October 31, 2021
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
– Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Brothers and Sisters,
That familiar exclamation fills our neighborhoods this time of year – and gladly will return to most streets after a bit of hiatus last fall. Halloween is usually filled with great excitement, even if it may cause a few cavities or stomach aches in the process. (Remember, both kids and adults alike, moderation is a virtue, and your future self and teeth will thank you). Many youngsters eagerly don the costumes they spent a year dreaming up, with parents ready to post the latest “adorable” Halloween pic to their socials.
As a young priest, I gained a new appreciation for Halloween. While I embraced the annual ritual to stockpile my most loved candy, I cannot say I was as eager to embrace wearing the necessary holiday accouterments. But after my ordination, I realized the laughs and joy that came from a priest like me wearing a costume. So, I dressed up as a banana in my first year, and I’m fortunate as I do not recall any gorillas. From there, my outfits just got “bigger” – like the following year when I just so happened to stumble across a cow mascot costume for sale. The purchase was worth a few giggles, but from there, I couldn’t imagine how to top it (so I naturally wore a Mr. Potato Head suit over the top of the cow outfit). Regardless of my growing enthusiasm with each Halloween, I’m always mindful of younger holiday enthusiasts, so I stay clear of gore or scary costumes, including covering my face.
Of course, masks and face coverings have become a daily habit for many of us. While it may be the frequency in which the young interact with people in masks, I suspect that kids can read a lot from our eyes. If I smile at a child while wearing a mask, the impact of my smile or laugh is still noticeable. The recipient can read the facial language and tell mine is an authentically friendly face.
Authenticity should also translate to our spiritual lives, and today’s readings remind us of the importance of aligning every part of our lives to reflect our love of the Lord. A concept that is easy to teach but hard to live out. When the act of loving everyone gets hard, remember, every time we sincerely show others love, we encourage those around us to do the same — this is how we grow God’s kingdom right here on earth! The Church calendar in November reminds us how important it is to live grounded in love as we prepare for our inevitable deaths and celebrate All Saints, November 1 (join us for morning Mass at 8:15 am or Mass at 7 pm). Then we are reminded of the cloud of witnesses – both known saints that we call upon for intercession and the multitude of saints in which we pray our loved ones are among them. Those saints made a great effort to cooperate with God’s grace, to overcome temptations, and embrace holiness in all manners of their lives. Next, on November 2, we commend All Souls to the Lord, including those we have loved who have passed, calling to mind our reliance upon our Lord, the source of all love, for victory over death – we will offer Mass on Tuesday at 8:15 am and 5 pm.
Finally, Please keep all our confirmation candidates in your prayers, as Bishop Parker will confirm them this Friday. May the Holy Spirit strengthen them as they discern how God is calling them to live for the sake of others.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett