This is a busy Church week. We have the holy day of obligation on Tuesday (All Saints) and the great feast of All Souls on Wednesday. Why are there any holy days? Why is the feast of All Saints such a big holy day? What does the obligation mean?
Holy Days: I often say that my life is ruled by Google Calendar, telling me what to do and when to do it. Our Calendars really shape and give direction to our lives. What direction is your life headed? Holy days are reminders that the ebb and flow of our lives is directed to heaven. Who has set the biggest days on your calendar this week, God or the world?
All Saints: Imagine that your grandmother were to be canonized a saint by Pope Francis. Your friends would all congratulate you, and you would joyfully make arrangements to go to Rome for the Mass and party. We have a feast to celebrate all of the uncanonized saints in heaven (All Saints) and one to pray for all those on the final step there (All Souls). This is the church celebrating your friends and relatives who have gone to God forever. We don’t have to go to Rome for the canonization, but can all gather in our parishes to celebrate our loved ones’ union with God.
Why obligatory? It flows from the nature of the feast, not from some imperial decree. If we don’t celebrate our loved ones, who will? This is a sign of our gratitude to those we love, and our hope for reunion with them one day. It is our love that compels us to attend Mass and worship God for his great work in our families.