November reminds us to use the gift of time wisely Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

In 1972 Jim Croce recorded the song, "Time in a Bottle." The lyrics of the song that especially spoke to me were, "But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them." These words seemed prophetic. Jim Croce was killed in a plane accident on September 20, 1973.

Jim Croce's death or any death reminds us of the fragility of life. Death reminds us Catholics that we are pilgrims on a journey through time to Eternity. Earth is our temporary home. Heaven is our Eternal Home. St. Paul urges us to run the race of life for the prize of Eternal Glory.

At the Judgment, Christ will ask us if we have been responsible stewards of the gift of life that God has given to us. Hopefully we will respond, "Yes, Lord, I have used your gifts of time, talent, and treasure to help to bring about the Kingdom of God." And we pray that Jesus responds, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the fullness of Eternal life."

Focus on 'last things'

During November the Church invites us to focus upon last things which pertain to our Eternal destiny — Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and the Second Coming of Jesus.

We begin November on All Saints Day when, according to Pope Urban IV, we honor all saints, known and unknown. The saints remind us that we who are baptized are called to holiness. The example of their lives can inspire us to follow Jesus as they did. On All Saints Day especially, we ask our brothers and sisters in Heaven to pray to God for us.

Praying for all souls

On All Souls Day we join the saints in Heaven in praying for our brothers and sisters in Purgatory. In Paragraph 1032 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is stated, "From the beginning, the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice so that thus purified, they may attain the Beatific Vision of God."

On All Souls Day the Church also invites us to visit our parish cemetery, the final resting place for the body until it is reunited with the soul at the resurrection. We may obtain a plenary indulgence when we devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed from November 1 to 8. This indulgence is applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

We conclude the Sundays of the Church year by celebrating the Feast of Christ the King. This feast reminds us that we will be judged on how well we spent the gift of our life to help to bring about God's kingdom of justice, love, and mercy!

All Saints Day reminds us that each time we pray the "Hail Mary," we ask the Blessed Mother to pray for us now and at the hour of our death. This reminds us, too, that St. Joseph, Mary's spouse, is the patron saint of a happy death. Among other things, a happy death means meeting our Lord in death in a state of grace, ready and eager to give a joyful, responsible accounting of our stewardship of the gift of our life to Him.

The day after we end the current Church year of Cycle A Scripture Mass readings, we immediately begin Cycle B readings of the next Church year by beginning the season of Advent when we focus upon waiting for the coming of Jesus and repeat the cycle.

Particular and Last Judgment

November's emphasis on last things reminds us that we will die. When we die, our soul will depart from our body and appear before our Lord in the Particular Judgment. In paragraph 1038 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is stated that the resurrection of all the dead will precede the Last Judgment when our body will be reunited with our soul. The unjust "will go away into Eternal punishment but the righteous into Eternal Life." In paragraph 1058 of the Catechism it is stated that the Church prays that no one should be lost.

On the glorious Feast of Christ the King, we rejoice that Christ is enthroned at the right hand of the Father as Judge and King. We show that we have honored him as King by treating others as we would treat Jesus himself. By so doing we hope to hear Jesus' heavenly words, "Come, you have my Father's blessing; inherit the full of the kingdom."

The song "Time in a Bottle" and Jim Croce's early unexpected death remind us that our lives are enclosed in a fragile bottle of time. We believers pray for grace to make time to do the things God wants us to do.

We do this aided by the Holy Spirit who helps us to discern God's will for us. November reminds us that the way we use our time now can determine how we spend forever. Let us use it wisely. In the song, "Amazing Grace" are the words, "And grace will lead me home." Our hope is that by responding to grace, we will be welcomed into our Heavenly Home. This is Good News!

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.