Canon Anthony Writes:
The month of November starts on a high point and, quite often, ends on a high point also; in between as we pray for the faithful departed, and the days grow shorter, the weather is often dark and gloomy, it can all seem to be just a little oppressive.
Today we begin this time as we celebrate the feast of All Saints when we rejoice that countless faithful souls are now at home with God in heaven. When we think of the saints we may well think of those more famous saints such as St Francis or St Therese of Lisieux, or St Patrick or St George, or our own patrons; those many great saints who, in the history of the Church, have led exemplary lives – lives ‘outstanding in holiness.’ Today’s feast however enables us to remember those unsung souls who have led good lives, and whose goodness is known only to those whose lives they have touched, and of course to God.
As we prepare to use the coming days to pray intensely for the faithful departed it’s good to have this vision of heaven before us, to have in front of us the prospect of life with God. Our own deaths, the only certainty in life, and the experience of losing our loved ones is not something that we may particularly want to think about or dwell on. But nonetheless it is important to remember those who have died, as we hear in the Book of Wisdom: ‘it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.’
When we lose our loved ones in death we can feel quite helpless, it may seem that there is nothing further we can do for them. But that is not entirely true because we can pray for them, and our prayer is both necessary and important. Most people strive to lead good lives but despite good intentions and good efforts there will be failures, there will be weaknesses and mistakes, so they need our prayers to help them to be ready to meet God face to face.
The feast of Christ the King often comes at the end of November. When we celebrate this feast it enables us to look beyond the here and now, it invites us to contemplate heaven where Christ the King of all Creation reigns now in glory with God the Father. So we commence November contemplating the saints in heaven, and as we pray for our departed loved ones so a light shines before us as we contemplate where Christ has gone and where we and all our loved ones hope to follow.