Friday, October 30, 2009

All Saints

On Sunday, the church observes All Saints Day (also known as All Souls or All Hallows) Day. At All Saints, the church remembers all those who have gone before us in faith, and especially those who have died in the preceding year.

The word Hallowe'en is a contraction of All Hallows Evening, the night before All Saints Day. It was an Irish and Scots custom to place a candle in their western (sun-setting) window on the eve of All Hallows' to honor the departed. There has also been a folk belief that the souls of those who have died continue to roam the earth until All Saints Day, and from this comes the association of Halloween with ghost, witches, ghouls, gobblins, monsters.

Then on All Saints Day, we remember the new life that Christ has promised. At St. Matthews in Jersey City we will remember our loved ones who have died, writing their names in a memorial book. We will light yahrzeit candles and bring them one by one to the high altar, so that the memory of the blessed dead is a living presence among us. As we gather to share God's body and blood in bread and wine, we share in communion with all the saints. In the flickering flames of the memorial candles, we might see them gathered with us around God's holy table.

For all the saints, Lord, we offer prayer.

For those who have cleared and tilled the ground where we now harvest, and have preceded us in death, especially those we remember before you now:
Marian, Irene, Dennis, and [those dear to you]. May we hold their memory close and their example dear, and may we continue to commune with them at your holy table, where heaven meets earth and our need.
Lord have mercy.

For those saints living among us, the faithful witnesses who support us and who bear our burdens, and even more for those saints unknown to us and unrecognized by us, that we may be made one in the body of Christ, who is reconciling all humanity.
Christ have mercy.

For those saints yet to come, that when our mortal journey comes to an end, we may die in peace, knowing that Christ's saving witness is alive in the world, and future generations will know the love of Christ made visible in the people of God, faithful, struggling, redeemed.
Lord have mercy.

May all your people be one, and may we, sharing in Christ's holiness, be welcome at the great feast, now and eternally, through Jesus Christ, the holy One. Amen.

 

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