November Spiritual Heroes
Spiritual Heroes for Commemoration at Communion
November 1: Feast of All Saints—The tradition of remembering all the saints together dates to the early history of the Church, which affirmed “the communion of saints” as the mystical Body of Christ, transcending both time and space. This collective feast reminds us that each of us has our own special gifts, and we are each called to do something holy for God.
November 2: All Souls Day— In some traditions there has been a distinction between remembering the official canonized saints on All Saints Day and commemorating those whose names are not on any calendar, but are cherished as models of faith, or are dearly loved family and friends. They, as well, are part of that great “cloud of witnesses” who encourage us in our spiritual journey.
November 9: Martyrs of Kristallnacht (1938)—Victims of anti-Semitism. As part of the buildup to what became the “final solution,” the Nazis mounted a coordinated assault on the entire Jewish community of Germany. In one night the storm troopers burned down 191 synagogues, destroyed 7,500 shops, rounded up 20,000 Jewish men for “protective custody” at Buchenwald concentration camp, and killed 100 Jews. The pogrom became known as Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night, for all the broken windows. There was virtually no protest outside of Germany to this action.
November 11: Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)—Philosopher. A prolific author whose writings were important in the development of Existentialism, Kierkegaard barely saw himself a Christian. He devoted himself to exposing official Christianity, and especially the Church of Denmark, as fraudulent. He originally planned to go into the Lutheran ministry, but instead chose a life of introspection and writing. Compared with the New Testament, he charged, official Christianity was nothing more than play-acting.
November 12: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1694)—Poet and scholar. Born near Mexico City to an unwed mother, Sister Juana had a passion for learning that led to her becoming the first great poet of Latin America and early champion of equality for women in the church.
November 16: St. Margaret (1046-1093)—Queen and patron of Scotland. One of the last members of Anglo-Saxon royalty, she married King Malcom of Scotland. There she devoted much of her life to reforming the church and clergy, as well as founding many schools, hospitals, and orphanages. She was famous for her love for the poor and for reducing warfare between the clans.
November 26: Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)—Abolitionist preacher. Born a slave to a Dutch family in New York, Sojourner (a name she chose later in life) was freed when slavery there was abolished. She became noted as a passionate itinerant preacher and a legend even in her own life. She devoted her life to the antislavery cause, and later to women’s suffrage and equal rights. While some thought it was best to set aside the rights of women for a later date, in her mind the two were inseparable.
November 27: Harvey Milk (1931-1978)—First openly gay elected official (USA). Although not a professional politician, Harvey Milk ran for a seat as a City Supervisor in San Francisco in order to stand for the rights of people without a voice —blue collar workers, the elderly, racial minorities, and especially gays and lesbians. He expected he would die violently, and was shot five times at close range by another politician angered at his stand for gays. That night 40,000 people took to the streets in a candle light vigil outside City Hall. Although not a religious person, he is remembered because, as Cardinal Juan Fresnos of Chile said, “Whosoever stands up for human rights stands up for the rights of God.”
November 29: Dorothy Day (1897-1980)—Prophet of social justice. Despite the fact she held no official position in the Catholic church, and that her thoughts were mostly rejected in her life, it was said at her death that she was “the most influential, interesting, and significant figure” in the history of American Catholicism. Committed to social justice and pacifism, she founded a lay movement, the Catholic Worker movement, which sought to live out the radical gospel commandment of love in the social and political realm by embracing voluntary poverty.