November can be a dark month – when we begin to take into our hearts (and into our bones!) that the longer evenings and warm days of summer and autumn are well past and that, with the fading of the leaves on the trees, the winter is upon us.
Even as the colour of nature around us changes from the green of vibrant growth to the gold and russet of hibernation, the Liturgy seems to add to our despair by presenting us with thoughts of death and departure on the Feast of the Holy Souls on the 2nd of the month – a sense of sombre remembrance picked up again on the 11th as the nation keeps its annual silence and the poppies fall once again.
And yet November has opened with the solemn remembrance not of the power of darkness and decay, but of the triumph of the light – the true light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Solemnity of All Saints (or All Hallows as it is sometimes known – therefore making the last day of October All Hallows' Eve, which eventually became Hallowe'en) speaks of light, happiness and peace, and that blessedness which is the fruit and result of a close following of the way of Christ and His Gospel. It not only invites us to reflect and be truly grateful for all those saints of God who have graced past generations (some canonised by the Church, others not); it is also a challenge and an invitation to us to be those saints in our modern world.
Not the plaster saints or holier-than-thou figurines which run the risk of putting us off rather than attracting us to the Way of Christ. No, we are called to be those people who act on the words that Saint John spoke in the second reading on the Feast of All Saints – "Think of the love the Father has lavished on us" – and once we have thought, then actually live accordingly.
The old saying goes, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." May you light a candle of Christ-like goodness in your parish, community and family in these next few weeks.