I am always inclined to brace myself for November. It is the calm before the storm; Year 11 will feel this as they prepare for their mock exams at the end of term. Then we will have all the preparations for the Christmas season, which starts in earnest this month.
In terms of our spiritual lives, November is a serious business. It is no accident that the first two days of this memory-laden month remind us of the saints who are now in heaven and the souls who are ‘in transit’. We remember these during All Saints Day on 1st November, then All Souls Day on 2nd November. Then later this month, on 11th November, we remember all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, dying as a result of war and conflict. In school, we remember this specifically with a one minute silence and playing of The Last Post.
When we consider All Saints Day, our minds are often drawn to the spiritual ‘big hitters’ who give their names to our Form groups. The feast day also refers to the little-known saints, our grandparents, great aunts, friends and colleagues who are now all at peace and safe. We have all been amongst the presence of saints; members of your family, people you know who are sure ambassadors in the heavenly court. Once you have had this thought you can’t un-think it, so they are worth praying to and you might even be surprised at the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in this regard.
November is a great month to become more deeply aware that our lost loved ones are just a breath away, behind the curtain, in the next room. Many of us might use November to think of a favourite saint who has been canonised and students will be asked to think about their Form Saint. But let’s also remember those in our own lives who have inspired us to be more like Jesus, perhaps a teacher, a parent or other relative, a deceased friend. Someone whose life had moments of purity, selflessness and faith, someone who lived a life that resonated with that of Jesus. We can certainly imitate them just as well, maybe better, than we can St Teresa, Martin or Clare, because we knew them and knew their weaknesses as well as their strengths.