By Sarah Damm
If I had to guess the calendar date based on my favorite store’s décor, I would get it wrong.
Fall pumpkins, cornucopias, and leafy garlands are nowhere to be found. Only messy remnants of Halloween remain on the clearance racks.
Instead, I see Christmas trees, twinkle lights, and stockings. Signs and symbols of December, not early November.
Whenever I see Christmas coming too early, I feel rushed and anxious. Suddenly, I think I am behind, as if I’ve missed a month and it’s really December 4 instead of November 4. I have to remind myself that I still have an entire month before Advent begins and a good seven weeks before the actual day of Christmas.
That’s why I am so grateful for the liturgical calendar. A calendar that encourages me to slow down, savor, and enter more fully into the moments of life—small and big alike.
Following the liturgical calendar, I am not rushed from one big event to the next. I don’t miss the moments in between, which can be just as special and meaningful.
November is one of those small, in-between months. And yet, it is rich with beauty, remembrance, and blessing. It’s worth being present to November and entering it fully.
In Catholic tradition, the month of November remembers the holy souls in Purgatory. It is customary to visit the gravesites of loved ones this month. And if you cannot, it is a special time to pray earnestly for their entrance into Heaven.
In November, we also honor the lives of some amazing saints. Included in the litany of November saints are these beautiful sisters in Christ: Frances Xavier Cabrini (Nov. 13), Margaret of Scotland (Nov. 16), Elizabeth of Hungary (Nov. 17), and Cecilia (Nov. 22).
Lastly, in November, the Church calls us to keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ’s reign over Heaven and Earth, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King (Nov. 25).
A Month of Gratitude
What makes November even more meaningful is that in the midst of this treasured Catholic heritage, we are invited to focus on the virtue of gratitude. Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but all month long.
Jesus told St. Faustina: “Be grateful for the smallest of My graces, because your gratitude compels Me to grant you new graces.”
Poet John Milton says, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the greatest commandment.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
What better way to show God our complete love than by expressing our gratitude for all that He gives us?
Being Present to November
This November, let’s not worry too much about what our favorite shop is doing. Rather, let’s lean into the wisdom of the Church. Being present to November allows our hearts to slow down and our minds to stop racing, as we enter into a month rich with tradition and blessing.
Here are three ways to remain present to November:
1) Make a list of your deceased loved ones. Add one name to each day of your November calendar, and repeat as necessary. Pray for one person per day throughout the month.
2) Keep a gratitude list throughout November. Jot down one, three, or five things you are grateful for, each day.
3) Pick one feast day to celebrate in a special way this month. For example, bring Mary flowers on the Presentation (Nov. 21). Visit Catholic Culture for a list.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux encourages us: “Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude.”
How do you plan to be present to November? And resist rushing into the next big thing, like the world seems to do?
About the author:
Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, helping with homework, and keeping up with laundry and the family schedule. Sarah loves her faith, coffee, and good books. You can find out more about her and her writing at sarahdamm.com.
I enjoyed your reflection. However, and I hope this does not come across as rude. Why are you shopping at target? Do you not know about their bathroom and dressing room policies? You can use whatever bathroom or dressing room you want. If you “feel” like a girl, but you were born a boy, you can use the girls room. There have been problems with peeping toms due to this policy. Not to mention, that is saying God made a mistake in creating you. I personally am boycotting target. Thank you for your thoughts about November and how to stay present.
Thank you for expressing your thoughts, Laura. I apologize if the store I named offended you. I used Target only as a generalization. I could have plugged in the name on any store, as they all welcome Christmas too early. All I was trying to do was contrast the secular world and the wisdom of the Church … to encourage us not to rush to the next big thing, like the world does, but instead savor the smaller moments of life, which the month of November invites us into.
Have a blessed Sunday!
Laura, thank you for your courageous witness and determination to remind all of us to be watchful of a growing corporate and secular world in contrast to the Christian life of harmony to God’s will. Thank you Sarah and Laura for reminding us to slow down, relish our faith tradition and evangelize this good news in the gifts God has given each of us. Beautiful! Appreciate both of you as sisters in Christ. Enjoy your Sunday and November!
Love the description of November as a small, in-between month! Much to chew on here. Thanks and blessings.
Thank you, Melanie, for your kind words. Blessings to you, too!
I Love this reflection. Just beautiful. Thankful for YOU!
Thank you, Annamarie. I appreciate your thoughtful words.
Love your three suggestions to help savor the month of November. Intend to put them into practice, slow down and enjoy the gift of November.
Thank you, Rita. I pray you have a very blessed November.
Sarah, after reading this article (which was beautiful by the way other than the free advertisement for Target), I had intended to write something very similar to what Laura wrote. We have boycotted Target since 2012 when they donated $120,000 to support “genderless marriage” and their support of Planned Parenthood, and now the truth that men can do do use the bathrooms and dressing rooms that were originally intended for born females alone. Plus, they have stated, along with Starbucks, that if you are conservative they don’t want our money or to shop there. I don’t. I am sorry if this seems extreme, but Target, Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, etc. are the extreme ones. We support traditional, conservative values and so I will never shop at these places again. I loved your article, and it’s meaning, but a free advertisement for Target is what stuck out to me more. I am sorry if I’ve hurt you. I just don’t want people to think you support such organizations either.
Thank you so much for this great reminder. I too get stressed out when reminded daily of “number if days to Christmas “ or “number of shopping days left”. November is a beautiful month here in Minnesota and a nice welcome to reminder to slow down
Praying you have a very lovely and peaceful November, Cheryl. God bless!
Wonderful reflection! My husband I are in RCIA and new to the faith. This Advert will be very special for us especially because we’ve never really celebrated it. We were just like the rest of the crazy consumer world rushing from one event to the other. We feel so blessed to be a part of the Catholic family and appreciate the liturgical year. Keeping time with God is what’s important. God bless you 🙂
What a special time in your life, Sierra! And welcome to the Catholic family! I pray that you and your husband have a beautiful Advent season. God bless!
Welcome home, Sierra!!!!!! We are so happy that you and your husband are joining Jesus’ One True Church! Will be praying for the two of you and that Advent and Christmas are the best and most meaningful you’ve ever had. Many blessings to you and your family!
Thank you, Sarah, for this reflection. It a great way to see November in a different light. Thank for your suggestions to remain present in November. God bless you and your family.
Thanks, Ruth. I am glad you liked it 🙂 I hope you have a very blessed November!
Sarah, I see that you didn’t comment on my post earlier. I apologize that I hurt your feelings. Your post was very important and meaningful. I just get so scared about the liberalness in our country and how uninformed people are about some companies out there. I .was only trying to help, but I guess I failed miserably. God bless you.
Wow Sarah! I have never seen your site before. Powerful. I will only look and strive to experience November as a more peaceful and restorative journey. Blessings from Canada