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The Story of the Solemnity of All Saints

The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century
commemoration of “all the martyrs.” In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders
plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagon-loads of bones and reinterred
them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the
shrine as a Christian church. According to Venerable Bede, the pope intended “that the memory of all
the saints might in the future be honored in the place which had formerly been dedicated to the
worship not of gods but of demons” (On the Calculation of Time).

But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in
May. Many Eastern Churches still honor all the saints in the spring, either during the Easter season or
immediately after Pentecost.

How the Western Church came to celebrate this feast, now recognized as a solemnity, in November is a
puzzle to historians. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did
his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted that date in the ninth century.

All Souls Day

All Souls Day is a holy day set aside for honoring the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic
Church, but it is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and a few other denominations of
Christianity. The Anglican church is the largest protestant church to celebrate the holy day. Most
protestant denominations do not recognize the holiday and disagree with the theology behind it.

According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is
heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second
is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The
intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still
in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.

St. Charles Borromeo, Italian San Carlo Borromeo, (born October 2, 1538, Arona, duchy of Milan—died
November 3, 1584, Milan; canonized 1610; feast day November 4), cardinal and archbishop who was
one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation in Italy. He is the patron saint of bishops,
cardinals, seminarians, and spiritual leaders.

Borromeo received a doctorate in civil and canon law from the university of Pavia in 1559. The following
year his uncle, Pope Pius IV, appointed him a cardinal and archbishop of Milan. Chief among his curial
functions was heading the Consulta, a position that made him secretary of state to Pius. The pope
leaned upon him heavily in directing the third convocation of the Council of Trent (1562–63). When the
council closed, Borromeo served in executing its decrees and was largely instrumental in bringing out
the Roman catechism in 1566. Also at this time he was actively sponsoring the conversion of Swiss
Protestants. Upon the death of his uncle, Borromeo took part in the conclave that elected Pius V (1566).

Thereafter Borromeo resided at Milan, where serious administrative problems confronted him. He
regularly visited his more than 1,000 widely scattered parishes, which fell under the jurisdictions of King
Philip II of Spain and also of Venice, Genoa, and Novara. Seeking to apply the edicts of the Council of
Trent to his own diocese, Borromeo worked diligently to eradicate the sale of indulgences, to reform
monasteries, and to simplify the ornate interiors of many of the churches. He fostered clerical education
to combat the threat of Protestantism and established seminaries and colleges at Milan and in the
Italian cities of Inverigo and Celano. Colleges for lay students also were erected and entrusted to the
Jesuits. His last undertaking was the opening of the college at Ascona, Switzerland, in 1584.
Born in Rollesbroich in the German Eifel on November 28, 1852, Helena Stollenwerk was baptized the
following day. Already as a young child she felt called to missionary work, inspired by the annuals of the
Holy childhood Association (now Papal Work for Children). At the same time she had an inclination
towards adoration and contemplation. The sense of this two-fold vocation was a source of joy and spirit
of self-giving. At the age of ten she became a promoter of the Holy Childhood Association. She
maintained the task for twenty years, until she entered in Steyl. The Association annuals were her
“window on the world”, through which the plight of children, especially in China, filled her with concern
and missionary longing. A further source of nourishment for Helena’s vocation was the Eucharist.

Helena searched for a religious order with foundations in China but found none. In addition, the
Kulturkampf forced many congregations to close their German houses and seek possibilities for life and
apostolic activity in other countries. She needed a great deal of patience. Tirelessly, she continued to
search for an order where she could fulfill her missionary vocation.

In 1882 she came into contact with Arnold Janssen who had founded his mission institute in Steyl. At the
end of December that year she went to Steyl, although there was no women’s congregation as yet.
Arnold Janssen was still struggling with difficulties of the mission house for men, founded in September
1875. Although he was thinking of founding a women’s institute, and said as much in his conversation
with Helena, he could not make any promises.

Trusting in God, however, and filled with the longing to be sent to China as a missionary, Helena left her
home and her inheritance to take a place on the lowest rung of the social ladder. A mature woman of
30, she worked as a kitchen maid in the mission house of the Society of the Divine Word.

It turned out to be a long period of waiting, a true desert experience, during which her vocation became
clearer and firmer. She persevered there for a full seven years, doing the lowliest and heaviest work,
accompanied by three other women who, like her, were hoping for the fulfillment of their missionary

Finally on December 8, 1889, the mission congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit was founded.
The “kitchen maids” became postulants and after some time began their novitiate. There was no
experienced guide available, so Arnold Janssen asked Sr. Maria, as Helena was now called, to be novice
directress, although she was still a novice herself. At the same time, she had the responsibility for the
entire community. In March 1894, she took vows.

