As we reach the mid-way point of November, you’ve probably started being a little annoyed (I know I have!) by the far too premature anticipation of Christmas, especially in the shops. Year on year it always seems to intensify and get more difficult for families not to be distracted. In some ways I envy those in North America who are anticipating their celebration of Thanksgiving at this time because at least that’s an opportunity to focus not only on the absolute necessity and importance of the family gathering around the table in fellowship, (which the Pope had quite a bit to say about this week), but it’s also a helpful prompt to renew our gratitude and love for Christ in the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and whenever we can get the chance to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
Being grateful, having hearts full of gratitude, is an essential pillar of our spiritual life and the key to our well being and happiness for ourselves and those whom we love and serve. I suspect that’s something those 1000 people in Denmark who took part in an experiment to stop using Facebook for a week discovered, when they sadly realised how happier they felt living without what can often be anti-social media, giving them more face to face time with family and friends.
That’s the great thing about the daily, sometimes twice or three times daily, prayer of the Angelus reminding us of the enormous gift of God not only bestowing upon the world and humanity the Eternal Son through the Incarnation, but also the humble gratitude with which the sinless young Virgin of Nazareth – the Vessel of Honour – said “yes” and welcomed that Gift.
It’s a good habit to daily say thank you to God for the blessings in our lives, to punctuate the day with short little prayers or invocations of grateful love to the Father for what we have. For the more thankful we are, especially for the smallest things, even the mundane things, of everyday life, then the more generous we become in serving and helping others. I’ve found making a daily conscious effort to offer prayers and little daily hardships up for the Holy Souls in purgatory a useful habit this month. Obviously one automatically thinks of the dear departed ones we know but it’s good, indeed vital, that we consciously offer up prayers and sacrifices for the most forgotten souls. No one prays for them by name and they need our intercession to help them complete that final journey of purifying love in to the fullness of the Beatific Vision so that they can see Jesus face to face, as we one day hope to too. No social media in heaven that’s for sure! Don’t forget, one day you and I will need, and be immensely grateful, for those prayers of the faithful on earth after our death, as was beautifully put in an article this last week by Fr Alexander Lucie Smith.
So let’s intensify – up our game as they say – in these last remaining weeks of November, our prayers, acts of love and service, and hardships suffered on behalf of the Holy Souls, so that when the great Feast of Christ the King arrives and we begin to prepare to venture in to Advent once more, our hearts will be filled with that little extra grace of thanksgiving and love for the here and now.
Eternal rest grant unto them, Oh Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen