While I fondly recall wearing smart and ridiculous costumes, eating large amounts of candy without getting sick, dunking my face in water to capture apples with my teeth, and attending crazy parties on Halloween, this morning I am motivated by the more profound connection of Halloween to its succeeding days. Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve (October 31) maintains that saints are hallowed (“holy”) and is the vigil for All Saints’ Day. Without an All Saints’ Day, we would not have Halloween to celebrate the gift of the saints.
All Saints’ Day (November 1), which most congregations tend to celebrate in high solemn fashion on the Sunday after All Saints’ Day and even fuse with All Souls’ Day, recalls the biblical notion that a “saint” is anyone who is a follower of Jesus. (Yes, that means you and me!) This day calls attention to the array of sung or unsung heroes, who both live among us and have gone before us. One writer shares that “a saint is someone who has occupied a sacred space in our lives; most of us could probably come up with a list of such people who have touched our lives over the years.”
All Souls’ Day (November 2) marks a time to remember all who have died, whether we associate “saint” with them or not. The Episcopal Church calendar calls it both All Souls’ Day and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed; it was first included in our current Book of Common Prayer (1979). In Central America and elsewhere, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is reserved for families to honor their ancestors and embrace the connection between the living and the dead. “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Because of Christ’s victory, the barrier between the living and the dead has been trampled down.
The journey from All Hallows’ Eve to All Souls’ Day invites the church catholic (universal) to think about the fact that our lives and those of all persons both begin and end in the Creator. May we find blessings in these days and the gift of life – eternal life.
The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector