Two Fall Messages from Fr. Justin

Posted on Oct 30, 2016

HALLOWTIDE

Hallowtide is the eight days beginning at sundown on the eve of All Saints’ Day. The three gems of this little micro-season (octave) are Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. Traditionally, on October 31, there is a special All Hallows’ Eve Service, where there is the initial turning towards the cosmic aspects of our world, like the War between the Angels in the book of Revelation.

Also, there is special attention turned toward the departed with a visit to the cemetery (which was often part of the church’s campus). Already we have an atmosphere of life after mortal death.

On the following day, there is All Saints’ Day or Hallowmas. On this day we traditionally remember the Saints in heaven and particularly those whose continuing ministry we might rely on. On this day there is often chanted the Litany of the Saints as we ask them to pray for us. As our Book of Common Prayer has it,
“…we pray that, encouraged by their examples, aided by their
prayers, and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may
be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light…” (BCP p.504)

On November 2nd we remember all the faithful departed and particularly those we love but see no longer. These are the saints in-route to the Perfection that is Heaven. There was an old English term for this, “The Church Waiting” picking up on the “expectant” quality of the in-between. These are folks who have their sights set on God and are continuing in the Divine Therapy, wherein the Holy Spirit is active in removing the obstacles to our continual abiding in God’s presence. You might call this the purification of the unconscious, with the recognition that who we are is much more than the biological functions of the body and the brain.

This purification continues until it is complete, related to us in our Collect of Purity,
“…Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP p.355)

It is a great matter of faith and mercy to pray for the departed and the complete healing of the unconscious. It is a prayer we make for the living on a regular basis, and has been a prayer we make for the departed since the earliest of times. You may have heard this saying before, “There are only Saints in Heaven.”

My dear Aunt Carol will not be a second string Saint beyond those “pearly gates”. She will be a full blown Saint, just as St. Francis of Assisi or St. Theresa of Calcutta or our own patron St. Peter the Apostle. Now as far as I can tell, she did not depart this world with the same level of purification of the unconscious that our beloved Patron had, but through God’s great love and care, it seems as though with our sights set on God, we get infinite chances to heal and be prepared for our heavenly existence.

Hallowtide is our practice of looking at the long view of our life. Of seeing our spiritual life as a purification of life down to its very roots so that we might perfectly love God and one another. And we pray for one another; the departed and of course the living, so that we might persevere in this purification and healing of the unconscious. And we ask those who have “…finished their course in Thy faith and fear…” (BCP p.489) to aid us with their prayers, that we might be One with God, as Our Lord, Jesus Christ prayed to the Father we would.

On November 1st there will be a simple Evening Prayer for All Saints’ at 5 pm in the Lady Chapel which will include the Litany of Saints.
On November 2nd there will be Evening Prayer for the Departed at 5 pm in the Lady Chapel which will include the Litany for the Departed.
Thursday’s 10 am Eucharist on the 3rd will be a general Requiem for the All the Faithful Departed.

A blessed Hallowtide to everyone.

peace,
justin+

ADVENT

The Gospel of the first Sunday of Advent ends: “ Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:42-44)

The central intention of the Advent Season is to prepare with prayer, and reorganizing our spiritual life so that we can be ready, or as ready as we can be, to meet Christ in the great celebration of his birth. It’s really a tough time however and we tend to be fairly distracted during this season. There is a great deal to do getting ready for the Christmas Holiday, and for the secular world, the Christmas season (a shopping season) begins the day after Halloween and really gets moving the day after Thanksgiving. There simply are not many supports in our culture to prepare to receive God who is born in every heart prepared for this birth. And so for many in our culture, including many Christians, the reality of God tends to go unrealized and Advent as a time of focused watchfulness is lost.

One of the most helpful practices that my family has used for Advent is that we do all our Christmas shopping before that first Sunday in Advent which is the 27th of this month. This is pretty big. We talk with our kids and our family about what they would like or need well before Advent. Though this doesn’t put to bed all of the “I wants…” it gives us a great start and a profound redirection during Advent. We are learning to listen more deeply and to watch more intimately as the days get dark so much sooner.

The hectic shopping is all but gone and we can shift gears away from the Christmas consumer to the Christian. We can learn to listen with the heart, and begin to watch in the darkness of these colder days. It is a relief to leave Santa till Christmas, if you practice the Santa Claus tradition. By Thanksgiving, our focus can be on Advent with space to let the mind and heart open up in preparation for the great mystery of this birth.

Give this pre-Advent shopping a try as an experiment. Maybe you get half of your shopping done, maybe more. It might take a few years to get it into a groove and that’s OK too. Any attempts we make to re-order our lives so we might come to know more truly God’s presence and love is an investment in the stability of the entire world. And the world is in serious need of some blessed stability. peace, justin