The “Ber” Months Spiritual Significance: Preparing Our Hearts For The Season of Giving
This blog shall attempt to discuss (from a layman’s point of view) the significance of the Ber months and the importance of charity, in relation to the message of the liturgical readings today, the 1st day of the Ber months (Sept.1); and that of Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for the month of September concerning those on the margins of society.
As the Ber months kick off, a sense of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming holidays sweep over us. Gone are the days when the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic hung over us (thanks God); now, the festive and joyful feeling of the holiday season is making a triumphant return. Even at this stage of my life, the first day of September never fails to fill me with a sense of positivity, a psychological boost that stirs up memories of previous Christmases and the happiness they brought.
The familiar rituals of holiday preparations still hold and can influence in our plans on when to assemble and adorn the annual Christmas tree with its twinkling lights and cherished ornaments, and most importantly, pondering the prospect of family gatherings and the accompanying joy. (While writing this blog, I fondly recall my dear sister “ManaMimi” who used to begin the tradition of pulling out and decorating their family’s annual Christmas tree as early as September. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us to continue this cherished tradition, as she now rests in Heaven). While some might dismiss these traditions as shallow or overhyped, there’s an undeniable “hype” associated with them that warms our hearts and brings us happiness.
Yet, alongside the excitement of the Ber months, there’s also a profound sense of tranquility. It’s probably not just me; others may have experienced it too. The Ber months bring with them a peace and a sense of purpose, rooted in the meaningful celebrations that lie ahead such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, to name a few. Once again, we’ll commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus during Christmas, and a reminder to prepare for His Second Coming. This, for me, is the spiritual essence of the Ber months. Whatever challenges the world faces today could serve as a reminder for all of us to make the most of this time, to renew our lives, and to seize the opportunity it presents.
Thus, it’s timely and relevant for us to consider two important aspects: Firstly, how to strengthen our faith in God, and secondly, how to become living examples for others. Both of these ideals embody the two greatest commandments of God: 1. Love God above all things with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
1. Connecting this reflection with today’s Gospel (Sept. 1) – which encourages us to be vigilant and to be always prepared for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This vigilance is not just about passively waiting for His arrival (just like 5 of the 10 virgins who were “foolish” – “when taking their lamps brought no oil with them”) but actively living our lives in a way that reflects His teachings and values. In essence, God is calling us to to lead lives of active charity and love, rather than selfishness. This includes reaching out to those in need, offering kindness and support to others, and striving to make the world a better place through our actions. Another lesson learned from the readings is to take God seriously which involves nurturing our faith, deepening our understanding of His teachings, and constantly striving for self-improvement. It means acknowledging our shortcomings and actively working to become better individuals who reflect the values and virtues that Christ represent. All these are in preparation and in anticipation of our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming.
2. Furthermore, this reflection aligns with Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for September, which call upon us to pray and extend a helping hand to those on “the margins of society in subhuman living conditions that they may not be neglected by institutions and never be cast out”, emphasizing compassion and selflessness. The Holy Father’s call to assist those on the margins of society mirrors Christ’s teachings about caring for the least among us. It reinforces the idea that our faith is not just a personal matter but a call to social responsibility. By helping the marginalized and vulnerable, we are actively living out the Gospel’s message of charity and selflessness. The Pope’s prayer intentions highlight the value of compassion, a core element of Christ’s teachings. Compassion means not only feeling empathy but taking action to alleviate the suffering of others. It’s a practical expression of love and charity, in line with the Gospel’s emphasis on leading lives of active charity.
In the end, the Ber months are more than just a countdown to the holidays; they are a season of spiritual reflection, renewal, and an opportunity to manifest charity in our lives. As we journey these months, let us seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother, Virgin Mary, to be able to discern properly and guide us on how to remain vigilant and prayerful, bearing in mind the words: “Be vigilant at all times and pray, that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man. Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour”.
O Holy Mary, handmaid of the Lord, pray for us.
Jesus King of mercy, we trust in You. Amen.