Last Thursday evening (31st October) children, with a responsible adult, roamed the streets of the Estate where we live. It was Halloween. Friday the First of November was All Saints’ Day.
This is a festival that commemorates the witness of the saints and martyrs (known and unknown) of the Christian Church. Incidentally, ‘martyr’ actually means ‘witness’. The feast of All Saints dates to the ninth century in Rome and to the fifth century elsewhere.
In England it was known as “All Hallows” – thus, the day before (the 31st October) was termed “All Hallow’s Eve”or HALLOWEEN, which means “a holy or hallowed evening.” Nowadays we tend to leave Halloween to the imaginations of commercial interests and children. Most of the people who enthusiastically join in the Halloween fun and games have no idea of the much richer and joy infusing day which follows: ALL SAINTS’ DAY.
The Church gives greater emphasis to ALL SAINTS DAY because it calls us to remember those who gave their lives for Christ and His Gospel- martyrs, and those who enriched our faith- saints. In many countries it is a public holiday, to allow folk to visit and tend to the graves of loved ones. Protestant tradition claims all believers as saints.
ALL SAINTS DAY informs us that death is not the end of us, that those who died before us still receive life from God, as we receive our life from God. Therefore, in God, we are never totally separated from those who predeceased us, what the Apostles’ Creed calls, ‘the communion of saints’.
ALL SAINTS DAY reminds us that we, too, are saints, holy children of God who are to witness our faith in word and deed. This is the predominant New Testament use of the word ‘martyr’. We are to be “lights” for Jesus, the Light of the World.
Saints, therefore, also include people we remember because they played a particular role in strengthening our faith. It may well be that everybody turns out to be a saint in some way or other for somebody or other. Who are some of your saints? To whom may you be a saint? Hallowed Blessings!!
Louis van Laar