Services at St Michael and All Angels
Sunday 5 November, Sunday within the Octave of
All Saints Day
Sunday 19 November, 23rd Sunday after Trinity
Intent: Precept and Practice
Sunday 3 December, First Sunday of Advent
Sundays with no service at St Michael’s:
Sunday 12 November 22nd Sunday after Trinity
Intent: Right Energy
Sunday 26th November, Sunday next before Advent
Intent: Dispelling of ignorance
The liturgical season of All Saints and All Souls at the start of the month of November is one of the most significant times in the church year. The important celebrations at this time bring into focus some very important understandings for Liberal Catholics. The first is the understanding of the part that Saints can play in our lives and the second is the continuity of life.
The three days, 31 October and 1 and 2 November, represent “Allhallowtide”. The period begins at sunset on 31 October, known to us these days as Halloween. The word Hallowe’en is “holy evening” or “(All) Hallow(s) E(ve)en”. In Celtic traditions, on this evening right at the end of autumn and the harvest season, before the start of the darker wintertime, spirits and related entities roam free after sunset. Then the Saints re-establish spiritual order in the world on All Hallows’ Day, the day we call All Saints’ Day. In Celtic (and many other) traditions this particular evening at the end of Autumn was also the evening when the souls of the dead returned home and were appeased with offerings of food and drink. In the Christian tradition this is a time for honouring the Saints and praying for departed souls.
In past newsletters I have talked about the misunderstandings about the Saints being regarded as intercessors for us when we seek closer connection to God (or the Trinity). We need no such intercessors since the strength, love and support from the Trinity is closer than our breath; it permeates our core being. The question for us all is how can we effectively access this critical source of strength and inspiration in the midst of all the hurly burly of our daily lives.
Part of the answer is to interact with the Saints. The Saints have been recognised because of their extraordinary lives and examples. They have gone ahead of us, developing practices, attitudes and lifestyles that have shown us direct and accessible paths for us to follow towards finding God, or the Trinity. As a result of their dedicated personal development on earth, the Saints in their spiritual nature can help us gain access to the constantly available Prime Source that is God.
Giotto – The Court of Heaven
In the Liberal Catholic Church we have an understanding that we are clothed in many “bodies”, which in 21st century language we can nominate as our feelings, our intellect, our spiritual responses to uplifting experiences, and so on. These “bodies” have different states of awareness, different levels of consciousness. Other spiritual traditions have various names for these states of awareness. Members of our church too have explored those levels of consciousness which have the characteristic of increasing our levels and scope of awareness of every aspect of “Life” in the Cosmos, including up to the Trinity.
The critical point is that these levels of consciousness for an individual are “permanently on” and available at all times (like the internet), but our waking consciousness, without any additional work from our side, keeps us anchored at the day-to-day physical level. Requests to Saints and a relationship with them assists us to lift our consciousness up to a higher spiritual level where the experience and awareness of God is more intense, more vital and more enriching. The Saints assist us to lift ourselves out of the narrow confines of our daily working consciousness to a much more enriched higher level of our consciousness. In the final benediction in our Eucharist the Celebrant recites:
There is a peace that passeth understanding; it abides in the hearts of those who live in the eternal; there is a power that maketh all things new; it lives and moves in those who know the self as one.
These phrases capture the essence of the higher states of consciousness.
As Liberal Catholics we have the opportunity to explore the Traditional Wisdom which links the concept of an individual’s “spirit, soul, bodies” to the concept of the continuity of life. This is the focus of the celebration of All Souls’ Day where we recall all those who have departed from us.
The key and central part of this commemoration is not to engender sadness or sentimental feelings of loss but, on the contrary, to send and direct as forcefully and with as much love as we can thoughts and aspirations of encouragement to support all the departed souls. This is based on our Liberal Catholic view of the continuity of life. Although our loved ones are no longer visible, we expect that they are sill journeying on their own path. Just as we ask the Saints for love and assistance on our paths in the midst of our daily lives, so too can we all participate in a similar process of linking with and assisting those no longer visibly with us but still continuing their existence.
The month of November also sees the conclusion of the cycle of Trinity Sundays with the final intents of Perseverance, Right Energy and Precept and Practice. The fourth Sunday is the “Sunday Next Before Advent”, which reminds us all, again, that time hurries by.
With God’s blessing