November is a time of preparation on the church calendar
By Father Paul Wolf, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Winsted
November opens a church season of the Catholic Church when our thoughts turn toward the fear of death, the hope of eternal life, the gratitude we feel for God's gifts and the charity we owe to others.
In the northern hemisphere, trees turn barren and the chill of late fall settles in to stay. Nov. 1, All Saints' Day, is a holy day. The gospel for All Saints' Day is the account of the Beatitudes from Matthew.
When Jesus opened the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaimed the reign of God for those who were virtuous in poverty, spirituality, and persecution. The Beatitudes are a job description for sainthood.
The second reading of the day from John's letter proclaims that we are God's children now, and what we shall later be has not yet come into light. But John proclaims the hope of an eternal reward, which we celebrate today as it shines in the saints.
Nov. 2, All Souls' Day, we remember the deceased among the faithful who await their entrance to eternal glory. We pray for the rest, those who need forgiveness for their sins, who yearn to see the face of God.
The readings of the day come from the commons for Masses for the dead. One of the readings might be taken from the scripture passage of Maccabees. That passage is one of the scriptural foundations for the Catholic traditional belief in purgatory and to justify prayer for the dead as we do today.
Nov. 23, The Feast of Christ the King, is celebrated as the last week of the church calendar. As the two celebrations above, the Feast of Christ the King reminds us of an end time and a call to be prepared for we know not when Christ the King will return to claim all for God.
As the church year comes to its end our thoughts turn to the end of all time. The faithful are called to reflect not with fear but with confident hope that Christ will come again as the supreme ruler. The Gospel of John will be read.
Jesus is a prisoner on trial before Pilate over the question of his kingship. His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom and kingship is everlasting and is meant for all nations. Thursday, Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to give thanks to the Lord for all gifts received. Throughout the United States, citizens set aside this as a day of thankful prayer.
As a church we will gather for Eucharist, a celebration with a name that means "Thanksgiving." Throughout November members of the church are encouraged to bring food for the hungry.
We present these to the McLeod Food Shelf to stock their shelves for the needy neighbors, brothers, and sisters that we might know and not know. We have been given much as a nation, may we help those who are in need.
Sunday, Nov. 30, the Season of Advent begins. A new Liturgical Church Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent.
The First Sunday of Advent also has a reminder of being prepared for the end times for they will come when we least expect them. The Season of Advent then moves to the preparation of Christmas time and the coming historical Christ at Bethlehem, as well as the present time of the celebration of the Christ coming today into our lives.
We do not know when the end of our lives will be, nor do we know when the end of time will be for the world that we know. We are not to be filled with fear, but in awareness and preparation of the time of judgment and the return of Christ the King.