by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
“All Saints’ Day” – the day of the hallowed ones, the saints.
Here it is again, the scary decorations, the kids are out having fun trick-or-treating, and I get to stay home and manage “the bowl” – the candy handouts. I decided this year I wanted to try to ACTUALLY celebrate All Saints’ Day – some kind of declaration or decoration. In our church tradition we don’t have a Mass or even a prayer. Nothing on November 1st. I never have liked this free-church deficiency. Each year no celebration of All Saints Day bugs me because so much is put into celebrating the demons, devil or scary ancestors. It’s just unfair – and telling about our society. But the demons’ time is up.
The demons are not scary as much as scared. They know their day is done. They thrive off of chaos, fear, competition and compulsion. Demons are most like hyenas I think; nervously laughing, snapping, crushing – skittering about. They’d kill each other if they could get by with it.
I read the news today, O boy. The demons should be feasting. Tuesday November 2nd is election day and politicians are mud-slinging and avoiding content as usual. Nothing will change, just the names. The economy is at a snail’s pace to “recovery.” Venezuela started a “currency war,” the Economist states. China, the EU, USA – all attempting to control the markets and massage their bottom lines – everyone is attempting to create money without exchanging goods. There’s some chaos and fear for you demons to munch. Economics and Politics – the perfect demon treats!
Some would say All Saints’ Day is hopeless, a day of bygone days. The Halloween-hyena-frenzy won the day long ago. But I’ve read the other story, the Jesus story. Jesus won, Jesus wins. A judgment day is coming – yea, has already begun. That’s why the demons are in a panic. The demons are about to be cast into the abyss forever. Evil will be judged. Not just demonic evil but human evil. Justice will be served. The past will be corrected and restitution made to all those saints and martyrs who died for Jesus and his cause of love. A prayer for All Saints’ Day celebrates “known and unknown saints.” All Saints’ Day celebrates the no-account saints, the lowly unknowns… I have a church full of them.
The common saints of today are fighting oppressors in Kansas City’s inner city, reparenting at risk kids. Others are standing along side the innocent families in Juarez Mexico (Anapra). Others mow vacant lots in the inner city. Others hold babies and play with orphans in Haiti. Others preach the good news. Others scrub toilets. Some lead small groups. A few give money to the leaders in the persecuted underground church in the PRC (China). Another is on her way to Liberia to serve outcast suffering women with fistulas. Another shares her story with others who want out of the sex industry.
-wait a sec, I gotta get door for the trick-or-treaters (like ten times!)
Anyway, all us unknown saints are not wasting our efforts. We are stockpiling the building materials for Jesus’ kingdom for use when he returns. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) Our fearless job these days is to face the evils of the world and do what Jesus did. All our good counts and is saved up. The good you do will come back to you… “well done good and faithful servant. Enter in the joy of your Master.”
For these saints as well as the most famous, Perpetua, Jerome, all the others – tomorrow I will hang out a simple white cloth on the front of my house. Why?
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. – Revelations 6
A white robe for the waiting martyrs – that’s the idea behind the white cloth.
Also for All The Saints on their Day, a prayer:
How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord
which you give us for our eternal well-being
Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God
In the honour and noble victory of the martyrs.
The white-robed company follow you,
bright with their abundant faith;
They scorned the wicked words of those with this world’s power.
For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,
they were drained by cruel punishments.
They bore their holy witness to you
who were grounded deep within their hearts;
they were sustained by patience and constancy.
Endowed with your everlasting grace,
may we rejoice forever
with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.
O Christ, in your goodness,
grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.
Catholic Prayer, Unknown author, 10th century