Deepen your faith this fall

By Linda Andrade Rodrigues, Anchor Correspondent

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — A busy time of year, the season of autumn heralds a period of radical change. The school year begins. Days grow shorter and colder. Leaves change color. We bring in the harvest and prepare for winter.

Conversely, amidst this flurry of activity, the Church offers us a time to rest in contemplation.

The time between Christmas and Lent and between Pentecost and Advent is known as “Ordinary Time,” the space outside the seasons of the two great feasts of the Church: Christmas and Easter. 

“These two periods of time in the Liturgical year, they are contemplative times,” said Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister in “The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life.” “In this period that is between the two poles of the life of Jesus, we get to pause awhile — to take it all in. They give us time to contemplate the intersection between the life of Jesus and our own.”

Many Spiritual mentors today recommend that we do some type of contemplative prayer of quiet regularly, including Father Ronald Rolheiser of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In “Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity,” Father Rolheiser writes about the lack of silence and solitude in our lives. 

“And we end up as good people, but as people who are not very deep: not bad, just busy; not immoral, just distracted; not lacking in soul, just preoccupied; not disdaining depth, just never doing the things to get us there.”

To really stretch ourselves, we must delve into the wisdom writings, according to Catholic author Matthew Kelly.

“It is in these writings that our intellect comes face-to-face with the most profound questions and truths about the world, creation, God, humanity, and our individual journeys,” he said in “The Rhythm of Life.” “The wisdom writings seek not to entertain us, but to reveal to us who we are and why we are here. The wisdom writings gently call us out of our comfort zones and challenge us to improve, develop, grow, and live life to the fullest.”

During “Ordinary Time” we observe the great feast of All Saints’ Day on November 1, and the fall feast days of saints. Let us ponder some of their wisdom writings. 

The patron of charitable groups, St. Vincent de Paul (1580-1660) founded the congregation of the Priests of the Mission, called Lazarists or Vincentians, and together with St. Louise de Marillac founded the Sisters of Charity. His feast day is September 27.

“The Church is compared to a great harvest field that needs laborers, but the laborers are wanting,” said St. Vincent de Paul. “There is nothing more in keeping with the Gospel than, on the one hand, to gather up light and strength for the soul in prayer, Spiritual reading, and solitude, and then to go forth and dispense this Spiritual good to men. This is doing what our Lord, and His Apostles after Him, enjoined. This is to join the office of Martha and Mary. This is to imitate the dove, that half digests its food and then with its beak places the remainder in the mouths of its young to feed them. That is how we should act, that is how we should bear witness to God, by our deeds, that we love Him!”

A Doctor of the Church, St. Jerome (342-420) succinctly offers us guidance in our work ethic. The saint’s day is September 30. He is invoked by those with failing eyesight and is the protector of students, pilgrims, and librarians. 

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ’Til your good is better, and your better is best,” instructed St. Jerome. He also advised: “Keep doing some kind of work, that the devil may always find you employed.”

We venerate St. Therese of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) on October 1. She is a Doctor of the Church, and the patroness of foreign missions and concerns of children.

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love,” St. Therese said.

The patron saint of Italy and protector of merchants, ecologists, animals, and poets, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) founded the Friars Minor. We remember him on October 4.

St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” 

We memorialize St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) on October 15. A Doctor of the Church who founded the order of Discalced Carmelites, she is the patroness of Spain and protector of Catholic writers and those in religious orders.

St. Teresa of Jesus said, “Let nothing disturb you,/Let nothing frighten you,/All things are passing away:/God never changes./Patience obtains all things./Whoever has God lacks nothing;/God alone suffices.”

On November 4, we honor St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584). He is the protector of seminarians, catechists, and teachers.

“If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out,” said St. Charles. “Stay quiet with God.” 

St. Martin of Tours (315-397) is venerated on Veterans Day, November 11. He is the protector of soldiers.

“Lord, if Your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done,” said St. Martin. “I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if You bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of Your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work You entrust to me. While You command, I will fight beneath Your banner.” 

The first American citizen to be canonized, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917) founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Her saint’s day is November 13, and she is the patroness of immigrants.

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him,” St. Frances said. 

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