Fr Bob writes : In my home country, England, November 5th is known as ‘Guy Fawkes Night ” . It recalls that Guy Fawkes, way back in the 18th century, was discovered with other conspirators trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament and was burnt at the stake for treason. The night is always commemorated by letting off fireworks, and holding bonfires in which a dummy, called a “guy” is set alight. A jingle we used to sing as kids was “Remember, remember the 5th of November!”
We are entering the month of November, the month in which we traditionally “remember” family and friends who have passed on, and we pray for their souls. On November 2nd we celebrate the Feast of All Souls, when we pray for the souls in purgatory, that they will soon be released from the cleansing from sin that they are undergoing so they can continue on their journey towards the everlasting bliss of heaven. Souls in purgatory can pray for others, such as us on earth, but cannot pray for themselves. They are part of what is called “The Church Suffering.” The “Church Triumphant” includes those who have made it to heaven, and we celebrate their memory on November 1st in the Feast of All Saints. The “Church Militant” includes all the believers still alive, here on earth.
November 11th is, of course, known as “Remembrance” Sunday, because we recall and honour those men and women who gave their lives for our freedom in the various world and international wars over the last century or so. “We will remember them” runs part of the Pledge of Remembrance which we always recite on that day. This Sunday at St Philip’s we will celebrate our annual Remembrance Day service. It is always a very moving and humbling occasion, and I know that, this year, I will be mourning the fact that fewer servicemen and women will be present at the service, due to old age, infirmity and death. It is important that we continue to “remember” their great sacrifice on our behalf.
Scripture makes a constant point of the importance of “remembering.” Over and over again, for instance, Moses exhorts the people of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy to “remember” all that God has done for them in rescuing them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them to the Promised Land of Canaan. The “tassels” and “phylacteries” mentioned by Jesus in the gospel were ways designed by God to help the people never to forget all he had done for them. Moses’ continued pleas to his people to remember God in all their ways has an air almost of desperateness about them, because he knows by bitter experience how prone they are to forget their God and go after other gods instead.
The human tendency to forget seems to be really deep within each of us. Hence the call to remembrance in this month of November should be attended to with absolute seriousness and intentionality, so that we don’t forget what is most important for our lives, especially our duty to remember our loved ones who have passed on, and their sacrifices for our freedoms. And above all, never to forget the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to win us freedom from sin and death, and bring us to eternal bliss in heaven.