A Mormon All Saints

The feast of All Saints began as a memorial to martyred Christians and was celebrated at various times of the year on the day commemorating each specific martyrdom. The holiday coalesced into a single day, probably as early as the third century, and now falls on November 1 in the Western church, followed by All Souls’ Day on the 2nd.

Amid fireworks, trick-or-treaters, and clowning adults, I found a haven of quiet on All Saints’ Eve (Halloween), worshiping with some Anglican friends as they commemorated the lives of Christian Saints and martyrs and celebrated the eucharist at the grave of Christ. At the vigil, the celebrants processed around the cloisters and the church, praying at various icons of the Saints.

Latter-day Saints might also consider remembering their own Saints, Christian, Mormon, and other, and spend some time reflecting on their dead. Mormons will not feel comfortable petitioning the dead for intercession, but there is language in Mormon belief to view the righteous dead as active and aware beyond the veil. Perhaps after the merriment of Halloween, we can chase the ghouls and garishness away, and focus All Saints’ Day on temple, sealing, kin, and Christ.

Hymn: For all the Saints #82

Scripture: D&C 137

Thought: Remember our dead. Light a candle for several people on whom you wish to reflect. Consider their lives and sacrifices and give thanks for their example. Remember the atonement of Christ and his defeat of death and hell. Reflect on the temple and the sealing power. Tell stories about deceased family members. Have a look at a family tree. If possible, visit the graves of the dead.

Food/Activity: On the Día de Los Muertos, skull-shaped sweet Pan de Muerto is popular. If that sounds too Pagan, you could simply bake some bread as a family. Bread is suitably simple for such a reflective time, and reminds us of the Bread of Life that saves both living and dead.

***

On this All Saints Day I should like to remember two people. First, Rhoda Oakey who died aged 10 on the great Mormon trek, and who once breathed the same Worcestershire air as I. Second, my “cousin” Geoff, a model Christian gentleman, who treated me with such kindness and respect when I was a boy.

***

Feel free to add your own names of remembrance.

Comments

  1. Howard Arthur Morris, gifted food biochemist and wonderfully gentle Renaissance man.

  2. What a great reminder, Ronan. I am a descendant of Thomas Oakey, who was Rhoda’s father.

  3. I will post Sunday on what we did for All Saint’s on Saturday, as it is always observed here on the first weekend of November.

    But today I will light a candle for Albert who died when everyone was there and nobody was looking, and for YJ, a former students whose death broke my heart and stretched my faith.

    God bless you for this, Ronan.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Terrific religion-making, Ronan. All Saints strikes me as pretty much a natural for Mormons.

    I would like to remember two young men who died way too early, for each of whom I was honored to deliver the funeral sermon: James “Fred” Condie (dead at 17) and Jeff Flint (dead at 30).

  5. Only once in my life have I witnessed a death – been there when it happened. My good firend and mentor, Doug Edgell died at Youth Conference six years ago doing what he loved to do – serving the youth. He was 43 years old and the most humble man I’ve ever known.

    Thanks Ronan for giving me a reason to honor him.

  6. As this is my first semester in seminary, today is the first oportunity I’ve had to observe All Saints Day. For chapel, we started outside and processed to the Columbarium (a horseshoe shaped wall with lots of compartments for the ashes of revered persons connected to the seminary) while singing “Rejoice in God’s Saints”.

    We all participated in a responsive reading of Rev 7:9-17, sang “For All the Saints”, and partook of Communion. It was chilly out but I felt very warm inside even though I didn’t know a single person we were remembering.

    My mind wandered to how we as Latter-day Saints (no pun intended) choose to remember our personal saints (beloved friends and family) as well as institutional saints (for lack of a more concise term). Although we have no day set aside to honor our “saints” (July 24th comes close) they are mentioned enough in our religious discourse to have somewhat the same effect. As for me, I definitely had a spiritual experience that urges me to take this day more seriously than I have previously.

  7. Steve Evans says:

    Two famous names I think about more each year: Eugene England and Leonard Arrington. If we start canonizing members, please add these two to the list.

    More personally, I remember my grandmother Ruth Gerdes, who was a living testament to sainthood.

  8. Clifford Hunter, my maternal grandfather, whose presence looms larger each year as I remember his humble service and great example to me in my younger life.

    Bill Brown, my witty, funny, brilliant brother-in-law, who cheated at pinochle, and left us too early in his 40′s three years ago.

    And Mom & Dad.

    Thanks, Ronan.

