November 12, 2018 | Articles | Priest in Charge by Padrecita Jeanne
From the Priest-in-Charge,
For All The Saints
On Thursday, November 1st, many Christian churches around the world will celebrate All Saints Day. (At St. James’, we will transfer this feast to October 31st to coincide with our normal mid-week Eucharist.) On the following Sunday, St. James’ will join a number of those same churches in observing All Saints Sunday, which is always an alternative to the normal readings for the Sunday after All Saints Day. Since its earliest years, the Church has venerated and remembered its martyrs and faithful departed during the liturgy. Many scholars believe that the first observance of a special feast to honor the great saints of the Church began in Ireland in the 5th century. The Irish chose November 1st, with the evening before, October 31st, called All Hallows Eve (to hallow being an Old English term meaning to reverence or to venerate). The name of the evening observance was later shortened to Halloween. By the 9th century the observance of All Saints Day had spread throughout Europe.
All Saints Day has traditionally been set aside to remember those persons whose virtuous and godly lives have shown forth God’s glory in special ways. The word for saint in the New Testament (hagios), however, is not confined to great saints, apostles or martyrs. The word hagios refers to all followers of Jesus, great and small. So by the 10th century another feast, All Faithful Departed (sometimes called All Souls Day) was instituted by the Church. We who live in the Southwest know this particular feast as El Día de los Muertos. Over the years the two feasts, All Saints and All Souls, have been informally merged, so that on All Saints Day, we remember all persons, those known to us in tradition, and those whose lives are linked with ours, who have been examples to us of how Christians ought to live.
On November 4th we will set our clocks back to Mountain Standard Time. As the days shorten, we will see an earlier dawn and an earlier twilight until late December, when we will gradually begin to enjoy more light. I encourage all of you to make a special effort to remember this year those faithful departed who have served as lights to you in your Christian faith. They may include an honored saint like the Blessed Virgin Mary; one of the Apostles such as Peter or Paul; a well-known martyr like Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Martin Luther King Jr; a saint from the Bible, such as Mary Magdalene; or one of the writers of the Gospels. They may include a famous Christian author, such as C. S. Lewis, or someone who has done great work among the poor, like Mother Teresa. Your person may also be a family member or close friend or a member of the clergy who showed you the light of Christ’s love while they were here on earth and who inspired you with their example. Fr. Frank mentioned his parents in the sermon he preached on October 14th. My parents were also lights to me, along with a lady in my parish in Beaumont who served as a surrogate grandmother when I was a teenager and who taught me how to trust God in prayer (when Aunt Dolly prayed, things happened!).
Whomever you chose as your saints of memory, give thanks for their influence in your life, for their love of the Lord, and their Christian example. Ask yourself how God used these persons to teach and inspire you, and in what ways you would like to imitate them. Ask yourself, as well, who is looking to you as an example of Christian living and how you might pass on the legacy of all the saints whom we celebrate in song and prayer this November.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia! (Hymn 287, vs. 4)