Words from Wilma+ All Saints Day Nov. 1, 2019
Today is All Saints Day and tomorrow Nov 2, is All Souls Day. I am attaching an explanation of what these two days mean for us as Anglicans. The explanation comes from the book For All the Saints a publication of the Anglican Church of Canada.
All Saints 1 November
Today’s festival had its origins in the fourth century, when churches in the East began to celebrate “the feast of the martyrs of the whole world” on the Sunday after Pentecost.
Several Western churches adopted this festival and kept it on various dates in April or May, but in the early Middle Ages the church of Rome assigned it the much later date of November first and broadened the feast to include all the saints. Western Christendom has followed this custom ever since.
Saints are Christians who in various ways, often against great odds, showed an extraordinary love for Christ. The Holy Spirit acted in their lives so that they chose to bring aid to the needy, justice to the oppressed, hope to the sorrowful, and the divine word of forgiveness to sinners. For the sake of Christ, they were servants to the people of their day; and the service they rendered in the past makes them examples to the rest of the people of God throughout history.
The Church also believes that our life on earth has eternal consequences; and so, our remembrance of what the saints were is directed to what they are. It is the Church’s conviction — a conviction often expressed in the Anglican tradition — that the saints continue to be our partners and fellow servants before the face of God’s glory. We pray for our present needs, and the saints pray with us — not as if their prayers were better than our own, but because they are still bound to us in mutual service as members of the one body of Christ.
For this very reason, we may say of the Church’s saints what the Letter to the Hebrews says about the Old Testament saints — that they and their service shall not be perfect until all of God’s friends have answered the invitation of Christ and arrived at the banquet of glory. For that is the ministry of the saints in heaven as on earth: to help others become partners in the salvation of God.
This festival may be observed on the Sunday following 1 November, in addition to its observance on the fixed date.
All Souls 2 November
The Commemoration of All Faithful Departed — Memorial
On this day we call to mind all the faithful departed who are now with God in Christ Jesus. We especially remember all those who have touched our own lives, and the men and women of our own parish and community whose good works have sustained and enhanced the ongoing life of our Christian community.
The Church has kept this memorial of all the faithful departed since the eleventh century, when it also began to celebrate the feast of All Saints. The Church believed that the souls of departed saints were immediately taken into the presence and full glory of God, while all other departed souls still had to undergo some healing and growth before they could be strong enough to bear the radiance of God’s face. Out of this belief grew the medieval doctrine of purgatory, which taught that there was an intermediate state between death and glory, when souls were purged of the effects of those sins which still marred their wills and affections.
When the Church of England reformed its doctrine and worship in the sixteenth century, it rejected “the Romish doctrine concerning purgatory ... [as] a fond thing vainly imagined.” The Anglican tradition has not withdrawn that criticism, but over the centuries we have learned to believe what we have prayed in the Burial Office — that the good work which Almighty God began in the faithful departed may be perfected unto the day of Jesus Christ. For growth in perfection must be infinite because our perfection is communion with the infinite God. So, we magnify God’s power by confessing that the divine mercy continues to perfect the souls of the departed according to the measure of eternal life revealed in Jesus Christ.
Giving thanks for God’s Grace and you,
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