By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC
My favorite season is autumn, with its days of glorious color, harvest, and honey bees humming above the purple asters in the back yard. In his “Ode to Autumn,” the poet, John Keats, writes of a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” that swells “the gourd and plumps the hazel shells.” The tender green shades of spring have matured to vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows.
The Catholic Church also celebrates this season of fullness with the Nov. 1 Feast of All Saints and the Nov. 2 Feast of All Souls.
On All Saints day, we remember all saints, not just those in the calendar of saints that rotates through the liturgical year, not just those whose names we know, or others that we could pluck from the Litany of All Saints. We celebrate all who have gone before us and who now enjoy the fullness of God’s presence, life, and grace. We also celebrate ourselves, for we are God’s holy people who struggle and mostly succeed in living the Beatitudes proclaimed in the Gospel from Matthew.
On All Souls day, we mourn and commemorate those who were among us and are now part of the “great multitude who stand before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
The closing days of autumn, rich in color and harvest bounty, remind us of the living and dead who have been part of our long tradition. Do these two feasts really need to be separated? Perhaps the Church could consider merging All Saints and All Souls into one glorious feast for God’s holy people.
Treat yourself to an autumn feast by reading and contemplating all of Keats’ poem as well as Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14, 1 John 3:1-3, and Matthew 5: 1-12, the readings for the feast of All Saints.