Halloween, All Saints’, All Souls’

It’s no great secret that many secular holidays and religious holidays appear right next to each other on the calendar. The culture wars have been around a lot longer than most people realize. The Church has done its best to obliterate the pagan roots of many holidays by instituting religious holidays close by. Thus, it comes as no real surprise that All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, falls on October 31st, while the Feast of All Saints’ falls on November 1st. Just to pile on a bit, next the church placed All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. It certainly makes for a crowded three days of festivities. The religious world often competes with secular influences.

While All Saints’ Day has been traditionally observed on the 1st of November, no matter which day it might fall during the week, the Church has deemed it to be of such importance that it should also be observed on the following Sunday if November 1st falls on a weekday. Our Book of Common Prayer makes the designation quite clear. So this year while All Saints’ falls on a Tuesday, we will observe our patronal feast on Sunday, November 6th.

We are also doing something new this year with the observance of All Souls’ Day. In most faith communities All Souls’ Day is known as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. All Souls Day … is a time when we particularly remember those who have died. The prayers appointed for that day remind us that we are joined with the Communion of Saints, that great group of Christians who have finished their earthly life and with who we share the hope of resurrection from the dead. — Bays & Hancock 2012, p. 128

For the past four years I have been serving on the Board of Serenity House here in Morristown. Serenity House is part of Friends of Hospice. The mission of Serenity House is to give people a place to die with care and dignity. We are inviting all the families who have had loved ones pass away at Serenity House for a special service, a Day of Remembrance. The Rev. Jason McIntosh, from First Methodist, and the Rev. Sam Schaus, from First Presbyterian, will co-officiate with me.

This special All Souls’ service is meant to be a time of prayer and remembrance. It is hoped that it will remind us of our connectedness to one another is so strong the death is not able to separate us forever. We pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.