Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Oct
  • 28

All saints: The family of the Church

Posted By October 28, 2013 | 2:10 pm | Featured Article #3

By Tanya Connor

All Saints Day and All Souls Day, coming together as they do, can be seen in the context of the Communion of saints, Bishop Reilly said in a recent interview with The Catholic Free Press.
November 1, a holy day of obligation this year, is a day to honor all the saints in heaven – the Church triumphant. November 2 is to pray for the souls in purgatory – the Church suffering. Christians still on earth form the Church militant.
“That’s who we are as the family of the Church,” Bishop Reilly said. “Faith is expressed by Christians on earth, hope is expressed by the souls in purgatory and love is shown in the saints in heaven. They express the great theological virtues.”
From early days, Christians have prayed for the dead, he said. And there have been saints from the beginning: Mary, Joseph and all the apostles, “except Judas, and we pray somehow he was able to be redeemed.” The early martyrs, the confessors: “These are our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
“The wonderful thing about this is: all these are alive for us,” he said. “These little statues – they’re not ficticious people. The atheists are getting louder and louder these days, so we have to bring this forward, let people know the saints are real.”
Bishop Reilly said “there are people all around us who will one day be saints,” and talked about the “holy trinity of saints that I have met and admired, and prayed to in these recent years”: Mother Teresa and Popes John Paul II and John XXIII.
“I pray to John Paul II in my morning prayers every day,” he said. “Blessed John Paul II, who’s going to be declared a saint who’s in heaven.” He said he has a prayer card with a picture and a relic of the former pope, which makes it more real for him.
“What one thing do they all share now, what we all hope for?” he asked. “They all see the face of God …
“Here I am, 85 years old,” he said. “When you get older you think of these things, and you’ve met people who are going to be canonized. It gives you a different perspective on the Christian life, how we are called to live it. Saints come from families like our own.”
Bishop Reilly recalled Pope John XXIII telling about his mother lifting him and his siblings up one by one to see inside a packed shine to the Virgin Mary near his childhood home.
“Look at the Blessed Mother,” his mother instructed. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
He learned from his mother, Bishop Reilly said, and asked, “Did she ever think that little boy would be pope?”
When he was nuncio to Paris “he came to our seminary,” said the bishop, who was a student there at the time. “And then I met him a number of times as pope.
“And John Paul II is almost like a friend; he was like a brother. That’s the way he treated you. And he had a real sense of family.” He recalled Pope John Paul II talking about being in bed and seeing his father come home, kneel by his own bed and pray. (His mother and siblings died young.)
“Popes – they don’t live privileged lives,” Bishop Reliiy said. “These popes of our day, coming from ordinary families that had great faith.
“Mother Teresa I met in New York … She was coming to be a speaker at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention banquet. They would have three or four thousand people at these dinners.
“She told the Supreme Knight she would not eat at the dinner, but she would speak before it. So she gave a wonderful talk and they presented this check to her for coming. And then the Supreme Knight said, ‘Since Mother Teresa is not having dinner, I want to give her not only the cost of her dinner, but the amount of money equal to the cost of the dinner of everybody here.’
“I was sitting at the head table when she was speaking. I didn’t get to talk to her, just to meet her and say ‘hello.’” But, Bishop Reilly said, he dealt with her Sisters, especially in Haiti.
“She was just incredible, to do all she did, to live among the poor,” he said.
“So those are people we know today – and they’re reaching out to others. So when you hear Pope Francis talk about serving the poor, Mother Teresa is such an example of that.”
Bishop Reilly also tied saints he never knew to the present day. The Latin translation of the Bible done by St. Jerome, who hails from the fourth century, has been used “for all these centuries,” he said.
“I feel like St. Vincent de Paul is still with us, because he is so present in all these works that go on, works of charity that are all through the Church,” he said, referring to to the St. Vincent de Paul  Society.
“St. Thomas Aquinas and the influence that he has in the Church today, and has had for so many centuries,” he said of the acclaimed 13th century scholar. “He’s so present in the theology classes in seminaries.
“St. Thomas More – the Masses that we have, the Red Mass. He’s a strong inspiration in our world today.” (The Red Mass honors lawyers, like St. Thomas More, judges and others in such fields.)
“Oh, St. Teresa of Avila – the influence she had,” Bishop Reilly continued. “She reformed religious life for women. The convents weren’t the houses of prayer that they were supposed to be.
“And then St. Catherine of Siena – here’s this young nun entreating the pope to go back to Rome. And he did. She was something!
“And of course we’ve been talking recently (at celebrations in local parishes) about St. Therese of Lisieux. That young woman, 24 years old, never left the convent. She had a heart and soul as big as the world. She wanted to be a missionary, a priest. And then she found what she wanted: ‘I will be love in the heart of the Church.’      “We have saints from all parts of the world: Japan, China. People have been martyred for the faith there.
“Just before our time: Pius X. I grew up so aware of Pius X.” He lowered the age for receiving first Communion; he wanted people to receive Christ more often.
“We’ve lost so much of the moral sense of living,” Bishop Reilly said. “You look at some of these saints. Maybe that will help people to live better lives and make the world a better place – because you were there, right in the corner where you are.”