With the month of November quickly approaching, we will pause our walk through The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy to take a quick look at some significant celebrations that are coming up. In particular, November sees Christians gathering to celebrate the solemnity of All Saints Day as well as the feast of All Souls Day.
All Saints Day is a particularly ancient celebration. It has some roots in different parts of the church as early as he 4th century, though it became a universal Holy Day beginning in 609 AD when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs. The Pantheon was a pagan temple whose name literally means, “all gods.” Pope Boniface IV saw an opportunity in which he could use the original name of this temple in order to communicate the truth of the Gospel. Therefore, the pagan temple honoring all the gods became the Christian Church honoring all the Saints who gave glory to the One God.
Today the Solemnity of All Saints is celebrated on November 1st throughout the world. It is a holy day of obligation. This means that we faithful are obliged to join together in worship of our Creator and Redeemer at Mass just as much as we are obliged to worship together on every Sunday. Like Sundays, to miss a holy day of obligation intentionally and without grave reason is a serious offense against God; if this should occur, we know that we are not to take communion again until we have sought to be reconciled with Him through the Sacrament of Confession.
On the Solemnity of All Saints, we, the Church on earth, follow the example of the saints. First, by joining together to worship, we take a concrete step to place God first both in our lives and, in particular, on this day. Second, by joining together in worship at Mass, we are joined by the saints and angels (who are always there present) in our worship as we proclaim with one voice: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.”
The Christian celebration of Halloween, which literally means “the evening before the [celebration of] the holy ones” (All-Hallows’-Eve), occurs the night before their feast. Just like Christmas Eve, the joy of All Saints is so great it spills over into the previous day.
This year we will begin our celebration of All Saints day on the 31st with a Solemn Mass at 6PM at St. Patrick. Children who dress as saints (including martyrs) or angels will participate in the procession at the beginning of Mass. Immediately following Mass there will be food, trunk-or-treat, and games for the kids. It will be an evening dedicated to faith, family, food, and fun.
I look forward to joining Catholics throughout Walla Walla as we give glory to God for His infinite goodness as manifested in the lives of His saints.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!