Hallowe’en, All Saints and All Souls

Pax pumpkin for Hallowe'en
The Pax Pumpkin

Hallowe’en barely registers at the monastery because once we have sung First Vespers of All Saints we shall be celebrating the triumph of good over evil. No ghosts or ghouls for us, no tacky accommodations with evil under the guise of ‘fun’. With All Souls on Monday, we complete a feast of the the unity of the Church Militant (us), the Church Suffering (those in purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (those in heaven).

For various reasons, I won’t be blogging for a day or two, so here is a round-up of a few previous posts, including one by the late Bro Duncan PBGV, to save you the bother of searching in the side-bar. There are several more, if you are bored.

The illustration alone is entirely new. I can’t say I’m exactly proud of my first attempt at pumpkin-carving, but it is amazing both it and I survived the process. The arrival of Anglo-American neighbours who have a wonderful line of pumpkins outside their front-door prompted me to think how we might join in the children’s fun without encouraging the very things I am doubtful about. So, the Benedictine motto, pax or peace, surrounded by a crown of thorns (please use your imagination), will be shining out into the Herefordshire skies, a little gleam of light amidst much darkness. There is a meaning there that goes beyond the obvious, I trust.


Death, Be Not Proud

Last night came the telephone call we had been expecting for a long time, although, when it did come, it came as a shock, as these things always do. Quietnun’s mother, Jean King, slipped quietly out of this world and into the next. She was 97.

I imagine Mrs King would be mildly perplexed by her daughter’s praying for her. As a good Scottish Episcopalian, she was not exactly in sympathy with Quietnun’s firm belief in purgatory as the final preparation for the vision of God. All the rituals with which we surround the dead body — the sprinkling with holy water, the incensing, the deep bows to what was in life a temple of the Holy Spirit and is now closer to that vision of God than those of us who remain — would have seemed alien to her. I have no doubt, however, that she would have affirmed her belief in her Saviour, Jesus Christ, and trusted to the love of her children to perform all the last offices with reverence and dignity.

Death has become something of a taboo subject today. We use euphemisms like ‘passed away’ and speak of ‘the deceased’ as though they had ceased to be real persons. The truth is, they are more real now than they have ever been. We shall soon be celebrating the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. Together they invite us to understand what the Church is, what her hope is, and how we ourselves fit into the great story of humanity and our redemption in Christ.

Today in the monastery there is no weeping and wailing but instead a grave quietness, a sense of irreplaceable loss, a confident hope in the goodness and mercy of God. In short, a host of apparently contradictory feelings brought into unity by the belief that Mrs King has entered upon the final purifcation and we can aid her by our prayers. Death destroys many things, but it cannot destroy love which reaches beyond this world to the next.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail