Friday, November 1, 2013

The Feast of All Saints

Today is the Feast of All Saints. Traditionally, this day celebrates the saints who have gone on before us. Traditionalists would only celebrate the lives of the truly beatified and the lives of those martyred for the faith.  Many modern churches have expanded this feast day to become a day when we remember our dead.

Could we approach this day differently?  Could we use this day to remind us of the saints we are called to become?

Certainly we can begin with the lives of our lost loved ones.  What aspects should we invite into our lives?  From my mother-in-law, Carolyn Abbott, I would like to replicate her fierce love of and loyalty to her family members.  My grandfather Roof never gave away money to individual beggars, but he'd invite tramps to sit at the picnic table while he cooked them a fried egg sandwich; I'd like to emulate that hospitality.  My grandmother Roof began every day in devotional time; I'd be a more well-adjusted human if I followed her example.  My grandfather Berkey knew how to put everyone at ease with his charming graciousness; that kind of hospitality, too, I'd like to see more of in my actions.  My grandmother Berkey was always willing to put on a puppet show or a play; I'd like to meet people where they're living, the way that she did.
Here are some other ways to celebrate the Feast of All Saints:

--Start with the lectionary readings for today:

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Psalm 149 (1)

Ephesians 1:11-23

Luke 6:20-31

--You could then light a candle as you remember the faithful in your life who have nourished you. You could expand your thoughts to those who you didn't know who nonetheless have bolstered your faith.

--Write your living older family members a note or a card. Some day, you'll remember them on this feast day. Write them a note of appreciation now, while they are alive to appreciate your gratitude.

--Say a prayer of thanks for the saints who have gone before.

--Be inspired by the variety of ways that Latino cultures celebrate the Day of the Dead. This year I'm inspired by the altars that people create. Create an altar of your own. It could be an installation type project or it could be part of a bookshelf. Gather objects that mean something to you. Decorate the space with fabric or tissue paper or festive ribbons.  Let your altar remind you of the saint you hope to become.

----Make a picnic and take it to a graveyard, another inspiration from Day of the Dead activities. Look at the tombstones. Make up stories about the dead.

--Or don't make up stories. Today is a good day to remember your family and start writing them down. You won't remember them forever. And there will be younger generations who will be starving for those stories. If you write them in a blog, hopefully, they'll be there forever.

--Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance, so today is a great day to make something with the herb. How about a chicken, roasted with rosemary, lemon, and garlic? Vegetarians can make a tasty bean soup with the same trio of rosemary, lemon, and garlic--add several cans of beans (whirled up in the blender, if you prefer a thicker soup) to your pot of rosemary, lemon, and garlic, and you've got an easy delicious soup. Throw in some steamed carrot pieces for an even more nutritious soup.

--Plant some flowers. In many parts of the United States, now would be a great time to plant bulbs. Then in the spring, you'll have an additional treat.

Here's a prayer I wrote for today:

Comforter God, we give thanks for all the saints who have gone before us. Give us the wisdom, courage, and faith to follow in their footsteps. And when the time comes that our earthly light will be extinguished, allow us to rest easy in the sure knowledge that we will be welcomed into the company of all the saints.

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