November offers a unique spirituality in the prayers for the deceased. In the northern hemisphere we experience the dormancy of nature, a seasonal dying back to new life in spring. The cycle in nature of death and new life is reflected in our Catholic tradition. November is the month to remember the dead and their in-between time in purgatory, waiting new life in heaven.
In an article at Aleteia I wrote about dying, and my comfort with the strange grace of purgatory. Another thought that comes to mind is the accompaniment of our soul by the angels and saints as it leaves the body.
I’ve often been curious why this would be necessary. If the soul is meant for heaven wouldn’t it be drawn to God, like a sliver of metal to a magnet?
In the soul’s journey from the body—and earth—does it, in its most vulnerable state, need to be protected through enemy territory? Does it need to be protected from evil principalities that may try to snatch it at its weakest, when fear and uncertainty are at their peak?
The Catechism (CCC 1864) teaches that sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. Is this the sin we face with our last breath of whether or not to accept Mercy? I wonder if the angles and saints come to us as an affirmation of heaven when the forces of evil, at our final moment, attempt to cloud our certainty of forgiveness and thereby gain our hell.
On the Roman Catholic calendar, the Feast of the Archangels is on September 29 and that of our Guardian Angels a few days later on October 2. Celebrating the person of angels may take place a few weeks ahead, but I come to appreciate their existence even more as I pray in November for souls in transition; in the process of departing their body.
I’ve nothing concrete to base this answer, and pray my words do not conflict with the teachings of the Magisterium. I believe Our Lord in his deep love for the soul, offers it protection along the final road lined with thieves. As always, we must choose to trust His gift.
Image William-Adolphe Bouguereau [Public domain USA], via Wikimedia Commons.
I you’re interested in creating a Liturgical garden dedicated to Archangels, a particular saint, or guardian angels, see A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac published by Ave Maria Press.
And here, a sweet offering of the Celtic Song of Farewell sung by MaryAnn Polich.
For those who prefer the Latin Rite, In Paradisum, this one from a friend.
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