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Reflections shj 2 w-photo 2014-2


November - the Low-Key Month

Where might November take us?  Stark trees, bone-shivering rain, desolate earth: what could these raise up? Yet, November is launched by two consecutive celebrations of virtually the same feasts, namely, the communion of saints.

These feasts portage the paradox of sorrow and joy just as the beatitudes do.  So the spiritual sense of November is a reminder of the connection of suffering and hope, earthly loss—heavenly gain, that the seeds embedded in the cold earth become the harvest that the practice of the beatitudes reaps.

Why are the sorrowful blessed?
Can the sorrowful really be made happy?  When their hearts are softened by the harrowing of suffering, God can drizzle tender love in those furrows. When threads of compassion tendril out to them, their spirits can become buoyant.

Why would the meek inherit the earth?
The meek are close to the earth in a humble honesty about their position as receivers of gifts from God. They are aware that if not for the grace of God nada, nihil. The meek are imitating Jesus, Who identified Himself as meek and humble of heart.

Why would the poor in spirit be the obtainers of the Kingdom?
Ah, the poor in spirit are emptied enough to receive the fullness of grace and the gracious abundance of God’s love.

When will the pure of heart see God?
Each moment of their preoccupation with awareness of God’s presence or any moment grasping even for a seemingly remote God, the single-hearted will be given their heart’s desire.

Holiness means being responsive to love. So wherever we find love on earth or in heaven we deepen our holiness. And where can we stretch into this holiness with fewer distractions —on days of bleak November, a month contoured for holiness:

a holiness that reminds us that God has envisioned us as good;
a holiness that reminds us we are graced with spiritual resources;
a holiness that calls us to be responsive to the “summons” to love, to love unconditionally, to forgive boldly, to embrace the excluded.


If I dive into that holiness, Jesus can look out at the crowd and see me as the meek, identify me as the laborer for righteousness, gaze at me as the single-hearted.

Let us journey through the maze of November’s knowns and unknowns, its daily repetitions and challenges, knowing just as surely that as things living will die what seems to die will live forever.

Where will November take us? To a wholesome celebration of gratitude on Thanksgiving.
Where will November take us? To the threshold of the spiritual awakening of Advent.

November can be as still as it is dark. We know Whom we can meet in that stillness.


God of November

God of November
and all our days,
manifest Yourself in the unlikely.
Open the eyes of our mind
to the possibilities even in bleakness.
Open the eyes of our heart
to deeper seeing
into everything happening
within us and around us,
above us and beyond us.
Give us lenses of insight
into Your actions forming us into saints
through the sorrows and joys of life.
Bring us to truer communion
with You and Your holy ones,
deceased and living.


Reflections with Sister Helen Jean.