Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints and All Souls Day: Remembering those we love who we see no longer

Today is All Saints Day when the church remembers its martyrs and those considered the holiest in our history (and there is room for debate about some of those we put on that calendar).

Tomorrow is Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, or "All Souls Day" when we remember all those who have died -- ordinary people -- especially those who have died who are still close to our hearts.

This year we are combining the two holy days into a single commemoration today at 12:15 pm. Instead of a sermon, we will read the names of all those who died in the parish in the last year, and also the names of people who were added to books in the church in the last few weeks. You are invited to join us, and if you have other names you would like us to read, please bring them and we will add them to the reading.

We are we doing this?

First, we need to draw together as a community to remember those who have left us. We needed to pray their names as a community, and pray for ourselves in our grief. We need to remember all those we love who we see no longer.

Today we need to pause and do something that is out of fashion: Lament. Our culture sometimes would rather speed on and forget, and that is a good reason to pause, remember, lament. We proclaim as Christians that there is new life, Resurrection, but that doesn't lessen our own sorrow. It helps, I think, to name it, and to name those names we miss.

So we will gather 12:15 pm and I hope you will join us. The clergy will take turns reading all of the names aloud, and people can kneel or sit in prayer. We will have our Eucharist, and then depart in silence, and we hope, a measure of peace.

Let me also remind you of another tradition, from Latin America, that we are observing at St. Paul's: the ofrenda. We will set up a table in the church for you to display small photos of people close to you who have died. We will keep the table up until the First Sunday of Advent.

Here is the Collect for the All the Faithful Departed:

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

No comments: