We celebrate many holidays during the month of November. Many people would say that Thanksgiving begins the “Holiday Season” which then goes through Christmas and New Year’s covering Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Catholics know that November 1st truly starts this season. The Feast of All Saints celebrates the Church Triumphant, all those souls who enjoy eternity in the presence of Our Lord in heaven. I always enjoy the singing of the Litany of Saints during this liturgy. With every, “Pray For Us,” we get to commune with the heroes of the church.
The following day we celebrate All Souls’ Day and thereby the Church Penitent. These are the souls who still need to be perfected in the fires of purgatory. They still need our prayers and the church frequently reminds us to do this throughout the month of November. Traditionally, many people visit the graves of their loved ones who have passed during this time or light candles in church in their memory. Remembering the dead should continue all year long through daily prayer and offering Masses when we can.
You probably already know a good deal about those Catholic holidays, but in addition I would like to offer a connection that I only made this year. Two American holidays, one of which occurs in November, and all of three parts of the church, especially the final part, the Church Militant can be linked in a significant way. Americans honor the lives of those who died in service of the United States on Memorial Day. Catholics honor the souls of those who served our Lord on November 1st and 2nd.
On November 11, Americans celebrate Veteran’s Day. We honor all those who served in the Armed Forces. Catholics can also honor themselves throughout November as we all serve in the Church Militant. We fight in the battle of good and evil in the army of Christ. We train through catechesis and the study of Sacred Scripture. We join the ranks through Baptism and advance in rank through Confirmation. We are nourished on the rations of the Eucharist and our wounds healed by Reconciliation. As soldiers, we know that any day could be our last and the eschatology of the readings during Mass at the end of the liturgical year remind us of that. In the “Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins”, Jesus reminds us to “Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:13) All soldiers know this reality.
Enjoy this month. At Thanksgiving, give thanks that our commander-in-chief, Jesus Christ, has already won the victory for us. Not only that, but He left us the greatest training facility, field hospital, and fortress the world has ever known, the Catholic Church. Thanks be to God.
Copyright 2017 Mark Andrews