What are you doing here!? Why aren't you at Mass?
Hopefully you've already gone. Otherwise it's straight to hell for you.
Today is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. The obligation is going to Mass.
Don't think you can let this slide because you're all crashing from your sugar rush from All Hallow's Eve. Don't get confused by the loosy goosey, substitute Saturday for Sunday Mass, 'New Rules'. Your lump of flesh needs to be in a pew with a priest in front of it today.
Halloween is short for All Hallow's Eve. That's because we now have two whole days of hallowing ahead of us.
Today we honor the saints. These are people we know for a fact are in heaven. It's a REALLY long list. We read part of the list at the Mass you're supposed to be attending.
It used to be a short list. At first it was just the martyrs, and only two of them at that. Just St. Stephen, the first martyr and John the Baptist.
St. Stephen was out preaching away, shortly after Jesus ascended back to heaven. The mob wasn't very happy with what he had to say and they stoned him to death. Saul, who was about to become St. Paul any second, was in the crowd holding cloaks for people, thus freeing up the rotator cuffs for those who needed a full range of motion to throw their stones. St. Stephen is the patron saint of people who have headaches.
St. Paul is the patron saint of tentmakers. Maybe he kept the cloaks.
St. John the Baptist was imprisoned, but not for his riverside enterprise. It was entirely personal. It's that nasty Herod at the helm again. Or rather one of the nasty Herod's. This isn't the same Herod who ordered the death of the Holy Innocents when Jesus was born. That Herod is Herod the Great.
Herod the Great was the builder of the temple of Jerusalem, although he angered the Jews by sticking a giant Roman eagle on the top of it when it was done. The Jews took it down, and he found out exactly who did that and had them executed. Herod the Great was officially called 'The King of the Jews'. So when the Wise Men showed up asking the king where they might find the 'new king' (how wise was that?!! I guess we can't call them the Foolish Kings since they did manage to find Jesus, but...holy cow!), Herod went ballistic and had all the male babies that fit in the right age range slaughtered. All in a day's work for Herod.
An angel comes to warn Joseph about this mess and Joseph takes the Holy Family off to Egypt until after Herod is dead. Unfortunately, Herod is never really gone.
Herod the Great the King of the Jews had three sons. (He had a few more sons but he had them executed. Ho-hum.) When the first Herod died the kingdon was divided between the three of them.
They were all named Herod. So George Foreman isn't the first guy to really confuse everyone by naming all his kids George.
The first Herod boy, Herod Jr., is in power for ten years and then is booted out because he was just lame and the Romans got rid of him. He did effect the Holy Family, though, as Joseph moved Mary and Jesus north to Galilee to stay low profile.
Here's where John the Baptist comes in. Herod's cousin divorces her husband and marries Herod. Not the one the Romans didn't like, the second is this Herod who married his divorced cousin and we don't care about the other one.
Are you still with me here? There's the George Foreman Herod and his three sons. We're now talking about son number two.
John the Baptist had a fit about this divorce and Herod Jr. Jr. had him thrown into prison. Then during a party Herod asks the divorcee to dance for him, he'll give her anything she wants. Her mother sees a great way to shut John the Baptist up and Salome the divorcee takes her mother's advice and asks for the head of John the Baptist. It's made for some fabulously gory works of art.
This is also the Herod who presided at the trial of Jesus.
But it is not the Herod who executed James the Elder, also known as St. James the Greater. He could have been called St. James the Taller, or St. James the chosen by Jesus before the other James.
And it is also not the Herod who coined the phrase "Christian" when he referred to St. Paul as such. That Herod is two Herod's later than the John the Baptist, trial of Jesus Herod.
These last two were not more sons of the George Foreman Herod. They are nephews. Riding the coat tails, I say.
St. James the Greater, by the way, was the son of Salome. Not THAT Salome.
I've totally lost my train of thought. What was my point here? Make sure you go to Mass and honor the saints. I'll be here, lost in a maze of Herods. Someone throw me a rope.