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Episode No. 20: The Church Music of Autumn

Fall is a beautiful season – the beginning of the academic and choral year, the changing of the leaves, the cooling of the weather. In the church, there are many important liturgical moments that are celebrated in October, and in today’s episode we listen to some of the gorgeous music that accompanies these liturgies including the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, the White Mass for the medical profession, and the Red Mass calling on the Holy Spirit upon our lawmakers.


The Douglas family ended summertime by waging war with an obnoxious invasion of disgusting houseflies. 

Christened the Terminator by our daughter as I stalked the flying invaders with my trusty swatter, I laid waste to the airborne army, leaving their broken bodies behind.  

The horrifying houseflies were merely the latest incident in a summer fraught with horror. It was impossible to enjoy a summer break as we sweated through record-breaking heat and violent street protests, raging firefights and political scandals.  

That doesn’t include the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has threatened, isolated, maimed, and even murdered many of us.  

With the insect invasion, it felt to me like the serene sanctuary of our home was destroyed.  

Finally, autumn has dawned with its cooler temperatures, cozy sweaters, and the promise of Pumpkin Spice everything. I’m happier than ever to see the seasons change. 

Fall 2020 is a perfect time for reflection, a season ripe for giving thanks to God. I find myself renewing commitments to my faith and my family. What usually is a time full of frantic activity, this year brings what feels like a unique opportunity for preparation, prayer, and introspection.  

It’s a season in which the sacrament of reconciliation is most welcome as we prepare to give thanks and give gifts with hearts full of steadfast love and healing devotion. Perhaps as never before, we crave the comfort and warmth of the holiday season with its familiar customs, opportunities for festive fun, and the special love of our family and friends.  

Halloween, of course, kicks off the holiday season. We won’t be welcoming trick-or-treaters to our doorstep, but I’ve promised to decorate, bake sugar cookies shaped like ghosts and pumpkins, and proceed with the holiday as usual. 

Whether or not we will be able to welcome members of our extended family to this year’s Thanksgiving celebration remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I plan to stuff the turkey, whip up a pumpkin pie, and polish the silver. I’ll air out the fine linens and get out the fancy china.  

For once, my list of to-dos in preparation for the holidays – the checklist of chores, housework, cooking, baking, decorating, errands, gift-giving, and more – is welcome. I’m looking forward to the distractions. 

Still, distractions won’t end the pain of separation and loss that so many of us are experiencing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Our grieving continues, despite seasonal festivities. 

Yet we know our loved ones are welcomed to the kingdom of everlasting life by our savior Jesus, whose resurrection from the dead fills us with everlasting hope, enduring patience, and deep fortitude. 

We endure, then, and trudge forward into a new season on the calendar and a new season in our hearts. With God’s love surrounding us, we are fortified. We endure our losses. We find comfort in our ongoing blessings and our bittersweet memories. 

I welcome autumn with open arms and an open heart.  

Please join me in embracing joy as the leaves turn and the nights darken. Let us renew our dedication to love. Let us deepen our faith with prayer. Let us worship God together, give thanks together, and join together in praise as one – if not in person then in spirit.  

God bless you.