All Saints, All Souls, You and Me
My mother died on All Souls Day, November 2. Everyone who loved her agreed that she willed herself to stay alive an extra day because dying on All Saints Day would seem presumptuous. If you had known my mom, you’d laugh at how accurate that seems.
Today, November 1, is All Saints Day and tomorrow is All Souls. The distinction seems muddy, doesn’t it? My understanding is that the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the former to honor good, forgiven Christians now in heaven, and the latter commemorates ones who are in purgatory and may be prayed to heaven by the faithful. Nowadays, we Episcopalians makes less of a distinction, with All Souls referring to all the faithful departed and All Saints recalling the heroic Christians in history. Or something like that.
The point is that you and I are part of a wonderful ongoing story, a pathway of amazing people who have left their faith imprint on our lives. When I sing “For All the Saints” this coming Sunday, I’ll give thanks for all those who rest from their labors, be they “saint” or “soul.” That blessed communion includes a diverse parade of individuals whose life force bears witness to love, hope and joy, from St. Francis to Harriett Tubman to my parents. And on to me.
When we saints gather in a few days, let us commit to carrying forward the Holy Spirit passion we’ve inherited from our forbearers in faith—those we will name and the cloud of witnesses just beyond our sight. Thank you, God, for planting us where we can grow in their memory.