Seasonally, November is usually the month when the leaves shed the last of their leaves, the weather gets colder, daylight grows shorter, and the landscape turns a little greyer as much of nature appears to shut down for the winter months ahead.
The month of November begins with two feasts in the Church – All Saints Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day on November 2nd. With Remembrance Day observed a little over a week later, November is certainly a time when we are asked to remember and pray for those who have died. Between the remembering and memorializing of the deceased, and the dying off of flowers, leaves, and annuals, November can feel a little depressing for many people. So what can we do to make this month meaningful without feeling a sense of despair?
The prayers and rituals we have for our loved ones can provide much needed comfort, and in our Catholic tradition, we are reminded that our loved ones are not gone in a permanent sense, but have rather undergone a transformation which we all will go through ourselves one day. Our faith tradition reminds us that through our baptism we all, living and dead, belong to the communion of saints – a faith community where we continue to pray for one another and look forward to the day when we will be reunited in God’s loving presence.
Here is a prayer you may want to add to your daily devotions during this month:
God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
There are many religious feasts, festivals, and holy days that will take place over the next couple of months (Diwali, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Yule/Solstice, Christmas, Ma’ghi). Many of these celebrations include the symbol of light in candles, fire, or other decorative lighting – symbols of light and hope in the darkness. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, these symbols can take on a psychological importance in addition to their spiritual/religious meaning, as the beauty of flickering and twinkling lights in the dark evenings can bring a sense of comfort and uplift our spirits.
So as we move through this last full month of fall and on into winter, let us remember the importance of light during these darker months – whether lighting candles in memory of a loved one, or as symbols that we can still shine out hope in the darkness.