There is an Appointed Time for Everything (Ecclesiastes 3)Fall is a season of transition. Shorter days, cooler climes; the emergence of crimson and gold leaves on the deciduous trees marks Autumn settling in. As in nature, our daily activities and focus also shift with the season. Families with school-aged children now anchor themselves to the school calendar and busy themselves with school work, meal planning, and juggling a myriad of extracurricular activities.For most, the change in season is bittersweet. We look forward to the upcoming changes in weather, schedules, activities, and family dynamics while hanging onto the lingering remnants of summer. So too, with our spiritual nature, especially as we are now in the month of October. The peak of the growing season in our gardens is waning, giving way to death and decay. In God’s abundant love and mercy through His Church’s traditions and teachings, the Liturgical Calendar reminds the faithful, too, that “all are from the dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20).
With less than eight weeks of Ordinary Time left in the Liturgical Calendar, the Church is also preparing the faithful for the close of the liturgical year. The timbre and tone leading up to the new season are both sobering and triumphant. The apocalyptic and eschatological imagery in the Scripture readings points to the end times, the liturgical year ending with the Feast of Jesus Christ the King (November 26th).
During the remaining weeks of Ordinary Time, the Church continues to form and conform the hearts, minds, and lives of the faithful by walking with Jesus (as “He set His face to go to Jerusalem” Luke 9:51). The celebration of the Thanksgiving Mass is the primary means by which the faithful order their daily lives throughout the year. It is through Scripture and the “breaking of bread” that the faithful encounter Jesus, “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6) so that they, too, may invite others to “come and see” (John 1:46).
The Church also continues to celebrate the lives of many saints, giving the faithful a diversity of examples to model. Feast days in September and October include the feast of Matthew (September 21st), Padre Pio (September 23rd), Jerome (September 30th), Francis of Assisi (October 4th), Luke (October 18th), and Simon and Jude, the Apostles (October 28th), to name a few. As the season of Ordinary Time crescendos with the feast of Jesus Christ the King, the Church underscores the vastness of God’s Kingdom (heaven and earth) with the celebration of the heavenly beings, the holy angels.
The Church honors the three Archangels named in Scripture (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael) and the guardian angels. These feast days are celebrated on September 29th (Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael) and October 2nd (guardian angels). Families with younger children find these two feast days easy and fun to celebrate. Angel-themed meals (pasta) and dessert ideas abound. Pray the Guardian Angel Prayer, along with reading great stories of angels’ involvement throughout salvation history. Stories such as Daniel being rescued from lions (Daniel 6:10-23), Peter being rescued from prison (Acts 12:5-10), and Jesus being ministered to by His angels in the wilderness (Matthew 4:11) are other favorite family traditions.
Celebrating the holy angels reminds the faithful of God’s goodness and generosity. Every person throughout history and those yet to come (including those who died or were killed within the womb) is given their very own guardian angel. Guardian angels serve, out of love for God, providing human beings love and protection and guiding a person, group, or nation on the path that leads them to God. That is why the Church has set aside a special day to honor them for their fidelity and ongoing role in the governance of the universe, particularly for the vital position they play in mankind’s salvation through Jesus Christ. Acknowledging our relationship with our guardian angel is rewarding and essential to our spiritual well-being; a life-long friendship–literally!
The placement of these feast days within the Liturgical and Gregorian Calendar points the faithful to the reality of life. Like fallen leaves on the ground, we, too, will return to the ground; out of it we were taken; to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19). The seasonal changes we experience in our local surroundings stir us to reflect on our numbered days here on earth, reminding us to prepare ourselves, in spirit, mind, and body, for what is yet to come.
In honor of St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day (October 4th) and the impending harvest season that is upon us, we praise the Lord, the Giver of Life, for all of creation, including “Sister Death, from whom no living being can escape.” In his praise to God, St. Francis reminds all who have ears to hear the gravity of our eternal souls.
Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon
St. Francis of Assisi
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
Especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
By which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth
Who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise be You, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they she finds doing Your will. No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, And serve Him with great humility.