I confess that I am trying to psych myself up for November. The color of autumn is gone, temperatures are dropping, the earth is “bare” and the possibility of icy roads looms ever larger.
It’s not all dreary by any means. However late at night and changed by cold the games might be, baseball fans can enjoy watching the Yankees win the World Series. We Bills fans can jump on the wagon of our surging team. And, of course, who doesn’t look forward to Thanksgiving and reunion with friends and loved ones?
For all of that, the main reason I look forward to November is the invitation it provides people of our faith tradition to be mindful of our relationships with our sisters and brothers — both living and deceased. On All Saints Day, we celebrate our unity with all those who have been baptized into his dying and rising. On All Souls Day, we give thanks for and pray for the eternal rest of all those who have gone before us in faith.
I invite you to take these two themes to prayer with you throughout the month of November — at least until the season of Advent, which begins on Nov. 29.
First, consider the people who share the journey with you — spouse, children, parents and relatives, friends, coworkers, fellow parishioners, the people of our diocese. Range as far and freely as you will to be in touch with the people who mean something special to you. Because they inspire you. Or understand you. Or console you. Or relax you.
Raise them up to the Lord in your prayer. Thank God for the gift they are in your life. Pray that God might smile on their lives, ease their burdens and grant them the peace and healing they might desire. Ask the Lord for the grace to respond to their kindness by sharing your good gifts with them. If your relationship needs some reconciliation, healing or new strength, ask for such gifts. You might even think about dropping a note or making a call to one or another of the people you so remember to tell them that they are much a part of your prayer this month and why they are.
Second, a thought about those who have gone before us in faith. It’s good to pray for their fullness of life that whatever healing or deepening or purification that may have been needed at the moment of their death may by God’s mercy be offered them.
It’s also a source of blessing for us to remember and thank God for the good gifts we received through them when they were with us on this earth — the gifts of life, nurture, encouragement, understanding, forgiveness, healing, good example, healthy challenges, love and companionship.
For many of us, such remembrances of our mothers and fathers in faith can carry with them the awareness that when they passed to eternal life our relationships with them were not all that we hoped they might be.
If such is the case with you, I do encourage you to place before the Lord that sense of incompleteness. Ask the Lord to heal whatever is wounded, to mend what is broken, to pour soothing oil on what is painful.
One final suggestion. If it is possible for you, you might think about visiting the place of burial of one or some of the deceased for whom you decide to pray during the month of November.
Please pray for me, as I do for you.
Peace to all.