"But it is true that anyone who dies
in contumacy of the Holy Church,
though he repented at the end, must wait
along this shore for thirty times the span
he spent in his presumptuousness, unless
that edict is abridged through fitting prayers.
Now see if you, by making known to my
kind Constance where you saw my soul and why
delay's decreed for me, can make me happy;
those here - through those beyond - advance more quickly."
~Dante's Purgatorio, Canto III, 136-45.
In November we celebrate the saints and pray for souls, the ones to whom we look as models, and the ones we remember to pray for after their earthly pilgrimage's end. At home we go all out, as much as can be done on a humble scale, inviting young and old alike to join us on the First Sunday dressed as a favorite saint. This year we had a happy turnout - happy most of all since there were many, many especially young ones in costume, and our little farm was covered as if in parade by a festive looking lot of little people (though we had some good big people dressed up, too). It was a sight to see everyone kneeling for the rosary before the Mary statue, more like saints than ever. And later, everyone took a turn saying a few words and having the crowd guess at each identity - in the end the best imitators were picked and recognized with a blessed medal and holy card. Everyone had a good time!
St. Patrick (our host for the day) reminded everyone that we model after the saints because, in all their myriad histories and legends, they show us the way. Not always do we dress like them, but always should we take on their spiritual cloaks, devoting ourselves in prayerful imitation of the holy ones who have gone before. This last gathering, we had many saintly knights and soldiers in attendance, lords and queens, but also quiet, lowly servants who would have died unknown had it not been for their supernatural piety and graceful endurance in the face of all kinds of assault to body and soul. Obviously the body must perish, but the soul must win, if we are to gain the goal set for us by our Creator. The children enjoy the pageantry and drama of it all - plus there is something special about spending the day - praying, eating, playing, singing - in costume, donning the character of not merely someone else, but someone great.
St. Patrick also most notably reminded everyone of the lessons of Dante, whose Divine Comedy teaches the story of souls. Many souls in Dante's Hell suffer for fear they will be forgotten, since they long, as they ever did, for glory and fame. The souls in Purgatory suffer too for fear they will be forgotten, but not from desire for worldly honor, but since they need the prayers of their loved ones to help them make it finally to Heaven. The souls in Purgatory beg Dante to seek out their loved ones still on earth and ask them to pray - tell them please do not forget!
We must not abandon the poor souls in purgatory. Our duty to our loved ones does not end with their parting from this world; sometimes, indeed, this duty begins in earnest once they've died. May we remember to model after the saints, to live a life well, dying to self, decreasing in self so that He may increase. And may we remember to pray for those still waiting to see the face of God!
This past Sunday, we looked to and honored many holy ones and ask them to continue to intercede for us:
St. Patrick, ora pro nobis!
St. Rose of Lima, ora pro nobis!
Venerable Leo Dupont, ora pro nobis!
St. George, ora pro nobis!
St. Matthew, ora pro nobis!
St. Eustace, ora pro nobis!
St. Lucy, ora pro nobis!
St. Christopher, ora pro nobis!
St. Drogo, ora pro nobis!
St. Teresa, ora pro nobis!
St. Ludmila, ora pro nobis!
St. Anne Line, ora pro nobis!
St. Leo the Great, ora pro nobis!
St. Philomena, ora pro nobis!
St. King Louis XI, ora pro nobis!
St. Florian, ora pro nobis!
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, ora pro nobis!
St. Joan of Arc, ora pro nobis!
St. Martin de Porres, ora pro nobis!
St. Albert the Great, ora pro nobis!
Infant Child of Prague, miserere nobis!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.