November and End Things: A Weekly Reflection

Pie Jesu, Qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem
Agnus Dei,
Dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Merciful Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world
Grant them rest
Lamb of God,
Grant them everlasting rest

(from the Requiem Mass)

The Pie Jesus, taken from the Requiem Mass, has been set to music by countless composers. Here's a version by the French composer, Gabriel Faure, and another, more contemporary version, by the modern British composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, thanks to YouTube!

http://www.valley-cemetery.com/vcphotos_files/fallvalleycemetery.jpegNovember in New England is always a little dreary: the beautiful multi-colored quilt of leaves that blanket our area during September and October have given way to bare trees, and the gentle warmth of Indian summer has retreated to the cold of winter around the corner. In some parts of our area, snow has already fallen. Clocks have been turned back, and when we get up in the morning, it's dark; when we come home at night, it's dark again.

Suddenly, almost without warning, our bodies start craving carbohydrates, and we New Englanders begin the "hunkering down" for winter . . .

In the midst of November, the Church calls our attention to the "end things." On the first of November, we celebrate All Saints, sometimes known as All Hallows, the eve of which is known as Halloween. On November 2nd, the Commemoration of All Souls, we pray for all the dead: all those women and men who have died and are waiting to see God face to face.  We pray on this day for the souls in purgatory: those who have died, but who at death weren't ready to meet God face to face. Their choices and ability to grow in holiness and grace are gone in the moment of death; the souls in purgatory, our family and friends, rely on the prayers and sacrifices of the Church on earth in order for them, in some moment of eternity, finally to experience the eternal glory of God's face.

The readings at daily and Sunday Mass during the month of November speak often of the dead, of heaven, of judgment, and of being watchful and ready, since we never know "the hour when the Son of Man will come" (Mt. 24:36). 

This month of November is a good time for us to pray for all our beloved dead: our parents and grandparents, our children and spouses, our family and friends who now count on our prayers. Pray for those dead who have no one else to pray for them, those who are long dead and long forgotten but still in need of the Church's prayers. Someday, that may be us! 

Go to the cemetery and visit your deceased family members. Clean off their graves, or bring flowers to remember them, and when you do, say a prayer for them. Cemeteries are a great reminder that birth and death are the great equalizers, and that we all need to live in constant readiness for that moment when we will all be called home.

Set up a little shrine in your home for the month of November. Light a candle, and assemble pictures of all of your deceased friends and family. Pray for them each night during November:  "Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace . . . "

And be sure to thank God for the gift they were and are in your life . . .

Now pray . . .