I don’t like November. Sure, it has Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a cold, cruel month. William Cullen Bryant put it well when he wrote, "The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sear."
Most of us don’t particularly like to think about what the Church calls the “Last Four Things”--death, judgment, heaven, hell. But at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, November itself compels us to think about them. Everything around us is either dead or dying, even the land itself. We can force ourselves to look forward to spring, but right now spring is a long winter’s dream away. Which is why it’s very fitting that the liturgical year ends in November.
Dank, dark, dismal, dreary November. A time to think about our own mortality, our sinfulness, our deaths. And yet, what do we celebrate at the very end of the year? Not All Souls’ Day, the day of the dead…that comes nearly a month earlier. No, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. A feast of power and majesty and might. A feast of triumph. The year ends with our Church asking us to celebrate the ultimate victory of good over evil, light over dark, life over death, of our King over the Prince of Darkness.
Sometimes this capstone feast of the liturgical year gets buried in the onslaught of preparation for Christmas. After all, the very next Sunday begins Advent and after that it’s a mad rush to Midnight Mass, followed by the road to Easter. My challenge to myself, and to you, this November, is to stop for a moment and realize that in every ending is a beginning.
What is that you need to end this in order to start anew?
What is in you that is longing to have a chance to begin?
What must you let die in order for something new to be born?
And finally, in these melancholy days, never forget that the Church ends her year, not in despair, but in the triumph of the King who will reign forever as our loving Savior and Lord. Let us never forget to rejoice in His presence.