By Fr. Jim Kelly sj
Wow. Were you caught off-guard by the snow on Halloween and usehewung? Most of us were. Traditionally that feast is seen as a time of transition. For one thing, the harvest of autumn vegetables is basically over. A heavy frost will mean squash will be ruined if it it still outside. And all the little insects (and I saw a lot of little bugs earlier last week) are done for if they did not lay their eggs or crawl into the ground. Deer and racoons and all those squirrels have had to make their plans for this time of change, and
they know it.
For so many generations, people have marked this time of transition. Setting the table and welcoming guests at Tusehwung is less common know than in days gone by, but giving out candies to youngsters who come to the door seems more popular than ever. And people buy costumes and plastic decorations like never before. The theme of these decorations is a curious mix of happy innocence–coloured leaves and fairies and little superheroes–and the outright demonic and threatening. This mix also reflects a traditional time of transition; that at this time of year there is an opening between our world and the world of the good and bad spirits, between the living and the dead.
Wonderful, then, to see people in the cemetery on Friday, despite the snow, praying for their loved ones who have died. It is a sign of great faith. Trusting already that God has shown mercy to those who have died we have a confidence that it is good for us to pray that this mission of God be fulfilled and perfected. The beginning of the First Reading at Mass this Sunday is striking. It is from the Book of Wisdom:
“The whole world before you, O Lord,
is like a speck that tips the scales,
and like a drop of morning dew that falls on the ground.
But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things,
and you overlook people’s sins, so that they may repent.”