All Saints Day 2014

GhentaltarThe Ghent altarpiece is probably the most famous work of art associated with the liturgy of All Saints’ Day. Usually, only the lower central panel is shown, the so-called Adoration of the Lamb, where the worshipers are gathered into groups signifying the martyrs, confessors, virgins and so on of the liturgy. I suggest that today we spend a few moments looking at the altarpiece as whole because I think it reminds us of something about this feast we too often overlook. It is a celebration of our redeemed humanity. Adam and Eve, shown without the serpent, please note, are part of the story of our redemption as well as our fall. How easily we forget that! The New Adam, Christ our Lord, takes his flesh from a long line of human ancestors, including some rather dodgy figures. I think that tells us that sin and forgiveness are woven into the story of salvation; that to be a saint is to be a forgiven sinner; and until we draw our last breath, we are still members of the communion of saints by virtue of our membership of the Church, still sinners by virtue of being human. The mystery of salvation is open to us all, but we live now in suspension, as it were, between heaven and earth. Only when the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant are one will the liturgy of All Saints be complete.

For earlier posts on the link between All Saints and All Souls, please use the Search box on the right.


St Lucy

Advent is all about light and darkness, and this feast of St Lucy is a lovely one, coming as it does when the stars are brilliant in the frosty sky and we know that the Sun of Justice is soon to shed his rays upon us. The story of St Lucy is well-known (and Quietnun would never let me forget it, even if the liturgy did) but I am squeamish about eyes and prefer to keep the gorier bits in the decent obscurity of Latin. For those who have a special interest in the needs of the visually impaired, as we and our volunteers do through our Veilaudio service, this feast is a reminder that light and sight are easily taken for granted. Perhaps we all need to remember that we see most clearly not with our eyes but with our hearts. That is why my personal heresy about judgement day is this: we shall each look into the eyes of Christ and know ourselves for the first time, loved in spite of all our failures, forgiven in spite of all our sins. It will be a sweet pain, true purgatory. Before then, let us make friends with the saints, that they may aid us with their prayers.