It”s November 1st, the great solemnity of All Saints, in which we celebrate the glory of all the saints who now enjoy eternal life with the Blessed Trinity. And tomorrow is the feast of All Souls, in which we call to mind and pray for the deceased, which Scripture describes as being a “holy and pious” thing to do (2 Macc. 12:36).
Taken together, these feasts do much to enhance our awareness of our connectedness in Christ, in what is called the “communion of saints.”
While November begins with a flourish, really the whole month has a distinctive character all its own. The readings at Mass walk us through the end times and the last judgment, culminating on the feast of Christ the King at the end of the month (and liturgical year). What I”d like to focus on briefly today, however, are three virtues that are especially significant this month. [more]
(1) Charity While charity is the greatest of virtues and always necessary, it takes on a particular significance this month. As alluded to above, it is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for the deceased. This particular act of charity is especially recommended this month.
Also, it”s a time of loving service to our neighbor. We see this at play in the various soup kitchens, collection drives, nursing home visits, and service projects that are undertaken as the weather gets harsher this time of year. These are called corporal works of mercy. Our Lord very pointedly reminds us that when we do these things for others, we are doing them for Him (Mt. 25:40).
(2) Generosity The acts of mercy and service mentioned above surely are also acts of generosity, as we give of our resources and, even more, of ourselves to others. Generosity literally means “full of giving life,” which stands in stark contrast to the wintry desolation of late November.
We may have to keep track of our monetary gifts for tax purposes, but we can”t keep a mental record of our acts of generosity. If we do that, then we weren”t really generous in the first place, as we”re expecting something in return.
Also, some of us may be really generous in giving to others, but out of pride or other reasons we don’2012-04-24 18:33:37′t always accept others” generosity well. The Christian, the recipient of God”s superabundant generosity, must be a conduit of the grace of Christ, able to give and receive easily.
(3) Gratitude The secular holiday of Thanksgiving gives us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we have received. We should strive to thank others often, even for little things. Such acts build virtue, and they create a more human, wholesome culture (or counterculture) in our midst.
Even more, we should make a point to thank God often: upon arising, throughout the day, at dinner, and before retiring for the evening. We thank Him easily enough when something really good happens, but we should thank Him even more in the face of struggles, as He”s purifying us and preparing us for even more profound blessings. This quote from St. Paul might be a good memory verse this month:
“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thessalonians 5:18
And if you haven”t yet had your fix of “For All the Saints” (one of my favorite hymns this time of year), check this out.