Awakening Our Ancestors

On Sunday 5th of Nov, I attended the All Souls’ Day Service led by Father Martyn at St Gabriel’s Church, Aldersbrook. The service was attended by local parishioners and those recently bereaved. The service included prayers, thanksgiving, hymns and gospel readings. Father Martyn talked about the souls who had passed away in context to an eternal life of our past, present and future, calling it the ‘eternal now’.

On this day when we remember all the departed, we can perhaps not think that people are dead and gone, but instead have entered into their eternity. As Sir Walter Scott penned, "Is death the last sleep? No - it is the last and final awakening.”

There were clear messages of loss & grief along with the idea that it was natural for us to feel sad. At the end of the service, the names of those who had passed away were read out, The Commemoration of the Departed. On hearing loved one's name, family and friends would go to the altar and light a candle in their memory.

As a funeral director I serve the local community and have shared their bereavements. When Father Martyn read the names, I recognised many whom I had cared for, and my heart sank with deep sadness and sorrow. It was a time and moment for me to remember all those who had passed away and a chance to send them my personal heartfelt prayers and well wishes.

This has been a special week. We have celebrated both All Hallows’ Eve and the Festival of Samhain. The Pagan community marks this day by having a special meal and remembering their ancestors, whilst the rest of the western world celebrate Halloween by dressing up in scary outfits to go ‘trick or treating’. Mexican Day of the Dead, internationally observed in honouring the ancestors - helping with spiritual journey. The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and the living. These days are set aside to remember and pray for our ancestors.

Many of us are wearing a Poppy, honouring Remembrance Sunday, with a minute's silence at 11am. It is a day for the nation to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.

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