11 November: Saint Martin of Tours. Born to pagan parents, this son of a veteran was forced at the age of 15 to serve in the army. Martin was baptized a Christian at age 18. He lived more like a monk than a soldier. One of the most famous stories associated with Martin happened while he was in the army: Martin came across a poor, naked beggar at the gates of Amiens who asked alms in Christ’s Name. Martin had nothing with him except his weapons and soldier’s mantle; but he took his sword, cut his own cloak in two, and gave half to the poor man. That night, Christ appeared to him clothed with half a mantle and said, “Martin, the catechumen, has clothed ME with his mantle!” At age 23, Martin refused a war bonus and requested dismissal from the army. He told his commander: “I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” He was accused of cowardice and after great difficulty, was discharged. Martin then dedicated himself to God’s work. He traveled to Tours where he began studying under Hilary of Poitiers (a doctor of the Church). Martin was ordained as an exorcist. Martin also became a monk. He established a French monastery near Poitiers. He lived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside. The people of Tours demanded he become their bishop. Martin did not wish it (was so reluctant that he hid in a barn full of geese which honked loudly and gave him away!!!). He thus reluctantly became bishop of Tours and served faithfully. Along with St. Ambrose, Martin rejected putting heretics to death. He worked against the Arian heresy, paganism, and the Druid religion. He was an extraordinary evangelist and won many to the Christian faith. Once the devil appeared to him and spoke as if he were Christ. Martin recognized the deceit. Three dead persons he raised to life. When he was an old man, Martin fell into a painful fever. Although he longed for Heaven, Martin prayed: “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.” Sick and suffering, he was called to heaven on November 11, 397. Saint Martin is a patron of the poor, soldiers, horsemen, alcoholics, tailors, and winemakers.
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Martin’s day, called “Martinmas”, arrives in autumn, the beginning of wine harvest and the time to slaughter winter meat. It is a day for great feasting. Tradition is to have “St. Martin’s goose” and new wine; enjoyed with cakes, figs, fruits, nuts, puddings. Of course, a store-bought rotisserie chicken enjoyed with a good wine and fig cake would also be perfect!
- A symbol for St. Martin is a horse, so horseshoe cookies are traditional. Recipe here. The catch is that you have to give half your cookie away, in honor of St. Martin’s generosity!
- To remind us that we should be a light in the world like St. Martin (bringing light to the beggar), lanterns are a main tradition of Martinmas. Pull out camping lanterns or make your own St. Martin paper lanterns. Free lantern pattern here. Then, have a family procession or “lantern walk” and sing a traditional lantern song for Martinmas. Or, sing around a bonfire with your family!
- Another idea is to string up twinkle lights all over your home: the more light you bring into the world, the better! As you string lights, be sure to remind children that Christ is the “Light of the World” and we are called to shed that light on everyone we encounter.
All of these traditions are based on the fact that St. Martin cut his cloak in half and gave it to a beggar. The perfect way to celebrate this feast would be to help the needy. Participate in a coat drive, donate to a local shelter, help our parish Triune Mercy Kitchen or St. Vincent de Paul as they serve the needy in our own community.
Click to read this week’s bulletin: 31 October 2021 Bulletin
In England, saints or holy people are called “hallowed” (deriving from the Old English word meaning holy or sanctified). Hence the name “All Hallows’ Day” for the Feast of All Saints. The evening before the feast became popularly known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or even shorter, “Hallowe’en”.
Many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, such as pancakes, boxty bread, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread), colcannon (cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as “Nutcrack Night” in England, where family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider, nuts, and apples. “Soul cakes” are another traditional food. People would go begging for a “soul cake” and in exchange would promise to pray for the donor’s departed friends and family: an early version of today’s “Trick or Treat.”
Catholic Halloween Facts…..Did you know???
- The true substance of Halloween belongs to the Catholic Church.
- Halloween is a derivative of All Hallow’s Eve. It is the vigil of All Saints (All Hallows) Day. All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation, and thus a major feast on the Church’s liturgical calendar.
- Halloween is indeed connected with All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). These three days together are the “Days of the Dead,” a triduum of feasts also called Allhallowtide, Hallowtide, or Hallowmas (“Hallow” means to honor as holy).
