Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day

Today, dear friends, is all saints day.

It is interesting that in our secular culture Halloween, All Hallows eve, is still celebrated, but All Saints Day has lost its meaning. Kids don't even know in most instances the history of the very day that they celebrate because their parents don't teach them and parents don't teach them because most parents don't know themselves.

Halloween has become a commercial holiday with the sale of costumes and candy and party regalia.

In our Universalist tradition, I would think that All Saints Day has special meaning because in the Universalist tradition everybody goes to heaven and all are Saints. Perhaps it is this belief that lead to the end of the holiday for if all are saved, then none are special, and if none are special what's the big deal?

At any rate, having been raised Roman Catholic, I miss the numinous world which my Catholic faith gave me with all the Saints and the practices and symbols. The stark world of the Protestants is dead by contrast.

I would love to see Unitarian Universalism bring back some of the mystery and awe of the world we inhabit.

I would love to see UUs celebrate All Saints Day as a day of remembering all the people we have known and loved who have made the world what it is today and upon whose shoulders we stand.

Who are the people you admire and look up to who have passed on that you would nominate for sainthood?


  1. Agreed, David. Whether we call it All Saints Day, or All Souls Day, the celebration that you describe can be, I believe, a very important part of our "church year." In fact, I believe I'm noticing an increase in that celebration in our congregations, with people being asked to bring photos or other memorabilia to a service in honor of those very people you described above. With you, I also hope to see it continue to grow.

  2. Thanks for your comment and I am so happy to read that there are celebrations in other UU congregations.

    In the Catholic tradition, All Saints Day celebrates those souls who have achieved the beatific vision of heaven and All Souls Day, the day after All Saints Day is the day that we pray for those souls in purgatory who haven't made it to heaven yet but need more purification before they make the final ascent.

    While this is superstitious, it does make sense to me because I have known people who died who were not at peace and needed to do some work before they were at one with the universe.

    While there is no tradition in Unitarian Universalism where we pray for the souls of those who have gone before us, I think it makes sense intuitively. There are many people I pray for, who I think need it, so that they may attain a place of well being in the spiritual world if there such a place.

    I realize that this thinking may make many people uncomfortable and I apologize if it does so, but my main point is that historically there is a difference in the Catholic world between All Saints Day and All Souls Day and as a UU convert from RC I celebrate both.

    All the best,

    David Markham