  9. This is a moving post, Ronan. Thank you. I agree that such thoughts are deeply consistent with Mormonism. I was hoping Sam would bust a move on Joseph’s grand vision (I love it when he does that).

    There are too many to name or number. But I thank God for them.

  10. Bobby Hoffman, who shouldn’t have been there and was way too young to go.

    My grandma Kathryn, who I miss still each day, and for whom my youngest child is named.

    Eleanor and Everett, whom I wish I had known better; blood IS thicker than water.

    Thank you Ronan.

  11. I remember and honor my late Young Men’s President, Bro. Johnson, whose kindness and service I could not help but notice as a teenager some 20 years ago.

    It is the memory of his selfless service that inspires me in my own callings.

  12. Thank you, Ronan. I will never look at November 1 the same way again. The list of saints to honor is so long. My father, whose embodiment of integrity set the stage for my attraction to the writings of Lowell Bennion, is just one of the more recent.

  13. Lorenzo Davis, who left us just 6 days ago, whose unfeigned love of all brought all to a “family home evening” funeral service on Monday evening.

  14. Madison, who couldn’t make it through the darkness.

    And my Grandma Arlene, all the cousins thought they were her favorite.

  15. My father-in-law, Ray. Spiritual powerhouse, good old boy and physicist extraordinaire. There was so much more I could have learned.

  16. Our choir sang this song nigh unto Pioneer Day, and I think it works beautifully for The Feast of All Saints.

    In our day of thanksgiving one psalm let us offer
    For the saints who before us have found their reward;
    When the shadow of death fell upon them, we sorrowed,
    But now we rejoice that they rest in the Lord.

    In the morning of life, and at noon, and at even,
    He called them away from our worship below;
    But not till His love, at the font and the altar,
    Had girt them with grace for the way they should go.

    These stones that have echoed their praises are holy,
    And dear is the ground where their feet have once trod;
    Yet here they confessed they were strangers and pilgrims,
    And still they were seeking the city of God.

    Sing praise, then, for all who here sought and here found Him,
    Whose journey is ended, whose perils are past;
    They believed in the Light; and its glory is round them,
    Where the clouds of earth’s sorrows are lifted at last.

  17. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Thank you, Ronan, for this opportunity.

    A candle today, as always, for Tata Brodl, a man of arts and letters, who was kind, gentle, and respectful of all, especially his students.
    -trish

  18. Ronan, perhaps in honor of LDS precedent, we could refer to this blog post as a Book of the Law of the Lord or a Book of Remembrance.

    I would also remember dear Charlie, who never seemed to know or love himself before he had to leave.

  19. Isaac Lynn, who only had a brief sojourn upon this earth and Francis Hammond, who wrote the last month down.

  20. Many thanks all for your reverence and respect. I think I may try a variation on this theme for my EQ lesson on Sunday.

    “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

    “Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne,
    and to the Lamb.”

    All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

    “Amen!
    Praise and glory
    and wisdom and thanks and honor
    and power and strength
    be to our God for ever and ever.
    Amen!”

    Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?”

    I answered, “Sir, you know.”
    And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

    Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
    The sun will not beat upon them,
    nor any scorching heat.

    For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
    he will lead them to springs of living water.
    And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

  21. I am our Stake’s organist as well as the organist at a local Episcopalian church (ironically, “All Saints Episocopal”). They move the celebration of the Feast of All Saints to the next-nearest Sunday. So, this Sunday, I will remember my Dad, deceased at age 56, now nearly 9 years ago, as I play several settings of Sine Nomine (“For All the Saints”), a hymn he loved.

    My next-favorite “All Saints” text:

    1. I sing a song of the saints of God,
    patient and brave and true,
    who toiled and fought and lived and died
    for the Lord they loved and knew.
    And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
    and one was a shepherdess on the green;
    they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
    God helping, to be one too.

    2. They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
    and his love made them strong;
    and they followed the right for Jesus’ sake
    the whole of their good lives long.
    And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
    and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
    and there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
    why I shouldn’t be one too.

    3. They lived not only in ages past;
    there are hundreds of thousands still.
    The world is bright with the joyous saints
    who love to do Jesus’ will.
    You can meet them in school, on the street, in the store,
    in church, by the sea, in the house next door;
    they are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
    and I mean to be one too.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] out of the cemetery, through the darkness and past the candles lit by those who love the dead.   Like Ronan, I think there is great value in formally and even ritually remembering those who are dead. Aside [...]

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