- Halloween is, therefore, the first day of Allhallowtide, the time of year when the living (i.e. the Church Militant) honor all the dead in Christ: the saints in heaven (i.e. the Church Triumphant) as well as all the holy souls detained in purgatory on their way to heaven (i.e. the Church Suffering). It is a beautiful celebration of the Communion of Saints!
- Catholics historically believed that on these “Days of the Dead,” the veil between heaven, hell, and purgatory is the thinnest.
- Halloween begins the celebration of these Christian holy days to remind the Faithful of the reality of heaven and hell; the saints and the damned; demons and angels; and the holy souls suffering in purgatory.
- In the year 844 A.D. Pope Gregory III transferred the Feast of All Saints (which particularly honors the unknown martyrs and “hidden” saints whom we do not know by name) from its former day of May 13th to November 1st to coincide with the foundation of a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica which he dedicated to all the saints in heaven. His successor, Pope Gregory IV, extended the feast of the dedication to the universal Church.
- In medieval times, churches often displayed the bones and relics of their saints on Halloween (i.e. the vigil of All Saints Day) for public veneration.
- Halloween is a Catholic holiday and does not have origins in paganism, Samhain, Celtic/Druidic festivals, the occult, or Satanism. This common misconception is modern anti-Catholic propaganda, with roots going back to the Protestant Reformation, and has no basis in historical fact.
- To avoid superstition and negative evil influences, Halloween should notbe honored or celebrated apart from Catholic truth. (In the same way, we should keep the birth of Christ at the center of Christmas, and the Resurrection of Christ at the center of Easter).
- Halloween is a day to reflect on Christ’s triumph over sin, death, and Satan; to meditate on our own mortality and duties to God; to shun sin and the devil; to give honor to the saints in heaven; and to pray for the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory. And, of course, to have fun with joyful feasting and merriment.
(Sourced/Cited from theCatholicCompany.com)
1 November: Solemnity of All Saints. Today, the Church celebrates ALL the saints, canonized or beatified, plus the multitude in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. This history of this feast goes back to when the Church of Antioch kept a commemoration of all holy martyrs on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Saint John Chrysostom delivered annual sermons on this day entitled “Praise of All the Holy Martyrs of the Entire World.” In the centuries that followed, the feast spread through the Eastern Church and, by the 7th century, was as a widespread public holyday. In the West, the Feast of “All Holy Martyrs” was introduced when Pope Boniface IV was given the ancient Roman temple of the Pantheon and dedicated it as a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. The dedication date was May 13, and on this date the feast was then annually held in Rome. 200 years later, Pope Gregory IV transferred the celebration to November 1, mainly so that the many pilgrims who came to Rome for the “Feast of the Pantheon” could be fed more easily after the harvest than in the spring. Meanwhile, the practice had spread of including in this memorial not only all martyrs but all the other saints as well. Finally, Pope Sixtus IV established it as a holyday of obligation for the entire Latin Church, giving it a liturgical vigil and octave. The purpose of the feast is twofold. As the prayer of the Mass states, “the merits of all the saints are venerated in common by this one celebration,” because a very large number of martyrs and other saints could not be accorded the honor of a special festival since the days of the year would not suffice for all these individual celebrations. The second purpose was given by Pope Urban IV: Any negligence, omission, and irreverence committed in the celebration of the saints’ feasts throughout the year is to be atoned for by the faithful, and thus due honor may still be offered to these saints. This Feast of All Saints should inspire us with tremendous hope. As followers of Christ, we all have this universal call to holiness. “DO NOT BE AFRAID TO BE SAINTS. Follow Jesus Christ who is the source of freedom and light. Be open to the Lord so that He may lighten all your ways.” – Pope St. John Paul II
Ideas for celebrating this Solemnity at home:
- Visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead during the Octave of All Saints’ (November 1-8) will gain a plenary indulgence that can be applied only to souls in Purgatory. Click here for requirements. Tomorrow is the Feast of All Souls: set up pictures of deceased loved ones on your home altar and pray for them. You can see how to do that here.
