Fall is a beautiful time of year, especially in Wisconsin. The turning leaves, the frost on the pumpkins, the harvests of apples, crops, and gardens seem to satisfy many souls. Yet the joy of the season brings with it a sense of winter’s approach, the descent of darkness, and the icy-cold dormancy of the outdoors. Autumn is a bittersweet time!
Nature’s decline and fall also brings to mind our own “autumn of the year,” as Frank Sinatra once put it. But, whether by design or not, the Church gives us two great celebrations to offer perspective—and hope—during this time.
On November 1st (Friday this year), we gather to honor All Saints, those officially canonized and recognized by the Church, as well as those less well known here below, even as they sit enthroned with God above. On November 2nd, the Church remembers the souls of All the Faithful Departed. These “poor souls” need our prayerful assistance today, much as they needed us—and we needed them—while they were alive on earth.
These celebrations are fitting in the fall, for they remind us of our own eternal destiny, not in death, but in God. A lovely analogy presents itself to us in the kernel of wheat sown and harvested by the Chosen People. The seed was planted in the fall, only to germinate and grow, before falling dormant over the cold winter. When the springtime of the year dawned, the plant came back to life, ripened, and reached its fullness. So, too, we are not destined to decay within the earth, but to reemerge and “produce much fruit” (John 12:24).
Purgatory’s poor souls and heaven’s radiant saints testify to the abundance of eternal life in Christ. For these, a line from the funeral Mass says, “life is changed, not ended.” This November, as we remember those who have gone before us, let us continue to rely upon each other. Let us see in these heroic souls not only the fall but the Springtime Resurrection God desires for us all.