Devotions for the Dead
As a Catholic I have always connected the month of November with praying for my dearly departed relatives and visiting their graves at the cemetery the first day of the month. But now, the first day of the month is designated just for Saints and the second day is designated for "All Souls". It was something ingrained as a part of my family culture as a sign of respect for the dead. The Church formally calls us to pray for the "Souls in Purgatory" the entire month.
There are special prayer practices that can help the dead in purgatory be elevated to heaven. A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
A plenary indulgence, again applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Burying the dead is also regarded as a corporal work of mercy. This is a great time to promote your bereavement ministry. Sharing posts about the comfort and consolation that participating in the ministry can bring to those grieving a loss. Being an adult altar server can also be a way to practice this corporal work of mercy.
In today's world it seems the notion of remembering the dead is antiquated. In fact, so many are doing everything they can to cheat death. Not really wanting to accept the reality we will all die and we have no control of when it will happen. Two years ago the Pixar animated feature "CoCo" debuted in theaters and although many just look at it as a depiction of the Dia de los Muertos celebration - it is so much more than that! It reminds us in a very simple and childlike way that when we forget the dead they evaporate as if they never existed.
Our lives have meaning and our existence should be remembered and celebrated. Every month of the year in the Catholic tradition the Saints have a day set aside for us to remember the impact their lives had on inspiring and propagating the faith. This month we memorialize: St. Martin de Porres (November 3) St. Charles Borromeo, (November 4), Lateran Basilica (November 9), St. Leo the Great (November 10), St. Martin of Tours (November 11), St. Josaphat (November 12), St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (November 13), St. Albert the Great (November 15), Sts. Margaret of Scotland and Gertrude (November 16), St. Elizabeth of Hungary (November 17), Presentation of Mary (November 21), St. Cecilia (November 22), Sts. Clement I and St. Columban (November 23), St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions (November 24), St. Catherine of Alexandria (November 25) and St. Andrew (November 30).
The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe on November 24th can be used as a countdown to Christmas. Instagram has a wonderful feature that allows you to create a countdown that can be a part of a story. Start making a list of what your parish will do to prepare for the glory of Christmas day. Sharing the behind the scenes of what it takes to design the unique experience of your community, helps you get ready now for the Advent season.
Veteran's day is also set aside to remember those who have served our country through military service. A lot of parishes or Catholic schools have scouting organizations that will place flags on the graves of veterans at the cemetery. Capture these activities and share on your social media pages. This year November 11th is also National Cupcake Day and putting little flags on them might be a great way to celebrate both.
Other month long observances include National Adoption Awareness, Alzheimer's Awareness, Family Caregivers, NoSHAVEmber and Diabetes Awareness. All of which can be added to the prayers of the faithful or graphic post with prayers for one of these focuses.
This month is also a time to celebrate the contributions of Black Catholics to the history of our Church. We also celebrate our priests commitment to their vocation the first week of this month. A great share to celebrate both would be to share an article or create a post about St. Martin de Porres the first black Catholic saint and priest! While St. Martin's feast day falls on a Sunday so the Mass supersedes the feast, but it can still be shared as a post on social media. Would also be good to ask your parish priest to share why they love being a priest and create a post with a picture of them with a quote written over it.
Thanksgiving is also top of mind for most of us this month as we plan to celebrate with family around a table of food. While many of us have an abundance on the 17th of the month we are called to observe "World Day of the Poor". This would be an awesome opportunity to host a food drive for a local food pantry near your parish.
Plans for the annual appeal will also begin this month. As many will shift from Thanksgiving to Christmas shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don't forget to capitalize on Giving Tuesday too! Creating posts to drive parishioners to digital portals to complete the annual appeal are great ways to spark engagement around these popular social media themes.
Hoping these tips are helpful to you!