Today we celebrated All Saints Day.
It is a very old celebration, dated as early as the 600’s! This celebration is the commemoration of all the Martyrs that died for the Christian belief. It had been about 300 years since Rome had used the Christians for sport at the games. At that time in the church’s development, all those people that died in the belief were in heaven as a normal person or in heaven as a martyr. The “saints” were those who’d sacrificed the most for the cause. Sainthood then went through a transformation to include special powers after their death…A vision of the deceased person preceded a miracle somehow enabled by the deceased person. A vision of Mary appeared before a statue was noted to have tears of blood. There are stories of miraculous healings, elevation–floating on air, stigmata–the re-creation of the wounds of Christ inexplicably appearing on individuals. There are thousands of saints as documented officially by the Catholic Church.
The protestants, on the other hand, have developed a philosophy that all who die in the faith are Saints, and all who LIVE in the faith are Saints. On All Saints day, we remember those who have died in the faith and recommit to living in the faith with God’s help. It is a Holiday of Hope as are most of the Holidays. Christmas celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus and the hope of salvation He brings. Easter celebrates the Resurrection and the Redemption of Humanity giving us hope for Eternal Life. Hope is the belief in things to come, not wishful thinking.
Which brings me to my contemplation. Why do we celebrate All Hallows EVE? It was superstition that all the dead arose and visited the living on that day. There were also beliefs that the dieties granted the gift of prophesy on that day. And that’s not all! There were all kinds of rituals that were added and subtracted from the celebrations depending on where in the world you were, but they all centered on the malevolent dead, not the martyrs or those who died in the faith. Why would anyone glorify that?
Instead of celebrating the failed dead (What would you call it when you die and you don’t get dead enough that you can’t come back?) why not celebrate the Faith that grants salvation and eternal life? Oh…because not everyone believes that. Nobody believes in walking dead (except as a Television Show) or ghosts or goblins any more. But it’s a chance to go beat on someone’s door and get candy from them. Does it make sense? Does it have to? There are some of us who may change our practices from now on…But most won’t. It’s too established.
Happy All Saints Day.