The Melanesian Martyrs' Memorial Church of St Andrews

Pentecost 24b, 2018 – All Saints’ & All Souls’ Sunday

Although All Saints’ Day is celebrated each year on November 1st, since it is one of the seven principal feast days on the church’s lectionary calendar, in years when the 1st doesn’t fall on a Sunday, such as today, many Anglican churches celebrate All Saints’ Day as well as All Souls’ Day, the Commemoration of All the Faithfully Departed, on the first Sunday in November. So what is the difference between All Saints’ Day and All Souls’?.  In the New Testament, the word ‘saints’ is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community. From very early times, however, the word ‘saint’ came to be applied primarily to persons of heroic sanctity.  So although All Saints’ Day, November 1st,      technically, includes all deceased Christians, historically, there has been a strong         inclination to remember and honour our personal loved ones on a separate day.  In the Roman Catholic Church, this remembrance on the day after All Saints’ Day is called All Souls’ Day, when the bereaved have the opportunity to offer prayers and masses for loved ones who have died. However, this practice was rejected by many Protestant reformers because the theology behind the observance was associated with the medieval doctrine of Purgatory along with the practice of paying for masses to be said for the dead to assist their souls into heaven.  At the time of the English Reformation in the mid-16th century, All Souls’ Day was integrated into the celebration of All Saints’ Day in the Church of England. But by the 19th century, some parishes influenced by the Anglo Catholic Revival reinstated the observance of All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.  The practice has subsequently been officially restored into Anglican Prayer Books.

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