A Time of Communion
Now’s a good time to consider the vast disconnect between seasonal celebrations in the Church and the world at large. For example, in the secular world, October centers on Halloween—second only to Christmas as the most commercial time of the year. Decorations and celebrations mingle with all things eerie, including witches, ghouls, and gore. In Catholic culture, October focuses on communion: unity, relationships, intimacy, and spirituality. Specifically in Western Christian practice, October 31—All Hallows’ Eve—marks the beginning of the celebration of All Saints’ Day in response to the fundamental belief that there’s a prayerful spiritual communion between the “church triumphant” (souls in heaven) and the “church militant” (living souls).
Two time-honored faith traditions are also celebrated in October: the memorial to guardian angels (October 2) and devotion to the rosary (October 7). Both bring communion in focus. Through the rosary, we join our prayers with Mary and strengthen our relationship with Christ. Guardian angels represent God’s love and protection. Psalm 91:11 states: “For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go.” Clearly, God desires a spiritual union with us and through communion with our guardian angel. These celebrations help us accept God’s care and guidance.
Perhaps we can relate popular devotions in Christianity to family traditions. Many families have generations-old customs that they participate in, especially this time of year. Autumn can be the perfect season for outdoor fun such as apple and pumpkin picking, campfires, chili contests, and fall festivals. Each activity typically revolves around spending quality time together. These times remind us how extraordinarily blessed we are to have the gifts of familiarity, shared faith, and family. In conjunction with our gratitude, Catholics are called on to help the unfortunate who see this time of year as the dawn of a precarious stretch of colder weather with diminished resources available to tackle the rigors of winter.
In the months ahead, as we come together in communion with our family—both spiritual and earthly—may we consider the admonition of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Popular Devotional Practices: Basic Questions and Answers”: “Christian worship and prayer, including popular devotions, in bringing us closer to God, should inspire us to share ever more fully in God’s special love for the poor.” Thus, now may also be a good time to undertake the many forms of evangelization.