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That Time When The Wall Is Thin | KFP Articles
That Time When The Wall Is Thin PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 November 2012 21:42

The feasts at this time of the year have grown to be among my favorite.  There truly is something special at work in the Church's calendar that is tied to the sacramental reality in creation.  Msgr. Barr has written on how the "wall is thin" at this time of year where the living breath side by side with the dead in certain places and certain times.  O-Riordan, in his book on Irish Catholicism, wrote about his father who would talk about seeing deceased relatives in the home during these special nights.  This idea is hard for the modern western mind to accept.  But the reality, which is typically talked about in a descriptive fashion, can not be too far of a reach when one considers the doctrine of Communion of the Saints.  The real question regards what to make of this language that the "wall is thin."  Fr. Robert Barron touched on this question at the end of a long but very good article on the history of Halloween.  When asked if there can be such a thing as a thinner wall or veil he gave the following response.

I don’t know precisely the metaphysical precedents that one would use to justify the belief that there are on specific days thicker and thinner veils between the natural and supernatural realms. It seems esoteric and speculative.  I do think that the reality that such a perspective represents has great power as a narrative that explains for some folks how they think that the natural and the supernatural interact with one another. Is it true? I don’t know how one would adjudicate such a claim definitively. As such, it remains a supposition or a possibility.  The Catholic Faith describes natural and supernatural realities existing in a relationship of communion or co-inherence that is called sacramental. This means that because of the Incarnation of God in Christ, natural realities can express supernatural realities. Physical realities can truly be bearers of divine grace.
Fr. Barron is somewhat dismissive of the idea but provides a good starting point when he recognizes the power that this narrative provides for opening our hearts to the sacramental reality of creation.  This time of year with the leaves falling, and other green life is dying, naturally symbolizes themes related to death.  Analogies about this are made quite often and in very clear ways.  For example, elderly folks are often spoken of as being in the autumn of their life.  But, most trees and plant life that you see do not die but simply do not produce until the spring when hope becomes the evident theme.  What's so wonderful about this is the sacramental power of creation to touch our soul with this meaning.  The sacramental power of nature speaks directly to our heart.  It can be understood as a window through which supernatural realities can be brought close to us.  Perhaps, there is nothing in teh claim that the veil is thin at this time of year that needs to be proven.  Nor can such a reality be reduced to just a helpful narrative.  When it comes to sacramental realities I'm inclined to think that the best response is to let them speak to your heart.  Poetry might help uncover the nature of this relationship but no logic will properly adjudicate it. 
For me its sufficient to know that the veil between the two worlds is thin at this time of year.  The memories of my grandparents and other deceased family members are very present to me now.  It turns my heart to prayer. 

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