The Catholic Church is rich in traditions. Various times of year are set aside for special reflection. During Lent, we pray for forgiveness and renewal of our relationship with our God. Easter is our time to rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ and our redemption. Christmas is the season for celebrating the Incarnation, the belief that our God chose to share in our human nature and live a life like ours.
As we enter November, it’s a special time when we pray for the dead.
November begins with All Saints Day, the day we honor all those faithful servants of God who are united with the Lord in Heaven. This honors saints we know well, like St. Thomas the Apostle (the patron saint of our parish in Southington), along with lesser known ones, like St. Lydwina of Schiedam, and holy people whose identities are known only to God.
Saturday, Nov. 2 is All Souls’ Day, the feast remembering all those who have died. We pray that God welcomes them into His Divine Presence. We pray that the deceased are open to receiving the merciful love of God who forgives sins and calls all people to Himself. The month is set aside for us to honor our beloved deceased, recalling what they have done for us, and hoping that they will pray for us before God.
Why chose this time of year to pray for the dead? The answer is obvious if you look out the window. As autumn progresses, crops have been harvested, fruit is gone, and leaves have fallen off the trees. The grass goes dormant and birds fly south. Daylight grows shorter each day and the weather gets colder. It seems like everything is dying and our minds turn to our own mortality.
How do humans who live and die relate to our infinite and ever-living God? We look to our own seasons of life, the nature of our souls, and the belief in the resurrection of the body. All these theological questions arise from the passing of seasons on earth. November is the time of year when the Catholic Church engages in this mystery in a special way.
In our own parish, we honor our parishioners who have died at our All Souls’ Day Mass. In this liturgy, we read the names of those people whose funerals we celebrated over the past year. We invite their families to join us. It’s as much a time for those who grieve to be able to see that there are others who walk the same journey as it is to pray for the dead. Families see and understand that they’re not alone.
We highlight our belief, that through the resurrection, those who have died in Christ will be united with Him in eternal life. Just as we, the living, are united with Christ by faith, we maintain union with our beloved dead through the Lord. We call this the “Communion of Saints.”
November is a time of hope and comfort. Join us Sunday, Nov. 3 at St. Thomas Church in Southington at 6 p.m. See what we do as we honor the dead and pray for the living. All are welcome.
Rev. Joseph Cronin is the pastor at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Southington and a member of the Southington Interfaith Clergy Association. He can be reached at (860) 628-4713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.