November – the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Nature reminds us at this time of year of the changing season. The beautiful copper-red leaves changing to shades of yellow and gold and then falling to the ground. Sadly they are no longer beautiful after being trodden under foot and waiting to be swept away – hopefully to provide good compost.
The bare trees remind us that death is part of life. After the winter, the compost will invigorate new growth and life in the spring. The Church’s Liturgical Year gives us changing seasons too.
- May is devoted to Our Lady;
- June to the Sacred Heart of Jesus;
- October devoted specially to praying the Holy Rosary – honouring Mary but contemplating on the birth, mission, passion, death, resurrection and ascension into glory of her Son; and Mary’s coronation as Queen of heaven and earth.
On the first of November the Church celebrates the feast of All Saints, when we think of all the women and men raised to the altar who are now part of the heavenly host singing the praises of the Lord. The Church has honoured them for their faithful loyalty to Christ and some as martyrs, laying down their lives for Christ and His Church. They are an example and reminder by their lives to us, who are still on our earthly journey that we too, are called to be saints. We must never forget those countless women and men who, though not officially saints, have led exemplary lives and are examples of “ good Christians.” Basil Cardinal Hume said: “Every saint had a past and every sinner has a future.”
On the second of November the Church celebrates the feast of All Souls. The theology and tradition of these two feasts is therefore, closely linked. Prayers of intercession and prayers included within the Eucharistic prayers, point to the ongoing practice of remembering the dead and praying for their souls. The whole Church is linked to all those who are awaiting eternal life with God, confident in God’s mercy, and sure of the power of the resurrection. In the West, the origins of this tradition go back to Isidore of Seville (d. 636), and to Odilo of Cluny who fixed the date as 2 November in 998. This gives RCIA catechists the ideal opportunity to talk about the various devotions and the theology attached to each of them, during the year.