Thursday, November 10, 2011

Autumn Reflection

arrives at a time in the calendar year that the Catholic Church designates as “Ordinary Time.” Ordinary Time is that period that stretches between Easter and Advent; then, again, between Christmas and Lent. But, is there really anything ordinary about this time of year? Certainly not! “Ordinary Time” is actually quite extraordinary! And the extraordinary nature of this time of year is reflected in many of the season’s sacred observances, celebrations, and customs.
Just as deciduous trees change color and drop their leaves, Muslims and Jews entered into a time of transformation and “casting off” themselves, with Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur . Ramadan is not only about fasting from food but a time for purifying oneself through other forms of self-restraint as well as acting lovingly toward others. Similary, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, or the days of “Awe” and “Atonement,” Jews ask for forgiveness from people they have wronged in the past year: a shedding or “casting off” of self so that new life may emerge. This new life is reflected in the joyous festival of Sukkot, which literally means “harvest homes,” a holiday which begins the fifth day after Yom Kippur, at the harvest moon. Sukkot has both historical and agricultural ties. Historically, it commemorates the forty-year period, during which the Israelites lived in temporary shelters as they wandered in the desert. Agriculturally, this “festival of ingathering” is based on a time when people worked such long hours harvesting their crops that, from their yield, they would have to construct makeshift tents in which they would sleep.

The Chinese Moon Festival, with its moon cakes and related history and legends, also arrives during this time of year, as do many holidays celebrating angels, spirits, and saints (e.g., Michaelmas, Feast of the Guardian Angels, Halloween, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, the Mexican “Day of the Dead”). It’s not surprising that so many related festivals should coincide: with the harvest moon and bountiful harvest also comes darkness and decay, which makes this time of year especially fitting for remembering those who have passed from this world and into the next. In fact, many cultures believe that during this season the veil between heaven and earth is especially thin. Food for the dead is left at gravesites and window ledges. The atmosphere is one of celebration, not gloom.

During this season Catholics commemorate, honor, and celebrate all saints, canonized and uncanonized, known and unknown, throughout the month of November, especially during All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days (Nov. 1 and Nov 2). The saints, Catholics believe, are our models on earth and our friends in heaven.

For the month of November, Campus Ministry has been be focusing on the theme "¡Presente! "
On the SOAW website, they explain: "¡Presente! literally means 'here' or 'present' in Spanish. There is a long tradition in Latin American movements for justice of invoking the memory of those who have lost their lives in the struggle. It is used in the ritual at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, when we remember those who suffered and were martyred by the graduates of the School of the Americas. We pronounce their names and bring their spirits and witness before us as we respond: ¡Presente! You are here with us, you are not forgotten, and we continue the struggle in your name." (For More information, visit:

The Presente Altar and Book of Remembrance

We extend this theme of PRESENTE to the entire community of saints: with remembrances for all personal families and friends; for other heroes, saints, and role models; as well as for victims of torture, violence, hunger, homelessness, and other injustices. Throughout the month of November, Campus Ministry invites the community to bring names and (photocopies of) photographs of deceased loved ones to an altar in the entrance of the Chapel. We have also invited you to record the names of your deceased loved ones in our Book of Remembrance, which will remain in the Chapel through the month of Novemener. We will also have a similar display up in the Brennan display case.

No comments:

Post a Comment