Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day

I really like this this sainty painting, titled The Adoration by Albrecht Dürer, depicting all of us here on earth gazing on Jesus crucified along with all the other souls that have already passed into eternity.

Celebrating the solemnity of All Saints and All Souls is something I remember from my childhood in the Episcopal church. I don't recall that we gave as much commemoration to the day as Catholics do, but it was a day given to remembering loved ones who had gone on to heaven. It struck a chord in me even as a child: I had three great-grandparents die within several years of one another, and the idea was comforting to me that they hadn't just drifted into some void.

Later on, of course, my family started attending a charistmatic evangelical Protestant denomination and such formal recollections of those who had died stopped. Somewhere on my spiritual journey, I was talking to the pastor's wife, fondly recalling All Saints and All Souls and how important it was to me as a child to think more deeply about life and death and how the thought of eternity is supposed to Christians; a time when we'll see Jesus face to face and be reunited with our friends and families.

She looked at me, eyebrows drawn together. "I think that sounds weird," she said flatly.

"Weird to have a special day given over to remembering loved ones and the great people who gave their lives over to God?" I asked, bemused. How, by any stretch of the imagination, could that possibly be weird? Is it weird to be consoled by the thought of seeing my two grandmothers? Weird to think of meeting St. John Vianney or St. Thérèse and thank them for praying for me?

If those things are weird, then I am very glad to be a great big weirdo on November 1 and 2 every year. I love being Catholic.

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