As you read this post, bear in mind it's the month of the Holy Souls still.
Friday November 22, 2013 was the fiftieth anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy. Love him or hate him, very few people expected nor desired him to be shot in Dealey Plaza during his trip to Dallas in the fall of 1963. I mean, you just don't shoot people, never mind shoot the President of the United States, the epitome of peaceful democratic transitions.
Father Z. had an interesting post on where people were when the President was shot. I mean, I wasn't even alive. Only God knew me. But it still drove me to tears, because it truly is the day of reckoning. I am of the opinion that modern society changed as a result of his assassination.
We Catholics put our stock in JFK, for he was one of us and had ascended to the highest office in the land. Catholicism had been legitimized, especially after the Houston speech which showed that the US would not be subjected to "Rome rule." It's been said that next to images of the Sacred Heart there was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
That was a mistake, for it meant that the Gospel would not penetrate our every action in the years after his election. We would not "force our beliefs on others," not understanding that there is the eternal law preceding their expression in Catholic doctrine. Birth control is a matter of one's individual conscience. True as far as it goes, but one's conscience as a Roman Catholic should be formed properly; knowing what the Church teaches but forming one's conscience otherwise is nuts. Abortion is a women's right, because it's her private action. Wow. How different this country is, and I think it is an effect of the shock and trauma the Catholics went through in particular.
Back to Father Z: the comments just overwhelmed me. The faithful today largely do not understand that souls most be cleansed so that they might enter the Kingdom of God and that the souls in Purgatory cannot do anything to help themselves. We must ask God to have mercy on them so that they might rest in peace, through the intercession of the saints.
In 1963, that seems to have been a different story. There's not one period in history that can be classified as a Golden Age of Catholicism. I mean, the End Times began as soon as Our Lord ascended into Heaven. But people still knew that we needed to pray for the dead, even if the catechesis behind it wasn't great. I most appreciated that a priest, after saying one Mass that day, immediately turned around to sing a Requiem Mass, for the Mass is the highest form of prayer. (It's also an act of charity to pray for one's enemies.) The comment of the sister also struck me. "May God have mercy on his soul, for he was a terrible Catholic."
Aren't we all.