- Have a special meal and if you have young children, have them dress up like saints. Costume ideas at this link! Decorate your table with candles, holy cards, medals, and saint statues.
- Make (or buy!) donuts: a donut has a holein the middle of an eternal circle that could remind us of our call to holiness. They also look like little “halos” – a perfect feast day treat!
- Enjoy saint-themed snacks today: tons of ideas here at Catholic Icing.
- Craft idea: make a paper doll chain of saints!
- Make All Saints’ Day symbolic goody bagsto hand out to friends, family, neighbors: Click Here for a recipe for symbolic Saint ‘trail mix’ and labels that explain each edible Saint symbol.
- Make a home altar: click here for ideas.
- Read a saint’s story- or two! Stories of the Saints is a beautiful book to read with children. Click here for more recommendations. Or, watch a movie about the life of a saint. Many are available for free on FORMED using your parishioner account!
- Pray the Litany of the Saints— you could make it really special by chanting it and you could read an explanation of this litany, which is considered the model of all other litanies.
- Go to mass on this Holy Day of Obligation and say a rosary together as a family
30 October: Feast of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez. Born in Spain in 1531, he was the third of eleven children. He began studies to be a Jesuit at an early age, but his father died and Alphonsus was obligated to take over the family business. He accepted this lot and in 1557 married a virtuous wife; they had three children. Within five years, his wife, two children and mother had all died. The business was also going poorly. Alphonsus sold the business and moved to his sister’s home. It was there that he learned the art of prayer and meditation in the midst of tragedy and failure. After the sad death of his last son, Alphonsus, almost 40 years old, sought to enter the Society of Jesus. They refused: he lacked a good education; was too old to start studying the priesthood; and was too weak to do a brother’s work. He tried again. Finally, they admitted him, remarking they were receiving him for his holiness. Alphonsus was appointed door-keeper of the Jesuit college at Majorca. For forty years, he remained at the same post. It was patient, humble work. Alphonsus’ holiness attracted many to seek him out. He always greeted everyone as if they were Christ. Alphonsus not only held the door key, he also had the key that helped others unlock their inner life: he understood the art of spiritual conversation. Alphonsus faced many personal battles against failure, loss, disease and temptation. He learned not to focus on himself but to see failure as a grace. He humbled himself and let failure shape him, handing himself over to the Lord in the simple service of others. He had a great horror of sin – he asked God to let him bear the torments of hell here below, rather than fall into a single mortal sin. He lived a life of severe penances. Demons would not leave this holy man alone. Twice he was thrown down a cement staircase. He was afflicted with many illnesses. When he was 60 years old, he was ordered to sleep in a bed (up until this, he slept only a few hours on a table or chair). He was told to write the story of his life, which he began with hesitation in 1604. He was misunderstood by a new Superior, but he found only joy and consolation in the public reproaches he received. He wrote in his book of maxims: “In the difficulties which are placed before me, why should I not act like a donkey? When one speaks ill of him — the donkey says nothing. When he is mistreated — he says nothing. When he is forgotten — he says nothing. When no food is given him — he says nothing. When he is made to advance — he says nothing. When he is despised — he says nothing. When he is overburdened — he says nothing… The true servant of God must do likewise, and say with David: Before You I have become like a beast of burden.” At the end of his life, Alphonsus lost even his memory and could only say, “Jesus, Mary.” On October 31, 1617, surrounded by his Jesuit brothers, Alphonsus died. He was already known and loved as a Saint by the population. In 1825 he was beatified, and was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII. He is the patron saint of Jesuit lay brothers.
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Read Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez by Fr. John Hardon and 10 Things to knowabout St. Alphonsus
- Alphonsus wrote some excellent books on the spiritual life called the Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtuesin 3 Volumes. The set is available from the Carmelite Sisters.
- Striving for the humility of St. Alphonsus, put this verse somewhere visible as a daily reminder: “I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor 12:9)
- Feast day meal: a Spanish supper! Click here for several ideas; perhaps most fitting for this saint’s day would be Sopa de Lentejas (“Spanish lentil soup”) served with crusty bread.
(sources: Biography of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, by Abbé L. Tabourier; catholicculture.org; jcapsj.org)