In November 1895 the first missionary sisters were sent to Argentina, in 1897 another group left for
Togo. Sr. Maria prepared the sisters for their departure but she herself was not sent out. Gradually, the
recognition matured that she was called to be co-foundress of the congregation and her place was in
Steyl. China, however, continued to hold first place in her missionary heart. As she grew older, her
second vocation became stronger, namely to contemplation and adoration. When the cloistered
adoration sisters were founded on December 8, 1896, she hoped to be among them. But an adverse
situation prevented the fulfillment of that wish and she remained as “mother” and spiritual companion
of the missionary sisters. She dedicated herself totally to that task, cultivating in her sisters the fire of
love and the mission zeal that consumed her own life.

Two years later, however, at the wish of Arnold Janssen she did transfer to the adoration sisters. Once
again she went down to the lowest rung of the ladder: she the co-foundress and first leader of the
Mission Congregation became a novice and followed those whom she had formerly initiated into the
first stages of religious life. But during her first year of novitiate, she fell earnestly sick. On January 31,
1900, on her deathbed, she took the vows as an adoration sister. Three days later, February 3, 1900, she
died. Her last words were: “Jesus, I die for you.” On May 7, 1995, she was “beatified” (called “Blessed”)
by the Church.

Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe marks the culmination of the
Catholic Church’s liturgical year. Over the past two weeks, scriptural readings have revolved around an
eschatological theme or the “end times” and how a follower of Christ must anticipate and prepare for
the coming again of Christ. Today, we are reminded that we must look forward to that day when Christ
will come again in glory.

This liturgical observance was established 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Celebrations are held in different
countries to celebrate this feast. In some parishes and communities in the Philippines, a Eucharistic
procession is held. They adorn the altars elegantly and enthrone an image of Jesus dressed like a king.
However, a Christian must never forget that Jesus’ idea of kingship is different from how the world
understands it. In the gospels, Jesus declared that his kingdom is not of this world and that in the
kingdom of God, kingship is about service and solidarity with the marginalized and the oppressed.
Kingship is not about sitting on a throne; it is about being with the poor and the suffering and placing
ourselves in their service.

Jesus said words and deeds God’s kingdom is within us and we are challenged by Jesus to proclaim in
with our lives. We are also invited to reflect Jesus’ love, mercy, and compassion to the oppressed and
marginalized in our society for it is to these “little ones” that the kingdom of God belongs.

Last Sunday, during the celebration of the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis said: “In the poor, we
find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).” God uses their weakness and
nothingness to offer his saving love to us. “And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are
the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are passport to paradise,” the Pope said.

We pray that we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe this year, our Christian
communities will not only focus on the adorning of our altars but also on preparing our hearts and our
entire selves for the coming again in glory of Christ who is our King. And the best way to prepare for this
coming is by recognizing and meeting Jesus in the poor and the suffering, in the oppressed and in the
sinners around us.

The Liturgical Calendar begins every year during the month of November on the First Sunday of Advent
and runs through to the Solemnity of Christ the King.

The "Lectionary," the Mass readings from the Holy Bible, follows a Sunday cycle and a weekday cycle.
The Liturgical Calendar follows a three-year cycle, each year being represented by the letters, A, B, and
C. During the year A cycle, the Gospel of Matthew is the primary Gospel that is used for the readings. In
year B, Mark is the primary Gospel. In year C, Luke is the primary Gospel. The Gospel of John is
proclaimed on particular Sundays in each of the years.

In each cycle of the Liturgical Calendar, you will find six Seasons:

 Advent
 Christmas
 Lent
 Triduum
 Easter
 Ordinary Time

During the year, in addition to the Sunday worship, the Church also celebrates Solemnities, Feasts, and
Memorials, which may be on any day of the week. These occur during the year to commemorate special
events or persons that are highly revered by the Catholic Church
Advent season

Advent is the season of the year leading up to Christmas. It is observed with various traditions and
rituals by Catholics and other liturgical groups such as Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. In recent
years, Advent celebrations of one type or another have been added to many evangelical services as well.

The word advent itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.” Christians often speak of
Christ’s “first advent” and “second advent”; that is, His first and second comings to earth. His first
advent would be the Incarnation—Christmastime.

The Advent season lasts for four Sundays. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, or the
nearest Sunday to November 30. Advent ends on Christmas Eve and thus is not considered part of the
Christmas season. The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an
anticipation of His second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their
Savior to come again.

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not observe Advent per se, but they do keep a long fast before
Christmas. In the West, Advent has developed a more festive tone, although many churches also keep a
fast and focus on prayer and penitence akin to what takes place during the Lenten season (sometimes,
Advent is even called “Little Lent”). Advent is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for
the eventual return of Christ (and the judgment He will bring to the world).

