Ah fall. Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, harvest moons, and pumpkin spice lattes. There is so much goodness and richness to look forward to each fall–– it’s no wonder it’s so many people’s favorite time of year! But there are also so many amazing Catholic things to look forward to in the fall! Here are 7 of them.
September is really the month of Mary
I know that May is called the month of Mary and that we celebrate her so much then (May is actually a short-form of Mary!). But September has so many wonderful feasts and references to Our Lady, too.
September 8th is the Nativity of Mary (aka her birthday!). September 12th is the celebration of the Holy Name of Mary. Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15th. On September 22nd we celebrate St. Anne giving Mary her name. And, not last by a long shot, on September 27th we celebrate Mary Maris Stella (Our Lady, Star of the Sea). And so many more!!
On September 29th, we celebrate Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael the Archangels. These are the only angels named in Scripture and they each played an important part in salvation history, which is why we celebrate them. A common question is why are they called saints if they’re angels? Saint doesn’t mean “holy human being” but simply “holy one” so technically all angels are saints! A great way to celebrate this feast is by praying the prayer to St. Michael and asking his and all angels’ protection over you in all you do.
Before you say, “But Halloween is secular and/or the night the devil plays!!” remember that Halloween is actually a Catholic holiday and tradition. It is the night before All Saints’ Day and two nights before All Souls’ Day. Halloween is actually the beginning of the month of memento mori, of remembering our death and that death comes for all. It’s not a scary night but a night of remembrance and acknowledgment. Now, if you want to celebrate that by dressing up and getting free candy from neighbors, that’s perfectly licit! Just put those Chick Tracts down (and maybe burn them. Fire is a great way to celebrate Halloween).
All Saints’ Day
As I said above, All Saints’ Day is a very important day in the Catholic calendar and part of the trifecta of “memento mori” days (the three celebrations of Halloween or All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day is often referred to as Allhallowtide). It is on this day (November 1) that we celebrate the communion of saints, those who have been formally canonized and those whose names we do not know but who enjoy the Beatific Vision nonetheless. This is a great day to remember all of the saints, to more deeply understand why they are saints, and to look into ourselves and see the universal call to holiness unveiled in our hearts, urging us to participate more fully in God’s love and holiness.
All Souls’ Day
The last day in the “memento mori” days, we remember all the souls of the faithful departed on this day (November 2). We remember all of our loved ones who have passed on to eternal life before us and we pray for them, that they might attain the Beatific Vision. While not a Holy Day of Obligation, a great way to celebrate this day is by going to mass and offering it for all of the deceased. We do this in the hope of the Resurrection and the hope that those who come after us will also pray for us when we pass from this life to the next.
October is a powerhouse of saint feast days
We’ve got St. Thérèse of Lisieux on the 1st, St. Theodore Guerin on the 3rd, St. Francis of Assisi on the 4th, and St. Faustina on the 5th and that’s just in the first week! We also celebrate St. Damien of Molokai, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Gerard, St. Hedwig, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Sts. Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brebeuf, Pope St. John Paul II, Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, and St. Jude. AND SO MANY MORE!
This holiday has become controversial in recent years and rightfully so. But I think there’s still goodness to be had from it. Thanksgiving is a time of gathering together as family or friends, to acknowledge the bounty that surrounds us, and to thank God for that bounty. And not just the bounty of food! (though that is the physical manifestation of it on this day).
The bounty of life, relationships, jobs, homes, people, and God’s love and grace. It can also be a day to acknowledge past wrongdoings and vow to do better, since we’ve been given the bounty of a brand new day. Historically, it is also important to remember all of the circumstances surrounding Thanksgiving, to mourn the forceful way this land was appropriated from the native peoples and to fight to never let that happen again. This is a good way to close out the season of fall and begin the season of Advent when we clear the cobwebs and spiders out of our hearts to prepare room for the infant Jesus to dwell.