The Month of Saints
November is the month when we are called in a special way to remember those people in our lives who are no longer with us. All Souls’ Day is a time to pray for their repose, to make a pilgrimage to their graves — going there physically or “visiting” the dear departed in our minds — and also to contemplate our own mortality.
The latter in particular is important throughout the year, of course. Because death can take us at any random time, as the Covid pandemic has so cruelly reminded us, we should always be spiritually prepared. And, as our article on page 16 counsels us, we also ought to be ready to leave our administrative affairs in order, just in case.
November is also the month of All Saints. The feast is the celebration of saints who are known or unknown, raised to the altars or never to be canonised. We consider some of the canonised saints this month, for example six patron saints for good health on page 21, which we present with a little wink of the eye. This month we cook with saints in two recipes by Grazia Barletta, whom we also introduce by way of a profile. Even the story of the present Saint of the Month, St Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal, involves a couple of other saints.
On page 12 we look at a fascinating project titled “Black Saints Matter”. As it is with the movement from which this project borrows its name, the implication is not that these saints matter more or others less, but that black saints and candidates for canonisation need to become better-known. Test yourself: how many black saints, blesseds and venerables do you know?
But we are also looking at uncanonised saints, bearing in mind that canonisation is just the Church’s official confirmation that a person is with God. On page 22, three readers tell us about saintly people in their families. We may read these accounts as proxies for the particular saints in our lives. Indeed, these memories might help us as we reflect on the lives of the “anonymous” saints we have known. It may be a fruitful exercise to set some time aside with our families or friends or other groups, and share stories and memories of such saints. And we may ask them to intercede on our behalf. God knows and hears them.
Our profile story this month is about a man whom many consider an uncanonised saint — and after reading the story by Daluxolo Moloantoa, you might agree with them. Fr Michele (or Michael) D’Annucci was murdered in Pretoria 20 years ago on December 8, so we could have run his story next month. But Fr Michele also fits the criteria for the category of uncanonised saints. Perhaps that will change at some future point: Fr Michele was murdered “in the line of duty”, to use police terminology, and so might qualify for categorisation as a “martyr of charity”, in the terms outlined by Pope Francis in 2017.
Ten years ago, climate-change experts and politicians gathered in Durban to discuss ways of saving our planet from the effects of human-induced pollution. A decade later, there has been progress — but not enough.
Since Durban 2011, Pope Francis has issued the ethical proposition on the crisis in his landmark encyclical Laudato Si’. Bernadette Crewe-Brown’s article in this issue surveys the situation as it is now, how it will be if there is no urgent action, and how we should respond to the crisis with the pope’s guidance.
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