Saturday, November 01, 2014

All Saints Day...

is today, November 1st, but our poor Bishops think that no one could possibly want to celebrate it, so it's been merged into tomorrow, Sunday.
Yesterday was Hallowe'en, the Eve of All Hallows, All Saints. Celebrated with a nationwide explosion of faces painted with grisly torture marks, shops covered in orange and black trimmings,  houses draped with sheets and images of ghosts, and children dressed up as ghouls and monsters going from house to house seeking sweets...walking down a residential road in  prosperous suburb - I was returning from a session in the College library - was like walking through an American
stage-set for "let's celebrate Hallowe'en - here's how to do it!"

This is absolutely the right time for us to be saying "Yes - and it's ALL SAINTS TOMORROW, and ALL SOULS AFTER THAT! Fantastic opportunity to engage with the culture. Ghosts and ghouls and children having fun - all part of an ancient tradition recently revived (albeit sometimes in horrible and lurid forms). Let's engage. Let's celebrate. Let's evangelise . But no.  Our poor dear Bishops think's not have All Saints, let's just tell people to mark it on the next Sunday. Downplay it. Muddle it. Make people feel it's been "abolished".  Have no answer when people say "So what's Hallowe'en then? When did Hallowe'een start? " and similar questions. Run away from the culture. Try to ignore it. Heads in sand.

It is all the sadder this year, because All Souls Day has to be moved to Monday anyway (ie, it would do so even without the move-All-Saints stuff).
Please, PLEASE, dear Bishops:
When I last had correspondence with a Bishop on the subject - a good man, and a kind one - I
explained that, when a feast-day is moved to a Sunday, most people simply think it's been "abolished". They go to Mass on Sunday, and honestly don't notice that the readings etc are for a feast-day. His response: "Do they not read their parish newsletter?"

No, dear Bishop, they don't. Of course they don't. Some may browse it during the homily.  Some (devout) people might take it home and have it handy for checking weekday or confession times. Some might - might -  take note of some forthcoming event such as the Christmas Bazaar. But the idea that most will even remotely connect the newsletter with "Oh, so it's All Saints Day then! How splendid! A really important feast" is just pathetic wishful thinking. THE WAY TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND ABOUT ALL SAINTS' DAY IS TO CELEBRATE IT ON ALL SAINTS' DAY.


David said...

I do so agree! You keep saying this to bishops when you meet them, as I'm sure do others. But how often do you meet a bishop if you're an ordinary pew-person? The mass-petition organisations, like 38 Degrees for example, seem actually to make a difference when they get lots of people all wanting the same thing. Is there a way we who want our Holy Days back could do this?

Malcolm said...

You can always write a polite letter to the bishop. Not too long, not extremely brief, not being too scathing about the decision and certainly not implying that it was undertaken for any but the best motives.

I did that once. My idea went all the way up through the English bishop's conference to St Pope John Paul II, who rejected it personally.

Anonymous said...

In the USA our bishops simply declared All Saints not to be a holy day of obligation this year, and that we were to celebrate All Souls on Sunday (it only moved to Monday in the Extraordinary Form). Interesting how matters differ from place to place.