The 11th month
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - November 2, 2019 - 12:00am

That will be November for us.

Did you know, however, that the term “novembre” comes from Old French, from Latin, novem meaning nine? That November refers to the ninth, not to the eleventh month of the year as we know now?

That’s right! November was the 9th month in the early Roman but the 11th in the Gregorian calendar!

For most of us, now, November is the solemn, reflective month before December, the festive, joyful twelfth month of the year!

The first early days of November start with the solemn remembrance of the saints and the souls, those who have lived, like us, with us, on this earth but have gone ahead.

Ordinary persons like everyone else, the saints canonized by the Church were those who lived with their extraordinary love for God and others. We are probably more familiar with the more recent canonized saints: Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, San Pedro Calungsod.

In our country, many towns celebrate fiestas to honor their patron saint. We wonder, however, how many know well the lives of their patron saint and other saints worshipped throughout the world? Did you know that there are more than 10,000 canonized saints, according to various websites?

There are many more saints, however, if we remember Pope Francis’ call for us all to be saints, “living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks.” One can become a saint “always and everywhere by being receptive to the grace that is working in us and leads us to holiness.”

November 1st reminds us to remember all the saints, the dead and the living, those who offer/offered their love and service to God and his people.

This month of November opens with memories not only of those who, while in this world, lived ordinary and/or exemplary lives. Most especially, November 1 and 2 remind us of those who are no longer physically with us but those who loved us and whom we loved, and of those who loved God and others deeply.

While we are assured that our dearly departed are always with us in our hearts, the longing for them, the sadness, the grief remain. We are consoled somehow when we realize and accept that our reunion will come, will continue beyond this life. And rather than proceed grieving each day, instead, we choose to celebrate those who have gone ahead, we choose to keep them alive in our hearts as well. Through prayers, Masses, flowers, visits, conversations, we choose to be with our dearly departed. Just as they are always in our hearts always, we keep them in our hearts always as well.

November also witnesses the leaves change their color, from bright red to yellow, to orange and gold. After their brief burst of beauty and life, the leaves start to fall, dry, and die. C’est la vie. Such is life.

In November, many may reflect that where there is life, there is death. An end for every beginning. However, believers see instead that where there is life, there is also afterlife, not death, a beginning and an eternity where unending love abounds.

November reminds us to be joyfully gratefully, to proceed with full faith, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).

God’s blessings to you all this month!

Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters affected and challenged by the big earthquakes in Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao. May God protect the survivors and may those who perished live and rest in God’s eternal love and peace, amen.

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