November 1, 2015
I was talking to a friend who told me that one of the several colleges which her “senior” is interested in waives the application fee for students/parents who attend an “open house.” So, while this is a “B” list choice, they are taking a road trip for the weekend visit. This is a clever idea on the part of the college administrators, because the experience of actually walking the campus shoulder to shoulder with students already enrolled creates an appetite on the part of the applicant that sticks with them in a special way.
In the spiritual sense, every time we gather for Eucharist, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the faithful women and men who have gone before us, as well as with our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have yet to enter time. In other words, Eucharist is a way for us, for a brief moment here in the present, to step out of time and to claim and celebrate that part of ourselves which is “timeless.” Our Second Reading (1 John 3:1-3) acknowledges that “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” Still, by gathering at the Sacred Banquet, we are enjoying the company and companionship of those whose hope in The Risen Christ has been realized. The experience strengthens our own hope that we will be invited into the fullness of the Kingdom. Eucharist creates an appetite within us that will only be fully satisfied at the heavenly banquet, and, at the same time, helps us to prepare.
That being said, each year, our Church offers us a special opportunity to remember who we are and who we hope to become. On All Saints Day, we celebrate those who did their best while living in time to be pure of heart. It is a day when we are called to “Rejoice and be glad,” confident that their “reward will be great in heaven.” The following day…All Soul’s Day…is a celebration of our belief that through our prayers, we who exist in “the here and now” (time), can assist those who have already passed into eternity, but who are not yet properly attired to mingle with angels and saints. We believe that our prayers on their behalf help to win their admission to the heavenly household. There is a final element to these two days of “open house.” It is an opportunity for us to consider that we are the beneficiaries of prayers offered by the saints.
All Saints and All Souls Days are a kind of “open house,” where we are given a special opportunity to visit and experience eternal life in the Kingdom. During these days, we are reminded of the entrance requirements. We are also reassured that if, for whatever reason, we are not admitted immediately, even those who are “wait listed” should not lose hope. Christians “here” and “there” are cheering them on. In fact, the entire month of November, which brings us to the threshold of a new season and a new year, should be spent reflecting on the reality that life in this world is the threshold of eternal life. It’s a good time to remember that time is the doorway to eternity…and Eucharist is a window into what is waiting there for the pure of heart!