For all the Saints
I didn't go to church today. I couldn't: it was too soon. Even though it was a pet who died, it was a life. And today was the day to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on before us into God's kingdom.
All Saint's Day, celebrated in the western Catholic, Lutheran, and many non-denominational Christian religions, is November 1st. As a church holiday, it is celebrated on the first Sunday after Halloween.
It is a time of remembrance, of thankfulness for lives, of mourning and gladness. Mourning that the people are no longer with us; gladness that their suffering is over and they are with God. It is a way of honoring those who have died in the last year, by praying for their souls, giving thanks for their lives and how they touched ours, and reminding ourselves that they are in a better place.
In my church (Evangelical Church of America), we have a time during the prayers where people can say, either aloud or silently, the names of their beloved family members and friends who have died this year. We can also say the names of those who have died in previous years whom we want to remember. As we take Holy Communion, we are reminded that we are joined in the feast with the "Saints, angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, and all those who have gone before", praising God and giving thanks to Him for our lives and our faith, and the knowledge that we will one day be with Him in Heaven as well, reunited with our loved ones.
This year, at home because I couldn't bear the grief of the day in public this year, I prayed, saying the names "Lydia, Grey Kitty, Spooky". Yes, those are my cats who passed on this year. In their own way, they were saints. Spooky was a foster kitten we grew to love, who went to his adopted home and died of an enlarged heart three weeks later. Grey Kitty was one of our ferals who died of complications from a broken leg. Lydia was our "alpha cat", our top snuggler, who had been with us for three of her almost none years. She died of cancer three weeks ago, and was the reason I stayed home.
As I sat there, praying, the words of two of my favorite All Saints' hymns came to me:
For All the Saints For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia! Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might; Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight; Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light. Alleluia, Alleluia! From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia! Blessed Assurance Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. * Refrain: This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long. Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels, descending, bring from above Echoes of mercy, whispers of love. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.