The Word This Week
Every priest, and indeed every Catholic, can sometimes find themselves in the position of someone asking “This religion of yours –what’s it all about, really, when you come down to it? What’s the bottom line?”Our temptation might be to start going on at length, which is when we should remember this Gospel. Jesus, asked a very similar question, pins our faith down to two very simple things –love of God and love of neighbour –which together make up the foundation for everything else in our religion. The very simplicity of these two commandments is a gift, so that we can try to live them out each day of our lives. The first commandment, which is also that given by Moses in the first reading, is actually a prayer that our Jewish brothers and sisters still recite every single day. Jesus, our perfect High Priest, gives us these two commandments to be written in our heads and our hearts, to remember each day, so that we may conduct ourselves in the paths of the Kingdom of God
All Souls Day
Historically, the Western tradition identifies the general custom of praying for the dead dating as far back as 2 Maccabees 12:42-46. The custom of setting apart a special day for intercession for certain of the faithful on November 2 was first established by St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) at his abbey of Cluny in 998.From Cluny the custom spread to the other houses of the Cluniac order, which became the largest and most extensive network of monasteries in Europe. The celebration was soon adopted in several dioceses in France, and spread throughout the Western Church. It was accepted in Rome only in the fourteenth century. While 2 November remained the liturgical celebration, in time the entire month of November became associated in the Western Catholic tradition with prayer for the departed; lists of names of those to be remembered being placed in the proximity of the altar on which the sacrifice of the mass is offered.