For All the Saints . . .

The Canon Rector’s Message:

Note: If you are reading this Sunday, please note that we will be having a slight departure from the standard lectionary fare.  We will be using the readings for All Saints’ Day instead.  Those readings should be listed correctly in the newsletter.

Now, the rest of us may note that this Sunday is being observed as All Saints’ Sunday. The observation of All Saints’ on Sunday hearkens back to an ancient liturgical tradition. In that tradition if it happened that a Sunday fell within the week following a really major feast day, the commemoration of that feast day took place on the Sunday. 

In high falutin’ and fancy liturgical terms the readings of the feast day could be translated to the Sunday within the Octave of the feast. That was because the ancient world reckoned time differently from modern times. A major feast was seen as a mini-season in the calendar. The really big feasts were celebrated for the week. But as the ancient Romans counted day one as a part of the feast, eight days were counted, and so where we would say, “it falls within the week following All Saints’ Day,” they would say, “it is within the Octave of All Saints’”.  So, to mark the festival, at the very least the collect for the feast day would be included. But for a major festival such as All Saints’ it was customary to also use the readings for the feast—called “translating” the readings from the feast. Complicated rules of Liturgical Precedence deal with all of this.

But the main thing for us is that the celebration of All Saints should be an important occasion. It reminds us of God’s triumph over the human condition, and the way in which God has used very real human beings to do His work in the world.  Some of them were famous.  But others were Saints in a quieter and less spectacular way. But we are reminded that God can indeed work through us as he worked through them.  So, the Saints we remember on All Saints are the holy men and women whom we have known, who gave their time and their talent for the spread of the kingdom of God. They may have been wonderful examples for us, and may have been instrumental in bringing us to know the love of God in Jesus Christ.

We are celebrating the feast of All Souls’ Day this year within the Octave of All Souls, on Monday, November 5th. That remains an important day, a day in which we gather to remember before Almighty God those who were near and dear to us. It is more than a way of dealing with our grief at their loss, but it is a celebration of their lives. It is also a celebration of the communion of Saints—as we assert in the Creed—that by the power of the Holy Spirit, God knits us together with those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.

Our observation within the Octave of All Souls will be on Monday, November 5th at 7 PM, and as in years past, if you wish to give me names to specifically remember, I shall gladly and prayerfully remember them as we gather together to celebrate the triumph of God and God’s grace. 


Canon Greg+ 


About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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