All Saints’ Day

In the Western Church, today is All Saints’ Day, a day to remember and give thanks for all the faithful departed, ancient and modern, famous and unknown. It is a powerful reminder of God’s work in history.

All Saints’ Day is a wonderful example of the way the Christian calendar can help keep one grounded in the historical nature of the Faith. Before I began observing the Year, today’s most interesting tidbit might well have been the sugar high I recieved from eating leftover Halloween candy. Instead, I’ll be at Christ Church Catherdral tonight celebrating this important feast.

Here are some appropriate words for the occasion: the first is from the Apocrypha, the second from a devotional recently read.

Let us now praise famous men,
and our fathers in their generations.
The LORD apportioned to them great glory,
his majesty from the beginning.
There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
and were men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding,
and proclaiming prophecies;
leaders of the people in their deliberations
and in understanding of learning for the people,
wise in their words of instruction;
those who composed musical tunes,
and set forth verses in writing;
rich men furnished with resources,
living peaceably in their habitations —
all these were honored in their generations,
and were the glory of their times.

There are some of them who have left a name,
so that men declare their praise.
And there are some who have no memorial,
who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born,
and so have their children after them.

But these were men of mercy,
whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.
Their posterity will continue for ever,
and their glory will not be blotted out.
Their bodies were buried in peace,
and their name lives to all generations.

-Ecclesiasticus 44:1-10,13-14

“The feast of All Saints does not honor a company of immortals, far removed from the realm of ordinary human existence. The saints were not super-human beings but those who realized the vocation for which all human beings were created and to which we are ultimately called. No one is called to be another St. Francis or St. Teresa. But there is a path to holiness that lies within our individual circumstances, that engages our talents and temperaments, that contends with our own strengths and weaknesses, that responds to the needs of our own neightbors and our particular moment in history. The feast of All Saints strengthens and encourages us to create that path by walking it.”

-Robert Ellsbery
All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time (Crossroad Press, 2001)

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