Collect for All Saints:
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in
one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body
of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy
blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may
come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared
for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy
Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In this post, we’ve gathered together some Anglican links and quotations for you about All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. We highly recommend that you read Full Homely Divinity’s article on All Hallows and Day of the Dead. The whole post (which includes background on Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls) is well worth your time, but here are a few highlights.
On Remembering the Dead:
“The last night of October and the first days of November are the days set aside for remembering the dead, and contemplating our own deaths. There can be little doubt that our Christian observances owe much to pre-Christian customs. Witches and ghosts, unseen demons and the souls of the dead wandering in the dark were very real to ancient people, and this should not surprise us. Even if it is nothing more than the fear of the unknown, fear of the dark is a common experience today, just as it was in more “primitive” times. The antidote to darkness is light and the rituals of the ancients at this time of year involved fire. In the age of wall switches that produce instant light in our homes and the glare of halogen street lamps that prevent our cities and towns from ever being completely in the dark (except during a power outage!), we may need to step back for a bit of perspective before we too quickly dismiss the quaint and ill-informed customs of the ancients as pagan nonsense. Indeed, as the days grow shorter and the hours of natural light are fewer, we would do well to reflect on the importance of light, literally and figuratively, in our lives. To shed light on a problem is to move towards a solution. To come out of the darkness into the light is to overcome fear and ignorance.
Even if we are skeptical about witches and demons, we still have to deal with the reality of death–our own, as well as the death of ancestors, family, and friends (and perhaps some enemies, too) who have gone before us. These days are days to bring death and the dead into the light: to acknowledge loss and move beyond it; to mourn, but not to despair; to regret what needs to be regretted, but even more to celebrate what needs to be celebrated; to remember the past and have hope for the future; to see life as a gift and death as a new beginning; to pray for the departed and to ask for the prayers of the saints, remembering that we are all bound together by baptism into the communion of saints, in this life as well as in the life to come” (Full Homely Divinity).
On Ideas for Celebrating Halloween:
“In our opinion, the best costumes for trick-or-treating are ones that evoke the world of spirits and the dead. Children (and adults) should learn that death is simply a part of life and that, for Christians, the goal is to come in out of the darkness into the light where God himself will warm us and feed us for ever. When receiving trick-or-treaters, and especially if we have parties involving friends and their children who are not part of the Church, we have an opportunity to make a dramatic and meaningful witness about this. In a society that has become fearful of terror and of random violence, we can make a very different kind of statement. Our homes should be bright and welcoming, not dark and scary, when trick-or-treaters and party guests arrive, and the hosts should be happy and friendly, not threatening. If the hosts are costumed, they should appear as saints, and the treats they offer should include some that tell about Hallowe’en as a Christian celebration” (Full Homely Divinity).
Our priest Fr. Wayne McNamara on All Saints Day:
“It is good to remember that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, something that began a long time ago with Adam and Eve and continues to this day. We have a rich and godly heritage, a noble army of saints, men, women, and children, that lived faithful and at times extraordinary lives. It would behoove us to acquaint ourselves with those to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. It is much easier to see the powerful hand of God in history through the lives of His saints.
Along with our remembrances of them often comes an growing sober sense of the importance of our own lives. What we have received from them we must be faithful to preserve. We too must be faithful to advance the cause of Christ and the Gospel in the place where we have been planted, with the people we know, with the means and opportunities God has given us.
God bless us all as we follow in their footsteps and build for a future that is not our own.”
(Additionally, here is Fr. Wayne’s post Celebrating Halloween, if you grew up only going to “Harvest Parties” and don’t know what you think about the day.)
And, here are some interesting thoughts on the Communion of Saints from C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright:
C.S. Lewis: “The consoling thing is that while Christendom is divided about the rationality, and even the lawfulness, of praying to the saints, we are all agreed about praying with them. “With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” Will you believe it? It is only quite recently I made that quotation a part of my private prayers–I festoon it round “hallowed be Thy name.” This, by the way, illustrates what I was saying last week about the uses of ready-made forms. They remind one. And I have found this quotation a great enrichment. One always accepted this with theoretically. But it is quite different when one brings it into consciousness at an appropriate moment and wills the association of one’s own little twitter with the voice of the great saints and (we hope) of our own dear dead. They may drown some of its uglier qualities and set off any tiny value it has.
You may say that the distinction between the communion of the saints as I find it in that act and full-fledged prayer to saints is not, after all, very great. All the better if so. I sometimes have a bright dream of re-union engulfing us unawares, like a great wave from behind our backs, perhaps at the very moment when our official representatives are still pronouncing it impossible. Discussions usually separate us; actions sometimes unite us.”
N.T. Wright: “Since both the departed saints and we ourselves are in Christ, we share with them in the ‘communion of saints.’ They are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we celebrate the Eucharist they are there with us, along with the angels and archangels. Why then should we not pray for and with them? The reason the Reformers and their successors did their best to outlaw praying for the dead was because that had been so bound up with the notion of purgatory and the need to get people out of it as soon as possible. Once we rule out purgatory, I see no reason why we should not pray for and with the dead and every reason why we should – not that they will get out of purgatory but that they will be refreshed and filled with God’s joy and peace. Love passes into prayer; we still love them; why not hold them, in that love, before God?”