While the close of October is typically known for Halloween, the last day of October was formerly a liturgical feast day known as All Hallows’ Eve. Today's tradition of costumes and candy stems from a much earlier practice of dressing up as saints and demons to act out the battle between good and evil. While All Hallow's Eve is no longer celebrated in most churches, we can still remember and prepare our hearts to remember those who have gone before us.
In the Anglican tradition, All Hallows' Eve is followed by All Saints’ Day on November 1st. Even though many saints of the church are remembered throughout the calendar year, All Saints’ Day provides a dedicated day to call to memory those saints who, through their profound faith and sacrificial acts, have led the way before us. We honor the example of their lives and deaths and rejoice in our continued communion with them through membership and participation in the body of Christ.
Pope John Paul II said, "We celebrate today the solemnity of All Saints. This invites us to turn our gaze to the immense multitude of those who have already reached the blessed land, and points us on the path that will lead us to that destination." The examples of the saints and martyrs of the Church put flesh on the teachings of scripture and provide countless examples of both holy living and holy dying.
All Souls’ Day is observed on November 2, the day following All Saints’ Day. While All Saints’ Day focuses on those saints whose work and witness affected the history of the larger church, All Souls’ Day is dedicated to the quiet and obscure. It is a day dedicated to remembering those everyday saints whose faithful, ordinary lives have built up our own lives and local churches. Although there is no formal service, many choose to visit or decorate the gravesites of the “ordinary saints” in their families and communities.
Let's pray that we might become "ordinary saints," people who's lives are spent serving others and pointing them toward Christ. May we be remembered not for our faults which are many, nor for our possessions which are few, but for how well we loved our Savior and served him with all our hearts.
This season is an excellent time to learn about a saint, to study the written prayers of saints from church history, and to specifically thank God for those who were instrumental in leading you and others into a profession of faith. Most importantly, let us witness to our eternal hope as we pray, "Therefore with Angels, and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee,O Lord most High. Amen."