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November is by far my favorite month of the year. It’s sort of bittersweet, but that is why I like it. The darkness lengthens, the trees turn, the air becomes chilled. And yet there is a special light and warmth as well. The warm hues of autumn leaves and gourds and chrysanthemums. The golden tone of the slanting sunlight. All the abundance and togetherness and festivities–not to mention smells and tastes–of the Thanksgiving feast. Wearing sweaters and fleecy pajamas for the first time in months. I appreciate and cherish these things more with each passing year!
I turned 36 this month, and that too was bittersweet. On one hand, I feel disappointment because my life at this age is nothing like how I always hoped and anticipated. I thought that surely by this time, I would be married and have at least a couple of children and a house all our own. Maybe I would even be able to leave the workforce to tend to the home and educate the children. I fully expected to be living a normal, respectable, successful life. But things have not turned out that way. In some ways, I feel like I have not made any progress at all from where I was ten years ago… only I’ve lost people and things that made up so much of the joy I had ten years ago.
But I’ve also gained important things: faith, maturity, and wisdom. And the older I get, the more I cherish the important things and the less I care about unimportant things, such as what people think or say about me, or how the world measures what is normal, respectable, and successful. The older I get, the more content (but not complacent) I become. And that is very liberating!
Also this month was Election Day in the United States, and it included the biggest election of all, the presidential election. I did my civic duty as a voter, and did so proudly and gratefully. But on the whole, I don’t put too much stock in government and politics. There is no form of worldly government that can make me entirely secure and confident. There is no form of worldly government that can make people happy. Happiness and security and confidence come from the heavenly kingdom and its Lord. This is not to say that the election didn’t impact me. It impacted me in that it revealed, yet again, how very polarized this nation is. No matter who won the most votes, nearly half the nation was going to feel defeated and frustrated and defiant. That’s not a good thing, and I don’t envy the president one bit. I also don’t much envy those who put him in office, for the burden of what happens in the next four years is going to be largely upon them.
But as for me, I shall continue doing what I always do and putting my trust and hope where I always put them, in my King and my God. My citizenship and good standing in His kingdom will always come first. Funny how folks in this country used to be suspicious of Catholics and say that Catholics could never be good Americans because they give their primary allegiance to the Vatican. The Vatican?! Boy, they didn’t know the half of it! They thought much too lowly and safely and mundanely of us. For we Catholics don’t just give our primary allegiance to another worldly kingdom, but to a completely otherworldly kingdom. We Catholics are far more bold and radical than our fellow citizens have ever given us credit for. The rather ironic part is that our allegiance to God and His kingdom actually entail being loyal and responsible to our earthly homes and leaders (or at least their offices). In the spirit of true charity, we love and serve our nation and respect our leaders out of love for God and Heaven. To adapt the famous last words of St. Thomas More, “I am the Republic’s good servant, but God’s first.”
November increases my tendency to wax poetic and philosophic.
For now, I am going to put aside my computer and go fix myself a nightcap of hot chocolate blended with a little tot of whiskey.
For Morning Prayer today, I decided to do the version for Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday. I just felt a great need to honor Mary and to pray in a special way for her intercession. I’ve been getting more and more excited (not necessarily in a good way) about Election Day and about our country in general. Fortunately, the U.S. couldn’t have a better Patroness: Mary, the Immaculate Conception. Saying the prayers in her honor, followed by a Rosary, really helped put me at ease. I found the Psalms to be rather appropriate, as well.
I prayed this one especially on behalf of our civil leaders and those running for office:
God of my fathers, Lord of Mercy,
You who have made all things by Your word
and in Your wisdom have established man
to rule the creatures produced by You,
to govern the world in holiness and justice,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at Your throne,
and reject me not from among Your children;
for I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid,
a man weak and short-lived
and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws.
Indeed, though one be perfect among the sons of men,
if Wisdom, who comes from You, be not with him,
he shall be held in no esteem.
Now with You is Wisdom, who knows Your works
and was present when You made the world;
who understands what is pleasing in Your eyes
and what is conformable with Your commands.
Send her forth from Your holy heavens
and from Your glorious throne dispatch her
that she may be with me and work with me,
that I may know what is Your pleasure.
For she knows and understands all things,
and will guide me discreetly in my affairs
and safeguard me by her glory.
No matter who becomes president, he will need wisdom from above… I just hope he is open to receiving it.
The Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel never hurts, either, especially in these difficult and uncertain times:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us
in battle, be our protection against the
wickedness and snares of the devil. May
God rebuke him we humbly pray; and
do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell Satan
and all evil spirits who wander through
the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Now to Evening Prayer!