On the Church’s calendar, the month of November is packed with much liturgical/theological content to fuel our prayer, nourish the spiritual life, and bring us to contemplate eternal life. At the beginning of this month, we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, celebrating everyone who has made it through the difficult pilgrimage of this life and now eternally enjoy praising God in Heaven. The following day, we commemorated All Souls Day, praying for all the souls in Purgatory, who rely on our prayers to be released into Heaven. Next week, with the end of the Church’s calendar, we celebrate the great solemnity of Christ the King, who’s reign is over everything and cannot be interrupted.
With regard to the solemnity of All Saints, which we celebrated a couple weeks ago, St. Teresa of Avila offers us a challenging, but inspirational reflection:
O souls that without fear already have fruition of your joy and are always absorbed in praises of my God, happy has been your lot! What great reason you have for being ever engaged in these praises. How my soul envies you, for you are already free from the sorrow such terrible offenses committed against my God cause in these unfortunate times, and from the sorrow of seeing so much ingratitude, and seeing that there is no awareness of the multitude of souls carried away by Satan. O blessed heavenly souls! Help our misery and be our intercessors before the divine mercy that we may be given some of your joy and a share in this clear knowledge you possess.
Give us understanding, my God, of what it is that is given to those who fight valiantly in the dream of this miserable life. Obtain for us, O loving souls, understanding of the joy it gives you to see the eternal character of your fruition, and how it is so delightful to see certainly that it will have no end. Oh, how fortunate we are, my Lord! For we believe in everlasting joy and know the truth well; but with so pronounced a habit of failing to reflect on these truths, they have already become so foreign to our souls that these souls neither know about them nor desire to know about them. O selfish people, greedy for your pleasures and delights; not waiting a short time in order to enjoy them in such abundance, not waiting a year, not waiting a day, not waiting an hour — and perhaps it will take no more than a moment — you lose everything, because of the joy of that misery you see present!
Oh, oh, oh, how little we trust You, Lord! How much greater the riches and treasures You entrusted to us, since after His thirty-three years of great trials and so unbearable and pitiable a death, You have given us Your Son; and so many years before we were born! Even knowing that we wouldn’t repay You, You didn’t want to cease trusting us with such an inestimable treasure, so that it wouldn’t be your fault, merciful Father, if we fail to acquire what through Him we can obtain from You.
O blessed souls who with this precious price knew so well how to profit and buy an inheritance so delightful and permanent, tell us how you gained such an unending good! Help us, since you are so near the fount; draw water for those here below who are perishing of thirst.
St. Teresa helps us here to reflect on the shortness of our time on earth, and the need for us to stay vigilant in turning away from sin and in remaining in the state of grace, which is necessary for us to enter into eternal life. But she also helps us to reflect on the profound depth of Christ’s mercy, available to us in the sacrament of Reconciliation, which can forgive any sin, but which is left to us to seek out in the same sacrament. After all, Jesus gave us each of the seven sacraments for the very purpose of giving us the grace we need to maintain and grow in the state of grace, to stay close to him, and to bring us through this life and into eternal life.