This weekend brings a very important triduuma set of 3 services of liturgical holidays called Allhallowtide. It is composed of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and the Commemoration of all Faithful Departed (also known as All Souls). It is a solemn time in which the church invites us to pause and think deeply about life and death, both our own, and of those whom we have lost.
Most of us do not like to consider death. Our culture seems determined to keep us distracted and convinced that we will live forever, and we value youth and beauty to a fault. Even our funeral traditions, where we embalm and apply makeup to make the person look like they did when they were alive, help us to deny that death is an inevitable part of living. Our first reaction to death is always a defensive one: we mock it, and convince ourselves it cannot hurt us. I believe this reaction to death is what plays itself out in our Halloween traditions here in the United States. Yes, these traditions have many origins from centuries past, including Samhain and Mexico’s Day of the Dead, but they have all come together in our modern culture as a fun-filled evening where we dress up as “scary” things, and eat lots of candy. We celebrate, in a way, our ability to taunt and avoid death.
Yet death is unavoidable, and soon a crack in the facade of denial appears. Perhaps it is when we experience the loss of someone we love, or we encounter a health issue of our own that forces us to consider what we had hoped to avoid. I believe that at this point we often begin to consider the life and legacy we want to leave behind. How do we want others to remember us? Perhaps we begin to look for positive examples on which to model our lives. The church moves from All Hallow’s Eve to All Saints Day, the celebration and remembrance of the canonical saints in our tradition to which our church owes a great deal. These saints provide examples of a godly life that we would do well to imitate. It is in part thanks to their witness that we have our hope through Jesus Christ that this life is not the end, but that after our death we have eternal life.
Finally, after taunting death, and considering our own life and legacy, we must also admit that when we lose someone we love, it pains us deeply. Avoidance in this matter will only result in the lack of healing and the frustration of the grief process. When someone we love dies, it leaves an emptiness in our hearts that cannot be undone; that is what it means to love. Life will never be the same again without that person. It is at the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed (All Souls) that the church comes together to grieve those who have gone before, and whom we miss dearly. It is a safe space to feel sad, to cry, to pray, and to be grateful for the time that we are given here on this earth. All Souls is the opposite of Halloween: no longer deceiving ourselves in our ability to taunt and avoid death, here we try and accept death, honor those who are not here, and consider our mortality.
St. Mark’s participates in this holy season with three events:
- October 28 6pm – Trunk or Treat. Bring your kids in costume to collect candy from the trunks of cars at the church parking lot
- November 1 – All Saints Sunday. We gather and celebrate the Saints who have led faithful live and left positive examples for us today. We will baptize four new people into the faith on Sunday morning at 10am.
- November 2 7pm – All Souls’ Requiem. A Requiem Mass, high and solemn. Come to grieve and remember loved ones in a chant and incense filled service. The Requiem is performed by the St. Mark’s Choir.
You are welcome to join us on your journey of faith, life, and death at St. Mark’s.
“O Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who by a voice from heaven didst proclaim, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Multiply, we beseech thee, to those who rest in Jesus the manifold blessings of thy love, that the good work which thou didst begin in them may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ. And of thy mercy, O heavenly Father, grant that we, who now serve thee on earth, may at last, together with them, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; for the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP 486)