Sarah Damm offers 15 ways to live intentionally, gratefully, and liturgically when you're tempted to rush through the season.
November tends to be an undervalued month, easily neglected by a society that quickly moves from one thing to the next. The minute the glorious fall colors turn brown and the fun activities of apple picking and pumpkin carving are checked off the list, our culture leaps over the entire month of November and moves into the Christmas season.
It’s easy to get caught up in it all, too. Christmas movies start playing on cable stations. Peppermint mochas are available at the local coffee shop. And it’s exciting to anticipate “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Saint Paul encourages us,
Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
In the Douay-Rheims, where I originally read this passage, the emphasized phrase translates to “redeeming the time.”
One way we can easily practice this idea of “redeeming the time” is in how we spend our days. We can choose not to skip ahead but rather be present to the current month and liturgical season, as well as the holy days and holidays within it.
As Catholic Christians, we are reminded by Saint Paul how we are to live in the world:
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
So, let’s start “redeeming the time” by rediscovering November’s worth. Let’s take advantage of this quiet, little month and live our November days intentionally, liturgically, and gratefully. Not only will this allow us to appreciate life day by day. It also will help us enter into Advent with joyful anticipation. By slowing down before the whirlwind of the holiday season, we also will be refreshed and ready to tackle the busyness of our December days.
Here are some ways to live out the month of November by “redeeming the time.”
Savor the calm of November by focusing on simple living:
- Cook a big pot of homemade soup
- Make a fire in the fireplace
- Crack open that novel you’ve been meaning to read all year
- Plan a game night with the kids
- Order your Advent wreath candles
There are many beautiful feast days in November. Select one or two to celebrate with special prayers and simple acts of devotion.
- Observe All Saints Day (November 1) by creating a personalized litany of saints
- Remember deceased family and friends on All Souls Day (November 2) by attending a Requiem Mass
- Bring flowers to Mary on the feast of her Presentation (November 21)
- Befriend a new-to-you saint by learning about his or her holy life. How about Saint Martin de Tours (November 11), Saint Gertrude the Great (November 16), or Saint Cecilia (November 22)?
- Begin the powerful Saint Andrew Novena on his feast day (November 30)
Thanksgiving Day invites us to focus on what we are thankful for, but we don’t have to save our gratitude for this one day of the year. Rather, we can practice the virtue of gratitude throughout the entire month of November.
- Keep a gratitude list throughout November. Jot down one, three, or five things you are grateful for each day
- Invite the entire family to keep a gratitude list in a prominent spot in your home. Write blessings on hand-cut leaves and make them part of your fall décor
- Practice lectio divina with Scripture verses that focus on gratitude
- Send hand-written notes to loved ones telling them why you are grateful for them
- Create a playlist with songs that inspire gratitude
This November, let’s redeem the time. Let’s “make the most of the opportunity” to live intentionally, liturgically, and gratefully. So we can appreciate each day as a gift from God, and so we can enter the Advent and Christmas seasons renewed and ready.
Copyright 2022 Sarah Damm