On a liturgical note: November

By Canon Philip Gillespie

November can be a dark month – when we begin to take into our hearts (and into our bones!) the fact that the longer evenings and warmer days of summer and autumn are behind us and that, with the fading of the leaves on the trees, winter is upon us.

Even as the colour of nature 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 2 November. This same sense of sombre remembrance is picked up again on the 12th when the nation keeps its annual silence and the poppies fall once more.

And yet November opens 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 – thus making the last day of October All Hallows' Eve, hence Hallowe'en) speaks of Light, Happiness and Peace, and of that Blessedness which is the fruit and result of a close following of the way of Christ and His Gospel.

This not only invites us to reflect and be truly grateful for all those saints of God who have graced past generations (some of whom have been canonised by the Church, others not); it also challenges and invites us to be those saints in our modern world.

Not the plaster saints or holier-than-thou figurines that run the risk of putting people off rather than attracting them to the Way of Christ. No! We are called to be those people who actually believe the words of Saint John in the Second Reading on the Feast of All Saints – 'Think of the love the Father has lavished on us…' – and to be those people who, having thought, live accordingly.

As the old saying goes, 'It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.' So may you light a candle of Christ-like goodness in your parish, community and family in the dark weeks ahead.