All Saint’s Day
By Rev. Bryon Reynolds
The Fall Harvest Season is one of my very favorite times of the year.
People gather together at many different event venues to buy and sell crafts, as well as consume the traditional pumpkin and apple treats. Pumpkin coffee, doughnuts, hot cider with caramel and candy apples are particularly wonderful on the palate at this time of year.
The air temperature cools at night and for just a short while yet, daytime temperatures are like that of Summer. We joke about running the air conditioning during the day and light our furnace, or home fires, at night.
Daylight begins to retreat on our timepieces, as the awesome colors of Autumn appear — seemingly all of the sudden. Our church bells play the Penn State Alma Mater at noon every Saturday — game day. Win or lose, we root for the Blue and White until the final whistle blows. I think I would have liked to play college ball, but my football glory days were concluded at the age of 15 when I began to attend college.
Now I watch the Big Ten Games on television, sometimes recording the games when I am away working my bivocational job. But I really love the game itself — football. It is something my grandfather and I used to enjoy together; watching college ball and occasionally attending a game — like the traditional Army and Navy Game, which was played in Philadelphia in those days.
Even now, it is an undeniable connection though he passed away many years ago. But those memories are as thick as molasses when the crisp air falls on my face and the crack of the pads raises up such a level of excitement. Although I miss him terribly, when I am ponderinga situation that I might have sought his counsel, I recall his words of wisdom as though he were speaking them to me in the present time; a living memory.
The purpose of the Pagan celebration of Samhain (pronounced sew-en) is to honor the ancestors in the Celtic tradition and to give thanks for the harvest prior to the onset ofthe winter months — very much a contrast of the life-death cycle.
The marriage between King Arthur and Gueniverre has been said to be the uniting of the Druid and Christian in Great Britain, as becoming one people that would repel the foreign invaders. For the Pagan, a celestial riff, or passage, was observable whereby the wisdom of the ancestors was especially accessible.
The Catholic Church adopted the practice of observance of Pagan holidays, in this case All Hallows Eve (Halloween), in order to become relevant to the culture of the day with the intention of coming together, rather than an alienation of a people. It allowed the Pagan and Christian to coexist.
There is a difference between nature based religions and those religions that worship the devil, although the Church-at-Large would not make such a distinction between such religions. But I think we live in such a day when we, the church-at-large, need tobe sensitive to these distinctions — even though we consider those who participate in such religions to be reprobate, or not Christians. How else will the love of God be presented to the community as positive?
It is our responsibility before Christ to sew the Word into the hearts of common ordinary folk, people like you and me, in order that Faith would blossom and flourish (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
But we have endured the days when the church has failed to preach the Word of God for many reasons, from church boards to the attempt of man to make God relevant for our present time in history; or story telling. People simply want to feel everything today and base their logic on those feelings.
All Hallows Eve was an attempt by the Catholic Church to be relevant within a culture and to keep a solemnity for the Saints — both known and unknown; very similar to the celebration of the honoring of the ancestors by the Druids.
This was acceptable to both Pagans and the Church-at-Large within the culture where people of different religions coexisted. What was not acceptable was the counter-Christ rebellion that inverted the traditional Latin Mass of the Holy Roman Catholic Church that became known as the black mass, performed by renegade Gnostic Priests around the 4th Century AD.
Highmasses are celebrated on Walpurgisnacht (April 30) , Halloween (October 31) and Yule (December 21). It is interesting to me at least, that this celestial riff, or passage, would seem as though time would become irrelevant for a moment. Our calendar has a similar passage where time becomes irrelevant for a moment between 11:59 local time on December 31 and 00:01 local time on January 1.
I have often thought that it would be an awesomely romantic time to perform a wedding ceremony in that moment with respect to the rules of the church. To the Pagan, it may seem to be romantic to be joined in marriage in the riff that proceeds from October 31 passing midnight and finding that relation to time sometime in the morning of November 1. Perhaps that is what Martin Luthur had in mind when he nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg — All Saints — Church on October 31, 1517 that sparked the Protestant Reformation.
In the day, the Protestant Reformers may have seemed to the authorities of the CatholicChurch a threat similar to that of the renegade Gnostic Priests that mocked the Mass. Both Catholics and Protestants are under the authority of the Chief Priest of the Order of Melchizedek who is King Jesus (Hebrews 6:20). It has been my experience that Catholic Priests and Protestant Clergy agree on the essentials of the faith, Apostle and Nicene Creeds, and have chosen to agree to disagree concerning that which may be divisive.
What a wonderful day it will be, when all of the children of God stand together in one accord, as the Saints both known and unknown, in celebration of the forgiveness we have received and the truth upon which we stand.
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the Saints according to the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27
Through it all Jesus continues to intercede on our behalf; even when we are unable toexpress crushing grief, or pain. He is with us amid our groaning sounds, interceding on our behalf and loving us with an everlasting love.
Happy All Saints Day!