“I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” (Apostles’ Creed, BCP, page 54)
Anglican Christians profess this last third of the Apostles’ Creed at Morning and Evening Prayer each day. On this Sunday of celebration of both “All Saints’” and “All Souls’”, it’s important to keep the Doctrine of the Communion of Saints in context. Catholic minded Christians have always acknowledged that there are those men/women, boys/girls whose lives were so given over to the Love of God as to make them worthy of special recognition and honor. They are “Saints” (with a capital letter “S”) that we honor on the Day of their Death. If their identity is unknown to us, we honor them on Nov. 1st (“The Feast of All Saints’”).
Those faithful departed Christians who have not been so honored or recognized, we cherish every bit as much as the “Saints”. On Nov. 2nd, their Day is titled “The Feast of All the Faithful Departed”, or more simply, “All Souls’ Day”. This group of saints (with a small letter “s”) may be your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your best friend, your revered teacher or soldier, or pastor. During today’s Mass, we will read out all the names of these beloved, departed “saints” during the Prayers of the People. It is a long list. It will take time to read and to hear them read. Yet, reading out their names is worth our time. For, they are precious in our memories, and we love even the sound of their names…along with the sweet lives they lived. And, we also know they were imperfect…some, deeply flawed!
Of course, a “Saint” and a “saint”, and a “soul” have one great thing in common: the forgiveness of sins. That is the most important context for this Feast Day. Every canonized Saint…every unknown Saint…every faithfully departed soul…has had great sins which Christ’s Blood has covered. We are- every one of us- in desperate need of forgiveness. And, Praise God, every single one of us has been joined to Christ and our sins washed away forever. Thus: All Saints’; All Souls’’ All forgiven! So: let us journey on to a good “finish” to our lives. Let’s be saints!!