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User's Guide to Sunday, Oct. 30.
BY Tom and April Hoopes
Oct. 30 is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Nov. 1, All Saints’ Day, is a holy day of obligation. Nov. 2 is All Souls’ Day, the commemoration of all the faithful departed; it is a day to pray for the poor souls in purgatory.
Halloween is sometimes a challenge for Catholics. There are many strategies families have for coping:
The Holyween Strategy. Dress the kids as saints. We were always enthusiastic participants in the Holyween party at our Connecticut parish. We found our younger kids loved dressing up as St. Michael, St. Joan of Arc, etc. The downside: They never got to experience trick-or-treating.
The Family Dress-Up Strategy. Other costumes we have used include whole-family dress-up themes. We have been the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Seven Cardinal Virtues; and we won an award once for dressing up all eight kids as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
The Purgatory Strategy. Let the kids dress up like souls in purgatory or martyrs. For years we have dressed up our lawn with skeletons and gravestones with signs that say “Pray for the Souls in Purgatory.”
The Tasteful Trick-or-Treater. What we have been doing lately is the “tasteful trick-or-treater.” The kids dress up like football players (Kansas City Chiefs!) or a juice box, a raisin or an Indian (at which point we just go ahead and make them Blessed Kateri) etc.
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10; Psalms 131:1, 2, 3; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13; Matthew 23:1-12
This Sunday’s readings have a lot of great practical advice about the priest scandals.
Priests: Focus on the Gospel. The first reading gives advice to Old Testament priests. The prophet Malachi warns, “You have turned aside from the way and have caused many to falter by your instruction. … I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people, since you do not keep my ways.” A modern application of that is simple. There are relatively few priests who have abused people in their care — the most widespread failing is the many who fail to teach the full Gospel.
Flock: Remember the good priests. There were scandalous priests in the early Church, too. St. Paul says to focus on the priests who did as he did — who were “gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children,” but also capable of “toil and drudgery, working night and day in order not to burden any of you.” In our day, too, there are many good priests who care for us at the worst moments of our lives and who work late serving our parishes.
Flock: Look at the faith, not the men. The last piece of advice is to not put ultimate faith in priests in any case. In Jesus’ day, he felt it necessary to say, “Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” He went on to say: “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ.” He wasn’t condemning the practice of using the title “Father” — after all, Sts. Stephen and Paul both use it in the New Testament. Jesus is condemning the clericalism that makes the priest the center of our faith instead of leaving him in his proper place as a minister who helps us follow Christ, the true center of our faith.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.