Friday, October 16, 2015

Our Original Marvel Super Heroes - I Want To Be Holy

By Juan Rodriguez

Superheroes, everyone has one! Children love to see their favorite superheroes on cartoons, youth still read
about them in comic books, and young adults love to see them on the movie screen. What is so fascinating about a superhero? They can leap over mountains, fly faster than a speeding bullets, they have strength greater than a thousand people, they’re great detectives and crime fighters, they can be mysterious, or they take on the attributes of animals; no matter what they can do, their superhuman abilities "wow" us. The best quote I have heard of a superhero comes straight out of the movie “Spider Man 2”, where Aunt May discusses the importance of heroes with her Nephew Peter Parker. She says that heroes are “Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they'll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer.” She goes on to tell Peter, “I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.” A Great image of a superhero; I believe it’s better image of a saint. Little did she know, she was calling Peter to become what he was meant to be - “Spider Man”. In many ways, God uses people to call us to be Heroes too, or shall we say “Holy”.

Courageous and Self Sacrificing:

We as Christians believe in superheroes too, but they aren’t characters in stories, comic books or in movies. They were real people, down to earth human beings, who were given grace by God to do extraordinary acts, far greater than a superhero can do. You would be surprised of how many saints there were in history, and how many there are today. They have walked into our parishes, through our neighborhoods, and through areas where we least expected them. They have even gone to places where no one has ever thought of going before. They were courageous in facing all sorts of evils – spiritual, physical or natural, social & political and more. They have faced death, offering themselves for those in need. We call this act of faith “Martyrdom”, that is when a saint freely gives of themselves to be a witness to Jesus Christ. Our first example of one who laid down His life for us was none other than Jesus and the first to follow Him was St. Stephen, a Deacon who gave his life for the Gospel (Acts 6 – 7).

They are the ones that sometimes sit next to you in church.

They are the ones who take the true meaning of being the “Body of Christ” to highest level.

They are Christ for us!

They are transformed by the living Gospel and the Sacraments. Their power comes directly from the Trinity, and they are responsible for sharing their gifts with others in need. Their stories go as far back as the Old Testament, beginning with Adam and Eve who were made in the image and likeness of God, to the present saints of today.

So why celebrate the lives of the Saints? What’s the history behind the feast of All Saints Day?

The feast of "All Saints Day" goes back to the 4th century where Catholic Christians of the East celebrated the memory of the Martyrs of their time. This feast started like most ancient feasts as a church celebration, to a diocesan celebration, and finally a universal celebration. Later, the Church decided to include non-martyrs to help the faithful understand their purpose and example in the Church. The feast of All Saints was celebrated between Easter and Pentecost, about the Octave day before Pentecost. The word “Octave” means “Eight”, which was the length of days the Church celebrated a feast day, starting from the day it began and then ending eight days later. This practice was done by our Jewish brothers and sisters when it came to celebrating the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.

In the west, the relics of Martyrs were transferred from the catacombs to the Pantheon, which later, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the building in honor of All Martyrs and All
Saints and of Our Lady. This was done on May 13th, 610 A.D. It was in 835 A.D. that Pope Gregory IV changed the feast of All Saints day to November 1st and has stayed that way up to the present.

The Feast of All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. It is also called the feast day of Halloween (The Vigil is on October 31st).

How can we help our youth and young adults learn about the Saints?

First – Learn about the patron saint of your parish. DHT has found that youth and young adult leaders who study about their patron have created strong groups or ministries. It also builds a stronger connection between the group and its life within the parish. You can also create themes for retreats, talks or reflections on the patron saint of your parish. For example: St. Peter – Rock, Faithfulness, Courage, Confirmation, Baptism, etc.

Second – Encourage your members to go to this Holy Day of Obligation. So many youth and young adult leaders know little about this important feast day - Halloween. It is our calling to teach, and pastorally form our members in the Catholic Faith. Prepare your group or ministry a week before the feast day with prayers, reflections, and teachings on the saints. The lessons should encourage members to enter the Mass with reverence, and devotion.

Third – Have a movie night in your parish on the lives of the saints. Invite not only the members of your group, but also their families. If people can sit down and watch “Spider-Man”, they definitely can watch a film like “Pope John Paul” or the classic “A Man for All Seasons”. Instead of a movie night, how about a drama of the life of your patron saint - a great way to do fundraisers and to promote devotion to the patron saint of your parish.

Fourth – Ever thought about looking up your saint name? You may have received a saint name at your Baptism, and your Confirmation – try looking up that name and see the saint that fits your life. What about your own name?

Like the saints in heaven, we as youth and young adults are called to share in God’s life, His Glory and His Happiness – But in order to live in God’s presence, we must recognize that God is truly our Father. To be holy, a saint, is to know that I am His most precious child!

Fr Larry Richards said it best in his talk, "The Truth", that "If we all knew how much God loves us, we would all become saints." It's time to take back Halloween and tell people how much God loves us!

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