The fall has always been my favorite season of the year. There’s just something about the crispness of the air, the colors on the trees,
and the prospect of sitting outdoors by a fire that bring a smile to my face. Cool nights, warm sweaters, and hot drinks (although you
can keep the pumpkin spice concoctions) — I would happily live in fall all year round, if I could!

During my years in seminary in Rome, I had to learn to live without the joys of my favorite season. “Fall,” if you can call it that in Rome,
was more like a three-week period of rain in November after which there was no crispness in the air, only cold. And Rome is not known for its display of fall colors. But something about living without a good thing makes it that much sweeter when it comes back to you; and let’s just say, these days, I’m a pretty happy camper.

The fall harvest — for as much as it provokes my allergies — also gives us a great opportunity to reflect upon and to invite the providence of God. For all the efforts of our farmers in planting and nurturing the crops, these days of harvest remind us that we are simply not the master of our fate. So much relies upon things that are simply out of our control. In the end, we learn to count the blessings as they come, to rejoice
in abundance, and to give thanks even in the moments when we encounter sparsity.

In our second reading for this weekend, we hear a similar idea from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. He says: “Brothers and sisters, I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

Such is our calling as well — to learn as disciples how to welcome seasons of abundance and how to endure seasons of need. Such a task requires us to be truly humble, to recognize God as the author of our lives, and to embrace His will for us as good. No doubt, there will be times when we invite the providence of God, and we encounter a plentiful harvest. But there will also be times when God’s providence sends us perhaps less
than we desired; this does not mean that God has stopped providing! Rather, in these times, we are called to learn, as St. Paul did, how to
live humbly, and to endure all through Christ who strengthens us. We embrace God’s will for us, here and now, because it is good, and He knows best what we need and when we need it.

St. Paul’s words become even more powerful when we realize that he wrote these words from prison—so poetic words written during a moment of great consolation they are not! St. Paul suffered much in his life for the sake of spreading the Gospel. But his life reminds us that when we truly rely upon God for everything, great things are possible, even in spite of the trials. There will be moments of consolation and moments of desolation in the spiritual life, but thanks be to God, when the winter of our life is upon us, He brings us through all of these seasons to eternal communion with Him.

Fall is a beautiful time to reflect upon God’s providence, and to invite it deeper into your life. Pray especially to know His providence in the difficult moments. Count your blessings as they come, not passing any opportunity to thank God for the small things, even when we were hoping for the bigger things. I pray that this harvest meets you with plenty, but even if you’re disappointed with this season’s graces, sometimes it’s comfort just to know that it’s in the nature of things to change. God alone is unchanging, and His goodness to us, in the end, is all we need.

Keep spreading joy!
Fr. Friedel

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