In mid-October I was able to take a week of vacation. Because I needed to be in New York City for a consultation on a church renovation, I decided to start my “days off” once I had finished that work. Autumn in New England is a wonderful time. The crisp, cool mornings and the beautiful tapestry of colors amid rolling hills and mountains is a great experience.
On a Sunday afternoon stroll at a state park in Massachusetts, as the leaves crunched beneath my every step, the symbols of grace from the beauty of nature (God’s glorious Creation) were apparent. Leaves of green that proclaimed the glory of the Risen Christ as they appeared in the Spring had passed through their life cycle, were dead and now awaited a kind of burial in the winter’s snow, yet to come. The liturgical year of the Church journeys the faithful through this cycle again-and-again, year-in-and-year-out — from birth to life to death. This is our life cycle, too. And it’s the cycle that Jesus, the Son of God, fully experienced as he came among us, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, to share our life.
Death is a part of life. But for Christians our belief that Jesus has triumphed over death brings about new beginnings that are eternal. November and the early weeks of Advent which are right around the corner are the Church’s time to remind us of this reality AND the transformative grace that comes from God alone.