. Guided by the Holy Spirit and unafraid to take our faith to the polls, may we make decisions that will truly guarantee the right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).

Assuring you of my prayers with a special memento of our beloved deceased sisters and brothers during this month of prayer dedicated to All Souls, I remain

Devotedly yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano

Bishop of Rochester

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