All Saints, All Souls days time to reflect
October 25, 2004
In the Christian world, All Saints Day is a universal feast honoring and remembering all Christian saints, known and unknown.
All Souls Day is set aside to remember family and friends – loved ones of whom we cherish memories.
The days are recognized one after another, All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.
“There has to be a place, a day like All Souls Day to remind us of where we came from,” said the Rev. Jerry Hanley. “Remind us we’re not alone.”
Hanley, a Catholic priest at St. Teresa of Avila Community Church, said the first mention of Saints Day was in 373 A.D. when Ephrem Syrus tells of a feast dedicated to the saints in his writings.
“The first saint mentioned is St. Chrysostom of Constantinople. However, it was not observed annually until the year 609 or 610, by the Roman Bishop Boniface IV,” Hanley said.
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He said people need to have heroes, each of whom can offer some hope.
“St. Francis was the patron saint of animals,” Hanley said. “And St. Teresa, whom our church is named after, was a Carmelite sister, whose religious order was dedicated to prayer. That’s all they did.
“And she was an enormous reformer. She reformed the convents to what they were supposed to be.
“She was a great reformer and leader of the church. And it was said she had a great sense of humor.”
A misconception Hanley would like to clear up about Catholics is that they do not worship statues.
“Yes, we have statues of saints in the church, but we do not worship them. We pray with them. We have them in the church as people would have photos in their wallet.
“We see them as a connection. We pray with them. For us, they are a sign of hope and greatness – and as an example of God’s life.”
All Souls Day is for families to go to Mass or the graves of their loved ones.
Hispanics hold a graveside celebration with food and stories called Day of the Dead.
“We honor and remember that day. Our background is very important to us. Our loved ones are in our veins – they are our genetic makeup,” Hanley.
“In the business of stuff, we forget to tell stories, and it’s a shame. There has to be a place, a day like this to remind us of where we came from and that we’re not alone.”
Hanley said graveside celebrations include storytelling and food and offer family members and opportunity to clean the gravesite.
“We’ve got a lot to learn from these people, that we belong to something bigger.”
St. Teresa’s will celebrate Monday with a potluck after the 12:15 p.m. Mass. It is the same day they celebrate a luncheon for seniors.
“It’s important for seniors to remember, too,” Hanley said. “It’s easy for them to feel alone, especially if they are alone.”
Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.