We find ourselves just past the halfway point of November and this signals that Advent is not too far away.
The very first day of this month, found the Church commemorating and celebrating the Great solemnity of All Saints Day, followed on the 2nd by the Great day of remembrance for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. That was not to be the end of the “Greats” for this liturgically colourful month of the Calendar.
On the 9th of November, we remembered the dedication of the Latern Basilica, the Mother of all Churches throughout the world.
November 10th, we were introduced to Pope Leo the Great, (was Pope from 29 September 440 to his death in 461. Pope Benedict XVI said that Leo’s papacy “…was undoubtedly one of the most important in the Church’s history.” He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy.)
He is followed on the 15th by Saint Albert the Great (13th-century German Dominican. Students of philosophy know him as the master of Thomas Aquinas. Doctor of the Church and the patron of scientists and philosophers.)
The very next day 16th November(today), we remember the life of Saint Gertrude the Great. St. Gertrude was a Benedictine nun and mystic who lived in the 13th century. To her was given the powerful intercessory prayer for the souls in Purgatory: Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those within my own home and within my own family. She is the only woman Saint to be honoured with the title “Great”.
Saturday, 18th November, we will recall the dedication of the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul. The Vatican church, dedicated in honour of St. Peter, is the second patriarchal church at Rome, and in it reposes one half of the precious remains of the bodies of SS. Peter and Paul. Churches are dedicated only to God, though often under the patronage of some saint; that the faithful may be excited to implore the intercession of such a saint, and that churches may be distinguished by bearing different titles. By remembering the martyrs, Peter and Paul, and all the martyrs of the Church, we honour the God of the martyrs, the one God over all.
The great feast day of the Presentation of Mary follows a few days later on the 21st November and on that day we celebrate the fact that Our Lady’s parents brought her to the Temple at the age of three and handed her over to live there for a long period as a consecrated virgin where she might be dedicated to God, thus began her magnificent preparation to be the Mother of Jesus Christ.
November 26th this year, sees the Great feast of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 for the universal Church. He connected the increasing denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism throughout much of Europe. At the time, many Christians (including Catholics) began to doubt Christ’s authority and existence, as well as the Church’s power to continue Christ’s authority. It is celebrated on the final Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Sunday before Advent begins.
The very next day the Church remembers St Catherine Laboure. At an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. Three times in 1830 the Virgin Mary appeared to the young novice. On November 27, the Lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the “Miraculous Medal.” She commissioned St. Catherine to have one made, and to spread devotion to this medal. The Miraculous Medal holds a prominent place in the origin and immediate pre-history of the Legion of Mary.
Finally, November 30th, we complete this Great Month with the feast of the Apostle, Saint Andrew. The New Testament states that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him, and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist, to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ.
So, reflecting on these days past and yet to come in the month of November, we can truly see that it is a month filled with scholarly saints and fabulous feast days. But, amidst all the joyous celebrating and commemorating of these great men and women, let us not forget those who are still on their way to achieve the great crown awaiting them. However, they must first pass through Purgatorial pains, and are reliant upon our prayers and sacrifices offered to God in their behalf to attain to their final place of rest and glory.