An Inclusive Reflection On The Meaning Of All Soul’s Day
As people who seek to find hidden meanings and inclusive understanding, the usual approach toward holidays and holy days of other denominations is one of curiosity and interest- curiosity, maybe even an appreciation of the tradition and the beliefs involved, but rarely is it a full acceptance and a rightful adoption into our own calendar of meaningful events.
Briefly, all through church history, there has been the pattern of adopting indigenous holidays and making them ” Christian.” All Hallows Eve was a time when the dead came alive and their spirits walked the earth for the last time before being sent up to heaven or being condemned to Hell. It was a time for ghostly visitations, and when the energies and impulses toward good and evil became manifested in people and the culture.
The Church, seeing this as a pagan revelry celebrating the harvest and the mischief of merrymaking, transformed it into a night where there was a battle of good and evil and the night before all the Saints- when all the blessed faithful would ascend to heaven to be with God. This more pious approach became a Holy Day of Obligation- a time when everyone was to go to church and pray for the souls of the faithfully departed, that they might rest in peace, and that their entry into heaven would be assured.
However, that practice became modified and exclusive. It became a day for honoring those appointed few and those who received an official recognition by the Church as a saint…. leaving a vast majority of us in the category of sinners who still had to worry about going to Hell!
The pious doctrines of the Church shifted the prayers to focus on the necessity and the appeal to those saints and to God to answer their prayers, thereby releasing people from Purgatory- that in-between place called Limbo was also taught up to the 1970’s- which was was the place of judgment of eternal salvation versus eternal damnation.
Because being holy or heroic is beyond most of us, at any one time, being a saint was culturally considered to be an exclusive club or high achievers… which deteriorated over time into an “Us and Them” dualities that emphasized who was saved and who was not, who had God’s favor and who were headed straight for Hell…
As the old joke goes… you know, some people always seem to get a lift, and catch the elevator going up to heaven, and some people… well.. . Some people seem to always get the shaft!
In a noble and inclusive recognition of this theological either/or, it was corrected to rebalance the scales of judgment in a way that promoted equality before God… What was then instituted was another day to follow, and that day would be for the rest of us; and a day when all the faithfully departed, would gain entry into the everlasting mercy and peace known as heaven. That became All Soul’s Day.
For those of us who have chosen a more inclusive, accepting, and less judgmental view, who have concluded from their careful Bible study and an appraisal of Western theology, that if God were as good as all these orthodox priests and ministers claim, then why would there be such fear and grief over death? Why would there be a question about salvation, and a nagging worry about where one’s soul goes after death?
If God is good, and a God that is love, there is nothing to fear for any or all of us, whether they are strong believers and even the most adamant of unbelievers, all of us will still go to heaven…
Why even the Devil himself will be saved in the end! (Al Pacino included!!!)All Soul’s is a day that affirms the goodness of God, the defeat of the teachings on damnation, and acts as a reminder of our humanness, when we honor and recall those people who still live in our hearts who have departed this earthly life. It can be solemn and it can be joyful; it can be filled with gratitude as they are remembered with respect and compassion. All Soul’s Day is an yearly occasion when we begin to evaluate the past and appraise the future; when friends, families, or a community comes together to remember that we live our lives in between memory and hope.
The Devil and his Friend
One day, the Devil went out for a walk with his friend…. They saw a man ahead of them stop, stoop down and pick up something from the ground…
” What did the man find?”, asked the friend. The Devil said, ” Oh, he found a piece of the Truth.” “Doesn’t that disturb you?”, asked the friend…
“No” said the Devil- “I just will let him make a religious doctrine out of it”
A religious belief is only a signpost pointing towards the truth. When you cling to the signpost you are prevented from moving ahead to the goal. When you believe that you have the whole truth, there is no incentive to find out more or expand your understanding of truth that comes in from all directions.