In wrapping up our Hallowtide series, in this Part II, we want to share with you a little bit about our All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, which we always try to acknowledge in some way in keeping with our Catholic faith. If you missed Part I, with a fun-filled peek into our Halloween/(All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints’ Eve), you’ll want to visit that HERE. We think you’ll enjoy it.
We really kept All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day simple this year. But sometimes, for us, simple is the most enjoyable kind.
On All Saints’ Day we honor all the saints and martyrs, both known and unknown. We especially honor the blessed who have not been canonized, and who have no special feast day. This day (Nov. 1) is also a holy day of obligation for us, so we attend Mass, and often try to visit a cemetery.
The last day of Hallowtide, referred to as All Souls’ Day, is a day in which we commemorate the souls of all faithful Christians. We especially remember those we have loved and lost, and pray for their souls. We tend to enjoy making Soul Cakes on this day, in accordance with tradition.
So this year, we took a drive one of the late afternoons, to a large cemetery in town. During the drive on the way there, we reviewed again the history of these days, and what we are to reflect on during them. When we got there, we filed out of the van to venture around for awhile. I enjoyed taking photos, of the details surrounding us, and the somewhat-mysterious but obvious significance of it all.
One thing we all noticed right away, was the evidence everywhere, that there were many people laid to rest there, who had loved ones who have not forgotten about them. We could tell that many of the grave stones had even been visited quite recently. This is likely due to the 3 days which we were in the midst of, when many loved ones who have passed, are remembered by those they left behind.
Such as the resting place of this deceased one. Notice the fresh flowers, and the Happy Halloween pumpkin. I loved the bench at this site, that really spoke volumes to me. Someone really planned on visiting their loved one’s grave site, often. It made me feel sad, that I am not nearby my mother’s grave site. I know I would spend time there now and then.
This girl was so young. Just look at the flowers! Look at the multitude of stone sculptures and decorative paraphernalia. She was certainly very loved, still is, and in no way is forgotten.
Everywhere we looked, there were such personal items. And all the while, these tokens of love said so very much to us. They told us all, about how much these people were loved, and how much their death was such a loss to someone. Maybe to many. To those who knew and loved them.
I personally was moved too, to think how much these tokens must mean, to be brought there, and placed like they were. Each and every item left, must have such a story behind them. I was really quite amazed to think how, the amount of love that brought them to leave such things with the loved ones that they lost, was greater than their fear of these things being taken. It restored some of my hope in the human spirit, to see so many items, some obviously having been there a long time, left so undisturbed.
Some of the little things just plain broke my heart, like the baseball on top of the gravestone of this little boy’s site.
This one made me chuckle a little. I guess this man’s job meant a whole lot to him. Or, maybe it’s significant as a piece that connects someone left behind, to the one who has passed. Perhaps a long time co-worker.
The kids were really so interested and intrigued. This particular stone had a feature I had never seen before.
A case within the stone to display meaningful momentos. It had a door on the back, that locked. We found that so interesting. On a humorous note, we knew one thing for sure about the the life of the person that rested here. They loved gambling!! I didn’t take a photo, but the scene etched below this keepsake case on this stone, was actually Foxwoods Casino! lol. Do you see those circles at the top of the stone? Believe it or not, those are casino tokens, embedded into the stone. lol.
The artwork on so many stones, that told us something about that person, was often so beautifully done.
Like this one. What a beautiful scene. How symbolic, to see the empty chair there on the shore, facing the source of light.
We really walked around for a very long time. It was fascinating, really. The pieces of stories everywhere. Like always, when I reflect on the lost earthly life of anyone, I wondered about each one of these. Did they have faith? Did they have a relationship with God? Did they embrace a realization that Jesus Christ was sent into this world, to die on a cross for them, and to give them eternal Salvation?
Where were their souls? We prayed for them all. One by one, and collectively.
We walked around until near dark, because no one really wanted to leave. We wandered until it really got too cold, and our hands were frozen. It was a simple thing to do, but the emotions it stirred was surprising. So many lives. So many questions.
Our seasonal Liturgical table holds the prayer cards of some of our own loved and lost ones.
We added the names of those who we have known that passed away in the last year, and who’s souls we must remember, and pray for.
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.”
On the Sunday nearest All Soul’s Day, our church is filled with lit candles….one representing the life of each person in our parish who passed away that year. Our old dear friend, (Mr.) Bill, did not have any family living near by, except for his daughter who lives in New York, but comes down often. His daughter was not at this Mass however, so we took his candle home with us, and let his daughter know we have it for her.
Also on that Sunday, our pastor gave such a profound sermon. Honestly, he is so gifted with giving sermons, that you get lost in the depths of what he is telling you. You tend to forget where you even are, physically, until his sermon comes full circle, with such a powerful point, as it always does. I wish I could have taped this particular sermon, for you all to hear. My explanation will never do it justice. But on the one hand, he was saying how many religions talk about how us Catholics shouldn’t pray to the saints, asking them to pray for us, or for special circumstances. That we should only pray to God. He went on to say how, we often ask ‘each other’ to pray for us or our loved one, so why would we not ask for the help of those who are right there, in Christ’s presence? Those who are closest to Him?
He also talked about the saints, and how one would ‘think’ saints were so near-perfect….dedicating their lives to God and rarely doing wrong. But he whipped out a laundry list of saint’s names, and made points about each of them off the top of his head, that were indeed startling facts to some of us. Saint Monica, for instance, had a significant drinking problem. St. Paul used to persecute Christians. Thomas Aquinas was obese. St. Francis of Assisi, was believed to be completely off his rocker. So much so, that he was almost thrown out of his own order! Fr. Ken went on and on with the imperfections of well-known saints. In the end, I think many of us sitting there realized, that WE actually have a fighting chance at becoming saints ourselves! lol It helped us realize that we are all sinners indeed, just as the saints were. We were all made in Christ’s image, but certainly human, and all called to never stop pursuing a life which walks with Christ. With each day of our life, we must find ways to grow a closer, more intimate and meaningful relationship with Him.
As we reflect on and pray for the souls of the saints in Heaven, the souls awaiting Salvation in Purgatory, as well as the ones still living here on earth, let us not forget our own!! May we nurture our own souls, sustaining them with that which gives us life, so that one day we too will be in Christ’s presence for all of eternity. I think that’s what we all really want, in the end.
Because whether we think we’re called to be a saint or not, we all are.