Spiritual Reflections By Fr Roderick Salazar SVD (Philippines)
I wake to a solemn silence. I thank You, God, for this day.
TODOS LOS SANTOS. For them I joy and give thanks.
To them I lift my heart and ask their help before You.
The silence is eerie, too. The calm before the storm.
I peep through my little door. The skies are somber.
The clouds are heavy, dark, and fearsome.
Oh, Jesus Lord, forgive. You stilled the storm at sea in Your time
and soothed the fears of your frantic Apostles desperate for calm.
Please lift this Rolly storm from us.
If You will, You might even make Your kindly act a partnership:
Allow TODOS LOS SANTOS and TODOS LOS MUERTOS
to collectively heave one breath and blow the storm away.
Away from us Your suffering people to where it harms the least.
I know we need to remember our sins and failures, our neglect
of You and Your commands. But please Lord, have mercy.
Let us also be reminded of Your Love and Kindness, Your
forgiving grace. Lift Your gracious hand and say STOP.
To the storm, say STOP. Even as we ourselves START
our saying THANKS. The lifting of our hearts and voices:
“Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee.
How great Thou art. How great Thou art.
When I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the
rolling thunder, Thy Power throughout the universe
displayed. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee
How great Thou art! How great Thou art.”
I thank You, Lord, for the Saints that we celebrate today.
The sure ones now forever with You. The struggling ones now
Still here shifting from saintly moment to sinner stance.
Thanks for the saints within and among us, the graced souls
that we are and are meant to be.
They are not canonized. Not yet. Maybe, will never be.
But I sense Your holiness among my brothers and sisters,
Your sons and daughters all, in convent, church, or cloister
as much and as many as in street and home and working place.
The doctors and nurses and care-givers who attend to me.
The attendants and janitors who clean up my mess.
The pharmacists who dispense my medication and the guards
who make sure I have no fever. They are saints. Thanks for them.
Maybe not permanently saints, but still saints if only for sporadic
moments. Holy people. Gracious people. Your people, Lord.
The mothers and fathers at home, the help who cook and clean
and serve at long hours of day and night. They are saints.
The drivers of bus and jeepney, truck and train and plane,
The sick and suffering in home and hospital, the lonely ones,
The forgotten ones, each of them and all of them have, I know,
their moments of holiness. For me, they are, in those times, saints.
What is it to be a Saint, Lord? Is it not to be and live in Your Grace?
Is it not to be a follower of what You said, did and continue to command?
When we do, we breathe Your Holiness if only for that bit of time.
During that span, we are saints. Oh, surely not canonized, not declared. And most often, not for very long.
We revert to our sinful selves. We hate again and are negligent
of You and others again, selfish and jealous again.
Sinners again. But for some brief moment, saints.
If our holy times extend and last till our dying breath, then we are saved. Remaining filth and guilt and stain may have to be cleansed – in the state that we Catholics call Purgatory —
before we are clothed in the Holiness that You are, O Lord
but we will be on the way to You in Heaven. Saints.
Not by our efforts but simply and only by Your love and grace.
I have in mind the Good Thief who was crucified with You.
How many sins he may have committed we do not know.
How often he may have stolen and broken Your commands is not said. But for that brief and shining moment when he saw through his pain Someone greater than the blood that covered You, a King,
and pleaded that simply You remember him when You entered Your realm, what did You say to Him? ‘TODAY, You shall be with Me in Paradise.’
Today. Not tomorrow. Not the next day. But the very moment that
you die, where I am, in Paradise, you shall be with me. A saint.
The first one ever to be CANONIZED by no less than Yourself,
dear Lord, was a thief. Repentant now, yes, but a thief before.
And you accepted him in Paradise. It is this scene that makes me say that in this our world, in this our time, there are saints within us and among us. I myself am a saint at those times, and others, too,
short or long, when we are in Your grace and live and love by it.
Any time and every time, the Good that You give us is greater and
longer than the Bad and the sin that we do, WE ARE SAINTS.
Our task, our challenge and our prayer is that by Your Grace, we extend and expand those times till the moment we die. Then we shall be SAINTS.
This is then our day. This Dia de TODOS LOS SANTOS. Thanks to You. And the Dia de LOS MUERTOS when we remember those who have died and those who will die, including ourselves.
We may not be able to clean the graves and tombstones of those we love, prevented as we may be by storm wind and rain and pandemic protocol, but we can pray for them as well as for ourselves. We can clean our souls with repentance, freshen our homes with renewed love.
Danne sent me yesterday a lovely video of someone costumed as a scarecrow visiting a hospital and DANCING and TWISTING to the lilting song of Chubby Checker’s LET’S TWIST AGAIN.
And he (or she) went from room to hospital room twisting to the delight of the patients there, themselves twisted in pain or marooned in bed or wheel chair but smiling and laughing
and doing what twisting moves they could muster,
but each one enjoying.
The other hospital workers and cleaners, they too, twisted behind their masks. Twisted. And smiled. And twisted again.
Oh, what delight.
There, I playfully but seriously and also tearfully thought, there I saw SAINTS in action, SAINTS IN DANCE. There I saw the dance of life.
Chubby Checker sang, “Let’s twist again, like we did last summer.” And the people did.
It may be that there will be no next summer for some of them.
But this summer or autumn or winter or whatever time of year
they may be in, today, at this time, the Grace of Dance was with them and the Dance of Grace.
May each of them and all of us when You will it so, may we dance or twist or waltz or tango to Your eternal home.
Thinking of TODOS LOS SANTOS and TODOS LOS MUERTOS,
as we start this new month of November, I hear Michelle Pfieffer whisper the song she sang in Murder on the Orient Express, expressing thoughts of her character who lost her little girl.
NEVER FORGET, Michelle promises, she will always remember:
“Please, will you come home? Will you stay with me?
Say you’ll laugh, say you’ll understand, Say you’ll dance with me.
Say you’ll smile your silly smile for me, Say you’ll hold me
in your arms so sweet, will you come home? will you come
home to me, home, my love.
We will never forget you, you will never leave.
In our hearts we kept you, you’ll be safe.
you’ll remember all the days of summer sun
hold me close in dark November before the winter comes.
Tell me all the things you wish for, tell me all that you would
want to live for, when you come home, when you come home
to me, home, my love.
All the days of sorrow will vanish in tomorrow
You can count on me, my love, to be here.
We will all be ready, love and kindness steady
We will never forget you, You are home, my love.”