I think that it is a sad state of affairs when we see the obligations for beautiful solemnities like that of All Saints abrogated simply because they happen to fall on either a Saturday, or, in today's case, a Monday. Have we become so lazy that we find it a sacrifice to assist at Mass on back-to-back days? We think nothing of hauling off the kids to soccer, basketball, cheerleading, band or football practices. We are very religious in adhering to our workout regimen at the gym. Would it really be such a terrible burden to give Our Lord one more hour during the week?
It certainly did not burden the souls in Bagdad who courageously assisted at Mass yesterday. Inasmuch as yesterday was Sunday, for the faithful in Iraq, even a simple walk to assist at the Holy Sacrifice can lead to tragedy. We take for granted the fact that we can hop into our cars and SUVs and drive to our parishes for Mass, knowing with near-certainty that we won't face artillery, let alone masked gunmen. For the martyrs of Bagdad, yesterday was their ultimate witness. They testified with their blood what several hundred of their ancestors did in North Africa in the early days of the Church when they boldly proclaimed that "we cannot live without Sunday."
In my little corner of South Texas, it was comforting to see the room that we use for Daily Mass filled to near-capacity with folks who came to Mass, not to satisfy an obligation that had been abrogated simply because it fell on a Monday, but because of their love for God. We recited the entrance and communion antiphons and chanted the parts of the Mass. The homily was excellent. Our parochial vicar made a rather poignant observation. Tomorrow, he said, we will remember All Souls Day. However, in many cultures, the "Day of the Dead" seems to overtake th Solemnity of All Saints. Yet, today we celebrate those who are already beholding the face of God, the known canonized and beatified and those whose sanctity is known only to God. It is the day when we celebrate the white-robed martyrs and the company of saints and blesseds who make up the Church Triumphant. These men, women and children who lived heroic lives teach us by their selfless examples of faith and martyrdom. They pray for us so that when we complete the course of our earthly journey, we may join them in their ceaseless chorus.
I pray that the brave clergy and laity martyred in yesterday's heinous act join that white-robed army of martyrs. May their courageous witness inspire us to never take the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for granted.