The poet, T.S. Eliot once said that April was the cruelest month. I don’t know what he had against April, but surely the cold dark winter months of November, December and January have a better claim. Indeed, I sometimes think that the only good thing about November is that my birthday falls then!
We are approaching the end of one year and the beginning of another. Advent starts the Church year a month earlier. It’s a season for reflecting on endings and beginnings. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls which we celebrate at the beginning of November, are a reminder that our time on earth is limited – that we have here, as Scripture tells us, no lasting city but seek the one that is to come. It’s a time for reflecting on our mortality – not in any morbid way but in a way that helps us make sense of the here and now and the hereafter.
This year the Irish Chaplaincy celebrates its 60th birthday. Set up by the Irish bishops as the Irish Emigrant Chaplaincy in a very different social, political and cultural climate, it continues today to provide an outreach service to some of the most vulnerable Irish people in Britain.