Churches that observe Advent usually decorate their sanctuaries in the liturgical color of Advent, purple
(or in some cases royal blue). Some churches change the color to rose on the third or fourth Sunday of
Advent to signifya greater emphasis on the joy of the season.

One of the most common Advent traditions involves the use of evergreen wreaths, branches, and trees.
On the first Sunday of Advent, churches and homes are decorated with green to symbolize the eternal
life that Jesus brings. An Advent wreath—an evergreen circle with four colored candles surrounding a
white one in the middle—is placed in a prominent spot. The candles are then lighted one at a time, on
successive Sundays. The first candle is the candle of “hope” or “expectation.” The three remaining
candles on the perimeter are given various meanings depending on the church. On Christmas Eve or
Christmas Day, the center white candle is lighted; this is the “Christ Candle,” a reminder that Jesus, the
Light of the Word, has come.
Advent calendars, used to count down the days till Christmas, are popular in many homes. An Advent
calendar contains a number of covered “windows” that are opened, one a day, until Christmas Day. Each
open window reveals a picture related to the season or a poem or a Bible verse or a treat of some kind.
Many parents find that an Advent calendar is a good way to teach their children the true meaning of
Christmas—although there are secular versions of the calendars, too.

Should Christians observe Advent? This is a matter of personal conviction. Here is the biblical principle:
“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of
them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the
Lord” (Romans 14:5–6).

There is certainly nothing wrong with commemorating Jesus’ birth and anticipating His return—such
commemoration and anticipation should be an everyday part of our lives. Are Christians required to
observe Advent? No. Does observing Advent make one a better Christian or more acceptable to God?
No. Can celebrating Advent be a good reminder of what the season is truly all about? Yes, and therein
lies its greatest value.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX's solemn declaration, "Ineffabilis Deus," clarified with finality the long-held belief
of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin.

Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of
God. That is, She received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.

Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, She is held up by the Church as a
model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity, in Her willingness to accept the Plan of God for

Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call, to their own vocation, in order to carry out
God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time.

Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting is the
response required of all Christians to God’s Plan.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to
humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has
been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill.

“The word of the Lord came to me thus: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were
born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you." (Jeremiah 1:5-6)

The Christmas seasonalso called the festive season] the holiday season (mainly in the U.S. and Canada or
simply the holidays, is an annually recurring period recognized in many Western and Western-influenced
countries that is generally considered to run from late November to early January. It is defined as
incorporating at least Christmas, and usually New Year, and sometimes various other holidays and
festivals. It also is associated with a period of shopping which comprises a peak season for the retail
sector (the "Christmas (or holiday) shopping season"), and a period of sales at the end of the season (the
"January sales"). Christmas window displays and Christmas tree lighting ceremonies when trees
decorated with ornaments and light bulbs are illuminated, are traditions in many areas.

In the denominations of Western Christianity, the term "Christmas season" is considered synonymous
with Christmastide] a term associated with Yuletide, which runs from December 25 (Christmas Day) to
January 5 (Epiphany Eve), popularly known as the 12 Days of Christmas. However, as the economic
impact involving the anticipatory lead-up to Christmas Day grew in America and Europe into the 19th
and 20th centuries, the term "Christmas season" began to become synonymous instead with the
traditional Christian Advent season the period observed in Western Christianity from the fourth Sunday
before Christmas Day until Christmas Day itself. The term "Advent calendar" survives in secular Western
parlance as a term referring to a countdown to Christmas Day from the beginning of December.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, as the Christian-associated Christmas holiday became increasingly
secularized and central to American economics and culture while religio-multicultural sensitivity rose,
generic references to the season that omitted the word "Christmas" became more common in the
corporate and public sphere of the United States which has caused a semantics controversy that
continues to the present. By the late 20th century, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the new African
American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa began to be considered in the U.S. as being part of the "holiday
season", a term that as of 2013 has become equally or more prevalent than "Christmas season" in U.S.
sources to refer to the end-of-the-year festive period. "Holiday season" has also spread in varying
degrees to Canada however, in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the phrase "holiday season" is not
widely understood to be synonymous with the Christmas–New Year period, and is often instead
associated with summer holidays.

Arnold Janssen was born on November 5, 1837 in Goch, a small city in lower Rhineland (Germany). The
second of ten children, his parents instilled in him a deep devotion to religion. He was ordained a priest
on August 15, 1861 for the diocese of Muenster and was assigned to teach natural sciences and
mathematics in a secondary school in Bocholt. There he was known for being a strict but just teacher.
Due to his profound devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he was named Diocesan Director for the
Apostleship of Prayer. This apostolate encouraged Arnold to open himself to Christians of other

Little by little he became more aware of the spiritual needs of people beyond the limits of his own
diocese, developing a deep concern for the universal mission of the church. He decided to dedicate his
life to awaking in the German church its missionary responsibility. With this in mind, in 1873 he resigned
from his teaching post and soon after founded The Little Messenger of the Sacred Heart. This popular
monthly magazine presented news of missionary activities and it encouraged German-speaking
Catholics to do more to help the missions.

