NOVEMBER reminds us of the wonderful doctrine of the COMMUNION OF SAINTS, which is the inter-connection between the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory and the saints in Heaven - all who are one in the Mystery of Christ.


November 1st: All SAINTS

On 1st November, when we commemorate ALL SAINTS, it is not only those canonised by the Church that we have in mind, but all those who were incorporated into Christ by Baptism, for it is He 'who is our sanctity.' This is the biblical sense of the term 'saints' used by St. Paul in his letters for all Christians.


Pre-Christian Ireland paid ritual honour to ancestors; this was carried over into the Celtic Church as the feast of Samhain and, from there, into the calendar of the Universal Church.

All our dear ones who are in God's presence continue to care for us and encourage us on life's journey.


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November 2nd: ALL SOULS


ALL SOULS are remembered on November 2nd. We refer to them as the 'Holy Souls', because they are saved and are awaiting entry into the Blessed Vision of God. This is what we call Purgatory.

Purgatory is a great mercy of God, a matter more of healing than of punishment; God does for us there what we had neither the courage nor love to do while we were in this life. St. Catherine of Genoa tells in her writings that, after Heaven, Purgatory is the happiest place in the universe.

The Holy Souls are longing to be with God and so they are willing to be purified in order to do so. In his poem the Dream of Gerontius, Bl. Cardinal Newman describes how the person who has died, once it has seen the Face of the Incarnate God, is so smitten with love and longing to dwell in the beauty of that countenance that it plunges into the cleansing flames in order to be worthy to see that Face again.

Since we, together with the Saints and the Holy Souls, are one in Christ, we can help those in Purgatory by our prayers and they can help us.

An interesting feature of the Knock Apparition is that, in 1879, when Archdeacon Kavanagh had just finished offering a hundred Masses for the souls of those who had died in the famine,

Our Lady appeared at the Gable wall; hence devotion to the Holy Souls features much in the private devotion of Knock.


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Feasts of Dedication:

November has two feasts of the Dedication of Roman Churches, that of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica on 9th and of the Basilica of St. Peter & Paul on 18th.
In the Liturgy, the dedication of a church is considered to be a feast-day of Our Lord, because it is He Who is the True Temple. As He said to the Jews: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2: 19) It is only from Jesus that true

worship rises up to the Father. We too are temples with Him. "You are the temple of the living God," St Paul tells us. At Baptism the Three Divine Persons come to take up their abode within us.

This Indwelling Presence is at the centre of Carmelite spirituality.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, a French Carmelite, canonised last month in Rome, whose feast we celebrate on 8th November, made this the guiding truth of her life. She wrote: "I have found Heaven on earth, since God is Heaven and Heaven is in my soul".


She used to say that her special mission after death would be to help people to live in intimacy with the God within.


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On November 21st, we have the well-loved commemoration of the Presentation of the child Mary in the temple by her parents, Joachim and Anne.

This legend comes from the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal gospel, dating approximately from 200 AD.

But, even if it is not historical, it indicates the veneration of Mary from earliest times. Mary, herself, was the Ark of the New Covenant, the temple or sanctuary of the Incarnate God for nine months.
We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.


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November 26th:  CHRIST THE KING

The liturgical year comes to a conclusion with the feast of Our Lord Jesus, Universal King, doubly significant this year, as it marks the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This feast of Our Lord's Kingship is "not a feast of those who are subjugated" writes Pope Benedict, "but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of One Who writes straight on crooked lines".

His is a gentle yoke, an easy burden. He is the Shepherd King, always following and searching for us, like the Hound of Heaven in Francis Thompson's poem. "I fled him down the nights and down the days. I fled him down the arches of the years . . ." but "those strong feet followed, followed after".

Shepherd King, o'er mountain steep,
homeward lead your straying sheep.
Keep within the royal fold
states and kingdoms new and old.
Angels, saints and nations sing,
praised be Jesus Christ our King. (Breviary)