The reflection is reprinted with permission from the Nov. 7, 2010 parish bulletin of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Midtown Manhattan. In it, Tony shares thoughts about November as a month of changing seasons and remembering loved ones.
November for me is a special month for remembrances and transitions. Regarding transitions, weather-wise, we progress from the colorful days of autumn to the preparations for the coming of winter. In the church calendar, we draw to conclusion the season of ordinary time for the beginning of a new church year as Advent approaches.
November is also a month for remembrance. According to the dictionary, one of the meanings of remembrance is “to keep in mind as worthy of affection or recognition.” Traditionally, November is the month dedicated to the memory of the Holy Souls. Two of the holy souls that are affectionate remembrances for me are my deceased parents, Vincent and Felicia LoGalbo. Both were first generation Americans born of immigrant Italian parents.
My father, Vincent, was a butcher and managed the family business inherited from his parents. My mother, Felicia, was a housewife and homemaker who helped occasionally, when needed in the store.
Mom and Dad were hardworking, generous and loving, and they created a stable environment where my sister and I could grow and flourish. They were practicing Catholics, not overly pious, but regular churchgoers — faithful and giving of themselves to extended family and neighbors when help was needed. My way of honoring and remembering them is to incarnate into my daily life the values they exemplified in theirs. No one ever fully leaves father or mother, one only separates in time and place; the bond remains forever.
Another remembrance I treasure is that this month is also the month of my birthday, which is Nov. 3 to be exact. It tops off the first triduum of the month which I refer to facetiously as All Saints, All Souls, All Me! For me, part of the celebration of my birthday is an opportunity to reflect on what has happened to me in the preceding year, where am I in my relationship to God.
I find that my image is changing; one thing is: getting older for sure! God remains present and active in my life. God works through me, but I can be bored and excited, tired or energized, listless or lyrical, sad or cheerful, apathetic or zealous, rejected or affirmed, cantankerous or content. God works through me better on some days than on others. Part of my desire is to bring the best me I can to the people with whom I live, work and pray.
Perhaps it may be a good time for you to stop and reflect: What do you have to be thankful for? Where are you in your relationship with God? Whose remembrance to you honor and cherish?
— Br. Tony is director of the Center for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction at St Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street, Manhattan.