These were difficult times for the Catholic Church in Germany. Bismark unleashed the “Kulturkampf»
with a series of anti-Catholic laws, which led to the expulsion of priests and religious and to the
imprisonment of many bishops. In this chaotic situation Arnold Janssen proposed that some of the
expelled priests could go to the foreign missions or at least help in the preparation of missionaries.
Slowly but surely, and with a little prodding from the Apostolic Vicar of Hong Kong, Arnold discovered
that God was calling him to undertake this difficult task. Many people said that he was not the right man
for the job, or that the times were not right for such a project. Arnold's answer was, “The Lord
challenges our faith to do something new, precisely when so many things are collapsing in the Church.”

With the support of a number of bishops, Arnold inaugurated the mission house on September 8, 1875
in Steyl, Holland, and thus began the Divine Word Missionaries. Already on March 2, 1879 the first two
missionaries set out for China. One of these was Joseph Freinademetz.

The volunteers at the mission house included women as well as men. From practically the very
beginning, a group of women, including Blessed Maria Helena Stollenwerk, served the community. But
their wish was to serve the mission as Religious Sisters. The faithful, selfless service they freely offered,
and a recognition of the important role women could play in missionary outreach, urged Arnold to
found the mission congregation of the “Servants of the Holy Spirit,” SSpS, on December 8, 1889. The first
Sisters left for Argentina in 1895.

Arnold died on January 15, 1909. His life was filled with a constant search for God's will, a great
confidence in divine providence, and hard work. That his work has been blessed is evident in the
subsequent growth of the communities he founded: more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries are
active in 63 countries, more than 3,800 missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit, and more than 400
Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration.

The Sinulog-Santo Niño Festival is an annual cultural and religious festival held on the third Sunday of
January in Cebu City, and is the centre of the Santo Niño Catholic celebrations in the Philippines.

The festival is considered to be first of most popular festivals in the Philippines, with every celebration of
the festival routinely attracting around 1 to 2 million people from all over the Philippines every year.[1]
Aside from the religious aspect of the festival, Sinulog is also famous for its street parties, usually
happening the night before and the night of the main festival.

Other places like Kabankalan City, Iloilo City, Aklan, Maasin City, Balingasag Misamis Oriental, Cagayan
de Oro City, Butuan City, and Southern Leyte also have their own version of the festival in honor of
Santo Niño.

The Santo Niño de Cebú (Cebuano: Balaang Bata sa Sugbo, Filipino: Batang Banal ng Cebu, Spanish:
Santo Niño de Cebú) is a Roman Catholic title of a statue of the Child Jesus in Cebu City of
Philippines.The image is venerated as miraculous by many Filipino Catholics. It is one of the oldest
Christian relics in the Philippines, originally given in 1521 as a gift by explorer Ferdinand Magellan to
Rajah Humabon and his wife when he landed on the island.

The statue measures approximately twelve inches tall, is made of a dark wood in baroque style and
depicts the Child Jesus as a king dressed like Spanish royalty. The expressions, accessories and hand
posture of Santo Nino de Cebu are similar to the Infant Jesus of Prague now located in Czech Republic. It
is believed that both statues originated from the same European source, with the devotion to Santo
Nino starting earlier of the two. The statue is clothed in rich fabrics, wears jewelry such as gilded neck
chain and bears imperial regalia including a gold crown, globus cruciger, and various sceptres mostly
donated by devotees.

The image received papal recognition on 28 April 1965, when Pope Paul VI issued a papal bull for the
Canonical Coronation of the statue and raised the church that houses it to a basilica status to mark the
400th anniversary of the first Christian mission and rediscovery of the statue in Cebu. The image has
historically attracted devotional worship in Philippines, attracting devotional worship, processions and
pilgrimage, with numerous Filipino pilgrims touching or kissing the foot of the statue's stand.There is an
annual feast every January on the third Sunday which is marked by fiesta, sinulog dancing in the streets,
and prayers to Senor Santo Nino statue.

The Holy Child's image is liturgically celebrated during weekly Mass, novenas and Christian holidays.
Along with the Black Nazarene statue of Jesus Christ, it is the most popular object of devotion in the
Philippines. The Santo Niño image is replicated in many homes and business establishments, with
different titles reinterpreted in various areas of the country. It is one of the most beloved and
recognizable cultuLal icons in the Philippines, with the original permanently encased within bulletproof
glass in a chapel at the Basílica Menor del Santo Niño.