November is a special month to give thanks. We welcome it with open arms as it typically ushers in less humid and cooler weather, marks the end of hurricane season and concludes with the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. However, that’s not all. There are a few other realities the month features worth taking note of and for which to be grateful.
All Saints Day is the first of these. This holy day of obligation to attend Mass kicks off the month by honoring all who are in heaven and reminding us that heaven is our ultimate goal. The feast day helps us refreshingly realize that, since the lives of the saints were very different, holiness can be lived out in a variety of ways. It challenges us to persevere in faithfully and creatively living out God’s design for our life.
The day which follows, All Souls Day, gives us added reason for gratitude. On that day we remember and pray for all the faithful departed, very especially our loved ones. The blessings our deceased relatives and friends bestowed on us in this life are priceless. Moreover, while remembering and honoring them that day we are reminded of what Jesus’ Paschal mystery reveals – that death is not the end of life, but just a transition to new life. Consequently, our loved ones live on, and since death cannot end anything, their relationship with us is alive and their prayers in eternity continue to procure blessings for us. As such, All Souls Day makes us aware that we and our deceased loved ones remain vibrantly interconnected in Christ!
Last, but not least, among occasions for thanksgiving is the celebration of Veterans Day. What would we be as a country and society without the service and sacrifice of those who have served our nation while putting themselves in harm’s way? The stability and accomplishments of any people is always contingent upon the measure of their self-giving. In that regard, our veterans lead the way. This sometimes forgotten holiday not only leads us to rightfully honor them, but also motivates us to cherish the essential value of sacrifice and augment it in our life.
November, therefore, gives us a full plate of goodness and gratitude before we fill our plates and bellies with more goodness and gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. As the month leads us to better weather and a new season of advent, it reminds us of the tremendous blessings that are part of life and how important it is to celebrate them. And if we develop that attitude of gratitude, we will better understand what it means to live in Christ.
Father José Alvarez