High School-aged students from across the Diocese of Tyler are invited to attend the 2015 “To the Heart” Retreat, Fr. Justin Braun, director of youth ministry, has announced.

The theme “To the Heart” is to not only to focus on keeping Christ in our heart, but also to live out our baptismal call as Catholics to witness to the truth from our hearts that are filled by the Holy Spirit. This is why we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful…”

When non-Catholics come to a Mass of Christian Burial, they often comment that Catholic funerals are the most beautiful funerals. Perhaps they are moved by the ritual, or the vestments, or the emphasis on praying for the beloved deceased, or maybe even the music and the chant. When my mother died in September 2005, Fr. McLaughlin and Fr. White celebrated the funeral rites along with several priests, seminarians and faithful of the Diocese of Tyler. My non-Catholic family members said they had never before experienced such a moving tribute. Some even said they wanted to become Catholic. It was a powerful way for my sister and me and the whole family to say goodbye, to pray for the eternal rest of my mother’s soul, and to turn to God for consolation and guidance.

The 27th national collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious will be held December 13-14 in the Diocese of Tyler. The annual, parish-based appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington and benefits more than 35,000 senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests.

Last year, the Diocese of Tyler contributed $36,499.56 to this collection. Women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may benefit from the Retirement Fund for Religious.

The contrast between the feast of All Saints and the memorial of All Souls is stark: On November 1, the liturgical colors are festive white and/or gold which is a sign of the rejoicing in the heroic lives of the saints; but on November 2, the standard color is purple or black signifying Christian grief and the need to pray for the souls of our beloved dead.

Why would the Church put these two commemorations so close together? It almost seems like too much of an emotional roller coaster. While we are indeed reminded on All Saints Day that there are some who already dwell in the heavenly abode, All Souls Day reminds us that there are still many who are being purified of their sinful or earthly attachments in order to enjoy fully the Beatific Vision, that is, perfect union with the Most Holy Trinity. All Souls Day reminds us that there is an intermediate state between earthly life and heavenly life.

On November 4, 2014, citizens of our great state will again head to the polls to make their choice for candidates to lead Texas and our nation into the future.

In the week before the election, the time is opportune for us to reflect on our beliefs and responsibilities as Catholic voters. By our baptism, Christians are committed to following Jesus Christ and to be “salt for the earth, light for the nations.”

While faithful Christians may in good conscience disagree on a variety of political matters, we must never forget that our very future as a society depends on our ability and courage to respect and defend the dignity of all human beings.