A few days ago, I wrote about how much I love November, and how this is a truly special time in the life of the Catholic Church. Particularly because it is a month when we celebrate the fullness of the Communion of Saints.
We begin by celebrating all who have completed their journey and are in heaven with God on All Saints Day, and then we commemorate all the holy souls who have gone before us on All Souls Day, before spending the remainder of the month praying for those same souls.
I have to admit, with the shortening of days and the dreary, rainy, and cooler days, this time of year can be a bit depressing. However, the beauty of our faith is that our God not only gives us hope for dark times, but He also gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, especially those we love.
How? By allowing our prayers, sacrifices, and works of mercy to bring about great good for ourselves, but also for all others in the Communion of Saints, particularly those who may be in Purgatory.
Very simply, this means that whenever we are doing activities that help us grow in knowledge and love of the Lord—like spending time in Adoration or before the Blessed Sacrament, or when we read and meditate upon Sacred Scripture, or make the Way of the Cross, or recite the Rosary–we can offer these on behalf of the salvation of others by offering them as part of a plenary or partial indulgence.
Now, I realize that indulgences tend to have been given a bad rap because of their misuse in centuries past, but there is a wisdom in the practice. For indulgences not only allow us to take action and help others, but they also can assist us in making great strides in our own spiritual life, too. And this is where the beauty of the Communion of Saints is found.
All of the Church—the Church Triumphant (the saints), the Church Suffering (the holy souls), and the Church Militant (all of us)—have a part to play in bringing about God’s plan for the world. And when the saints, the souls and the living all choose to do their part, miracles happen, and then the reality of God’s love and mercy abounds in the world.
Very often, however, I neglect my duties. I don’t pray as much as I should, am not as generous as I could be, or sacrifice as much as I am able. But when I do something out of love for someone else, I find my duties are far easier. And that is where the Communion of Saints helps all of us—the saints pray that we have the courage to persevere, we are able to offer our thoughts, words and actions for the salvation of souls so that our life has more meaning, and those same offerings assist our loved ones in receiving their eternal reward.
So although November can be a bit depressing, take heart! For through the Communion of Saints, we not only can make a difference in the lives of all the living and dead—we might even grow a little bit in holiness ourselves!