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Claiming Our Sainthood

Roskam (1)This Sunday we celebrate All Saints Day (transferred from November 1). It is a major feast of the church year and one of the four great baptismal days, the others being Baptism of Christ, Easter Vigil, and Pentecost.

The celebration includes all the saints, not just the famous ones—all the faithful, members of the Body of Christ across space and time, in this world and the next, united in the Communion of Saints.

It was not always so. The church used to celebrate the famous saints on All Saints but remember the deceased in our own time on All Souls, formerly November 2. After Vatican II and also the development of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer that was changed for very valid reasons both theologically and scripturally. We all need to claim our sainthood, not as being perfect but as understanding that we belong to Christ. “Your are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and marked as Christ’s own forever.” Christ’s perfection is the foundation of our sainthood, and knowing that moves us to “see him more clearly, love him more dearly, follow him more nearly day by day.”

But while the conflation of the two observances is absolutely right and good, the joyfulness of the day sometimes seems out of sync with the very real sorrow of recent loss. We need never fear that mourning is a sign of lack of faith. We have the assurances of St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians that we grieve but not without hope. And Jesus himself mourned for his friend Lazarus at the grave..

Honoring that sorrow is the impetus for our offering “Good Grief” on November 27. Watch these pages for details in the coming weeks.

Till then, to all the saints of St. James, blessings!

                                                                +Catherine