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November 4, 2018: Celebrating All Saints & All Souls

by Father Jadon


This Sunday we gather for the great celebration(s) of All Saints and All Souls.  All Saints Day was once known as All Hallows Day.  We seldom use the word “hallow” any more, except when we pray “hallowed by thy name” in the traditional English version of the Lord’s Prayer, but the word means “holy,” and has roots in ancient Germanic languages.  As a great feast of the church, the celebration of All Hallows Day began the evening before, on Hallows Eve, from which comes our modern word “Halloween.” 

As I said at our weekday services this week, which we celebrated as “Hallows Eve” Masses to prepare us for this Sunday’s celebration of All Saints and All Souls, our culture’s celebration of Halloween is an all-too-brief time of sharing of experiences and resources that gives us a glimpse of the beloved community we are meant to build . . . a commonwealth that is too often obscured from view on the other 364 nights of the year.  Think about it. When else do we intentionally spend this kind of time together as a community?  When else do we do something as neighborhoods that’s this intergenerational?  This open to all?  This playful, witty, and intended purely for fun?  When else do our front doors swing open to so many strangers?  And when else are so many gifts given out—gifts often given by strangers, to strangers—just for the sake of delight?  It is on All Hallows Eve that, in many neighborhoods, lines of social division—segregated lines of race and class, for example—are often crossed.  What a holy thing indeed.

What if we really embraced the way our modern culture has come to regard Halloween as true preparation for our celebration of the saints and souls who have gone before?  If we took Halloween that seriously, I imagine we would find certain attitudes to embrace and others to set aside.  We might think carefully about the thresholds that divide us and/or commit ourselves to make them less divisive.  We might be inspired to have serious conversations about the afterlife, embracing the mystery and debunking the myths.  We might just relax and find ways to let down our hair, let go of the judgement that constrains us, delight in the ridiculous, and be inspired by sense of joy and wonder on display. As we gather to celebrate the holiness of the Saints and to remember the faithful departed, let us also remember not to take ourselves too seriously, for in doing so we might miss the whole point.

Last Published: November 1, 2018 1:50 PM
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