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History of Halloween

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Halloween is based on the Celtic festival Samhain, a celebration in ancient Britain and Ireland that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the new year on November 1. It was believed that during Samhain the souls of those who had died that year traveled to the otherworld. The thought of souls wandering about the earth was unsettling, so many would build bonfires and do other things to keep them away. In the 8th century CE, the Roman Catholic Church moved All Saints’ Day, a day celebrating the church’s Saints, to November 1.

This meant that All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween) fell on October 31. A traditional practice to ward off the souls would be to carve scary faces into potatoes and turnips. When immigrants brought the tradition to the United States, the pumpkin seemed a more appropriate canvas (www.britanica.com). For a similar reason, costumes, or disguises, were worn so as not to distract the souls from their eternal destination by seeing their loved ones (www.reference.com).

How was trick or treat connected to religion? Poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called “soul cakes” in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as "souling," the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food or money (www.history.com).

However, let's not forget the feast day itself. Our practice of honoring those who have joined the heavenly ranks before us originates in the Book of Maccabees. When the Israelites fell in battle, Judas Maccabees orders that his soldiers pray for those who died. The practice is further corroborated in 1 Corinthians and in Ephesians. The dead play an important role in our understanding of the body of Christ. "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others...We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head...Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments" The communion of Saints is the Church. We are all saints! (CCC# 947). Don't forget about this wonderful collection of people who can have great intercessory power when joining us in our joys and sorrows. St. Dominic, pray for us!

Habits

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Habits. We all have them. Some are good for us and some are not so good for us. One habit that I have is to start my day with three things.

The first is my daily prayer. I have a routine to my prayer that is rooted in a prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. This prayer quickly transitions into the Act of Consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The third component is an informal prayer to our Lord to lift up my “big asks”.

The second part of my morning routine is to read the daily meditation from Thirsting For God: Daily Meditations of Mother Teresa edited by Angelo D. Scolozzi. I often dog-ear the pages of “the good ones”. It is fun to come upon these dog-eared pages a year later and wonder what inspired me to dog ear it.

The third component is to read my daily reflection and prayer from The Catholic Mom’s Desk Calendar by Lisa M. Hendey. This waits for me in the kitchen. I read it while I am waiting for my daily dose of coffee to finish brewing.

If I don’t accomplish these three things before leaving the house, I feel like I am missing something. It is in sharing this habit of mine, that I share the meditation from St. Teresa, as noted on October 22, which inspired my writing today. “To almighty God, the smallest action given to him is great. But for us, we always measure how much we did, for how long. For God, there is no time. What should be important to us is how much love we put into the giving.” All in all this habit of mine to start the day takes all of 10 minutes,
sometimes 15 if something is weighing on me. It is amazing how small of a thing can have such an impact on my relationship with God and others. This habit brings me to peace. It brings me to hope. It brings me to a better version of myself.

What habits do you have? Are you looking to start a new one? I am happy to share my resources any time. I’d love to hear about some of yours.

Posted by Jill Fischer with 1 Comments

Mother of All People

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I remember as a child sitting in church watching people pray the Rosary and being so happy at my First Communion to receive my own beautiful set of prayer beads. I recall the beautiful May Crownings, as well as one of my teachers asking us to create a shrine to Mary in our homes. That idea did not go over too well, having shared a room with my two sisters. Yet, the statues and the pictures of Mary were very formative in my life. My first visit to the Schoenstatt Shrine in Milwaukee, was unforgettable. Mary has a very important part in the life of our Lord. She was the first Tabernacle, carrying our Lord within her. She accompanied her Son throughout his life until his death on the Cross. Jesus declares that Mary became the mother of all people. Her mission is to lead us closer to her son, Jesus. In 2019, we celebrate the 160th anniversary of the apparition to Adele Brise in Champion, WI at Our Lady of Good Help. This is the only approved apparition of Mary in the United States. Yes, my friends, this important place of grace is only two hours from Brookfield.

I recently made a pilgrimage to Holy Hill, to the shrine of Mary, with a trusting heart in her powerful intercession. Both my brothers were diagnosed with cancer. I knelt in complete dependence and humility begging her help on their behalf. Several days later, we received the amazing news that treatment and surgery would remove all cancer cells. How relieved and grateful I was. Consider making a visit to one of her shrines or praying the Rosary. She is the woman, the mother of all people who pleads with her Son for all of us.

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