Comfort My People — November blessings

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre

I enjoy the season of fall the most, and for this reason November is among my favorite months of the year. From saints to pumpkins, from falling leaves to wearing long sleeves, from the comfort food of fall to visiting cemeteries and enjoying the cherished memories of departed loved ones, November is upon us.

November begins by asking us to remember to rejoice in the saints and to pray for the dead and concludes by inviting us to approach God with thankful hearts.

Perhaps one of the most noticeable things that occurs during November is that nature begins to slip deeper into its winter slumber, and many living things begin to take upon themselves the “death” that is winter. Taking its cue from this “death” of the world of nature that surrounds us, one of the titles that November bears in the Church is the “Month of the Dead.”

Ushered in by the celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, November is the month during which the Church invites us in a heightened way to remember and to pray for all of our beloved dead. All Saints’ Day focuses on the countless known and unknown saints who are in heaven and enjoy God’s presence. However, there are those who have died and are being purified of the last vestiges of sin before entering heaven, and the focus of All Souls’ Day is our responsibility to pray for those who are in the final stage of purification, or purgatory, before entering heaven.

“The Order of Christian Funerals” states, “We believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death” (no.87). Therefore, during the month of November, we are all called to offer special prayers for our beloved dead in the final stage of purification from the imperfection of sin so that they might enter the perfection that is heaven. Through Masses, our prayers and good works offered for them, we can assist them in this process.

To pray for the dead is one aspect of our call during November. Another opportunity is to pass on our wonderful memories and stories of departed family members to the generations that follow us. To pass on stories of the faith lived by those who have died is to pass on the faith that has been entrusted to us by these very same people.

To pass on to future generations the memories of departed family members is to recognize that death is not the final victor because love is eternal. To pass on these memories and stories is to give future generations the important knowledge of their family and their faith.

November again invites us to begin or to continue telling these stories of departed loved ones to those who have not heard them or to recall these stories with those who lived alongside them. To remember and to pray for the dead is a powerful thing, and in it, peace, love and joy can be found.

The end of November focuses our attention on our call to approach God with thankful hearts. The fourth Thursday in November is our national day of Thanksgiving to God. I remember reading somewhere that one of the keys to being happy in life is to always be thankful. The more I thought and prayed about this, the more I realized it to be true.

Those who find great joy in life, despite the challenging and difficult circumstances they face, are those who are nonetheless always thankful for all the many blessings God has poured into their lives. We all have challenges in life, but in addition to these difficulties, we have received greatly from the kindness of the Lord, and for this we must always be thankful.

Thanksgiving Day and the days surrounding it are a wonderful time to thank God in a special way for our faith, for our family and friends, for our country and for all the many blessings that he bestows upon us. I wish to all wonderful celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and a Thanksgiving Day that is filled with faith, family, friends, food and gratitude to God for them all! Happy Thanksgiving!!

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