The month of September is upon us. This month brings with it the season of fall as well as the realization that the freer days of the summer have passed and a more routine schedule of life is before us. School has begun, vacations are over and new expectations are placed upon us. The month of September is very much like the month of January. We are vividly aware that the holidays are over but that a new beginning is before us with new challenges and possibilities. While the summer brought us time for relaxation and more time to be with our families, September brings with it new possibilities for our family relationships as well as for growth in our lives and our relationship with God. The summer days will be missed, but September brings a renewed outlook since we have had a change of pace during the summer and we now look forward to living our lives in the fullest possible way.
The first thing that September celebrates is Labor Day. Labor Day is a reminder that work is a good part of our living in which we engage our talents and abilities to support ourselves and our families as well is to make a contribution to others. God created us so that we could be engaged in labor, not as a burden, but as an opportunity to enter into the very substance of life. While labor does bring with it a toil that causes a need for rest, it also brings with it a fulfillment which results in a true joy which includes rest. Certainly, the very beginning of the Bible reminds us of God's involvement in labor when He created the world and how His labor was a source of joy which is meant to be part of our lives.
As we enter into the month of September and the more routine aspects of our lives, it is well for us to take the opportunity to reflect upon what really matters for us. First and foremost is our relationship with God. We are created by Him and in His image and likeness. He created us in order that we might have a personal relationship with Him and in that relationship to find our purpose, realization and happiness. God has called each of us to a particular vocation in life and as we live that vocation, in carrying out the labor that is part of it, we enter more deeply into communion with Him. We need God’s family, the Church, to help us grow in our relationship with Him as well as with each other. The celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments enhance that relationship and help us to embrace more deeply a life of prayer. Prayer is essential to who we are. In our conversation with God we come to know ourselves better and to know the fullness of His love and mercy for us. Without this basic realization in life, nothing really can fulfill us and give us the enthusiasm for life that a relationship with God brings.
September helps us to grow in our relationship with our families. The time we spent with our families over the summer is now more enhanced as we enter into the many aspects of our lives which are essential to them. Since God created us in His image and in His likeness, He created us to be like Him who is a Trinity of love. That is why family life reflects the life of God in the most perfect way. A husband and wife giving themselves to each other results in the life of children in the family. The love within a family, and many times the sacrifices that go with that love, is a participation in the love and life of God Himself. As we become more involved in our work and as our children return to school, all of our activity aims at enhancing our lives and our families in a way which brings new life to us.
While our children have already undertaken a new school year, September is the month that is the real getting down to business of school. While most children would be happy to remain on summer vacation, there is an excitement and joy that comes with the beginning of school and the engagement of young people's abilities as they grow in understanding the meaning of life. School challenges children to do their best, to realize that doing their best is true success, and to grow in relationships with friends and new friends who help them understand who they are and to learn more about the world which God has created for them. So many new aspects of knowledge are brought to young people through the subjects they are taught, the reading they are involved in and the activities they undertake. It is well for us to realize that, as adults, our lives still are much like being in school and the more we do our best, grow in our relationships, understand more about the world God has created, and most especially enhance our relationship with God, the more we realize who we are and find the joy God wants us to have.
As we begin the month of September, we are reminded of the reality that time moves along. In southern Florida we do not have the vivid signs of the changing of the seasons as is experienced in other geographical locations. The changing of the seasons reminds us of the moving ahead of life and of our moving through it to our ultimate goal which is God's Kingdom. September is a good reminder of that movement and of the importance of our relationship with God in that movement.
Many poems, songs and stories have been written about the month of September and the special place it has between the summer and fall as life picks up a more normal routine. Perhaps the best-known, learned by all of us as children, is the rhyme, "Thirty Days Has September ..." It goes back to the sixteenth century and is not so much about September as it is about the movement of time and the number of days in the moment of time. Groucho Marx remarked that Thirty Days was his favorite poem because it actually tells us something. It is not an exaggeration to say that September actually tells us something about life which is very important!
A blessed September to all!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
August 25, 2017