More than 2500 years ago, the Celts celebrated their new year, the end of the harvests, and the arrival of winter all on October 31. This festive ceremony, in honor of the deity Samain (god of death), allowed communication with the spirits of the dead. That day, the doors between the world of the living and the world of the dead were opened. According to legend, that night, the ghosts of the dead visited the living.
Halloween is, above all, a pretext to “party” and forget the long fall evenings, often rainy and gloomy. All Saints’ Day is also a celebration, but much more meditative. The atmosphere surrounding each November 1 – and the commemoration of the dead the next day – contributes to giving All Saints’ Day a particular character, one which touches the relationship of each individual to death while ensuring more of a social function of cohesion around the memory of the “dear departed.”
Holiness is not reserved for the elite. It concerns all who choose to put their steps in those of Christ. The first merit of this All Saints’ Day is to help us to fight against a rather subtle, but radical temptation which threatens the Christian life permanently. It is that of seeing in each saint, a life so extraordinary and marvelous that is is inaccessible. Jesus is the one who saves us, the one who transforms us, the one who wants us to become like Him.
All Saints’ Day is a feast of communion with the saints and with a God of Love in emphasizing the hope of the resurrection and the joy of those who put the Beatitudes at the center of their lives. All Saints’ Day focuses on Christ, the conqueror of death. It is a way to signify that we are all called to holiness and, thus, invited to put our steps in those of Christ.
Written by Sister Michelle Loisel, D.C.