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.