Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All Saints and All Souls

The word “Halloween” is a contraction of the phrase, “All Hallows Eve.” All Hallows Eve is the name given to the night before All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day is also known as “All Hallows” or “Hallowmas.” This information may make the connection between All Saints’ Day and Halloween a bit more obvious.

In the early Church identifying, remembering and celebrating people who were great examples of Christian faith was commonly practiced. Each saint was given their own day on which to be remembered. Eventually, at around 365 I suppose, they ran out of individual days for each saint. Actually, the number was much larger because not every community celebrated every saint, just the ones that carried some significance for that community. The Church created All Saints’ Day to have a feast for the saints that were not remembered during the year.

All Saints’ became a time to remember all the saints, those individuals who have been identified by the Church as saints, as great examples of Christian faith. All Souls Day, November 2 became the time to remember the not so famous people who have died, usually people known to us or related to us.

I like the fact that Paul calls the followers of Jesus saints. This is how he greets the people of Corinth: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

Today it seems that All Saints and All Souls days are barely noticed over-shadowed as they are by Halloween. Furthermore, tomorrow you will notice that the Halloween decorations will be gone and Christmas decorations will have already begun to replace them. Yet our ministry of proclaiming the Christian faith will continue and the Church may never set aside a day to remember any one of us, but Saint Paul says that each one of us are saints.

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