All Souls Day

Though my grandma, Marlene, was a force to be reckoned with (and did many good deeds, most unheralded), she is not part of the canon of saints. She was not Mother Teresa, or Hilda of Bingen, or Bridget of Sweden.

It is for people like Marlene that the church gives us All Souls Day.

Today, the 2nd of November, is a day for remembering and honoring “all the faithful departed.”

I do not presume to assert that my grandma, saintly as she was, is worthy of being a canonized saint celebrated the world over throughout time. And I do assert that there are people who are worthy of being remembered throughout time, their stories celebrated the world over.

We approach church tradition with humility and reverence, we recognize the innate wisdom and the Holy-Spirit-gifting of those who have come before us. Personally, I prefer the image of sitting at their feet, rather than standing on their shoulders. We are, all of us, on level ground at the foot of the cross — where gathers the communion of saints, the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) — and as St. Paul the Apostle himself says, of sinners, I am the foremost (1 Timothy 1:15).

The only thing we have to boast in is our ignorance and sinfulness — let us not grab titles of wisdom and honor and innovation and freedom for ourselves. It reminds me of the parable of the one who takes a seat much higher than he ought, and is asked to move down the table when the really important people come.

Our relationship to the Communion of Saints and the Souls of all the Faithful Departed, is always one of bowed head and open heart, ready to receive instruction, reproof, revelation, direction, and we pray, grace.

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