On a liturgical note: November

By Canon Philip Gillespie

The month of November is linked in traditional devotion with particular prayer for the faithful departed – those, in the lovely words of Cardinal Newman, "whom I have loved and lost awhile".

Of course, although lost in the sense of not having that physical presence for us, they are never lost to God: they are, we pray, held very firmly and lovingly in the embrace of the Father, having that sight of the glory of the Trinity which fulfils our search for a place of light, happiness and peace.

It is the liturgy itself which gives this flavour of remembrance to the month of November – although as nature around us becomes darker and perhaps even a little hostile and threatening, it can chime in well with our natural feelings as the year draws to its close.

We begin by giving thanks for the light of Christ which shines brightly in and through all the saints of our tradition, many of whom are canonised and recognised by the Church. Moreover, there are doubtless many others who have enlightened and nurtured our lives, and individuals whose names we add to this great litany of the saints.

The second day, All Souls' Day, was dedicated to those whose journey into the fullness of light may not yet be completed; those for whom our hope is that "Masses on the earth and prayers in heaven, shall aid thee at the Throne of the most Highest", to quote John Henry Cardinal Newman's The Dream of Gerontius.

In our parishes, churches and indeed the seminary, the Pious List will be a very tangible reminder of the debt of gratitude and prayer we owe to those "who have gone before us marked with the Sign of Faith" – and a reassurance of the unity which is ours as the Church at prayer.