Redeeming All Hallows Eve

Doorway to Eternity

     “If we are honest, we acknowledge that we are dying throughout our life, and this is what we learn if we are attentive: grace is found at the depths and in the death of everything.”         ~Fr. Richard Rohr

Few people realize that the ancient church’s All Hallows Eve (“Hallow-e’en”) and All Saints Day were intentionally focused on both harvest and death, not in mindless emulation of pagan traditions, but for healthy, meaningful reasons.

Harvest festivals celebrate the ingathering of fruits and grains. And yet, at the same time, all around the town are the now-dead crops that produced them. Sad? No. Because this means they’ve accomplished their purpose, borne their fruits, and now rest in the earth. It’s a healthy perspective, one of death as fulfillment, not fear, as a time of rest and, although it cannot yet be seen, of a coming resurrection in the spring.

People too complete their work, die, and rest in the earth, All Hallows Eve reminds us. And yet they too will be resurrected one day. Therefore, on All Saints Day, those who’ve completed their purpose in life are honored (the Latin world’s two-part Day of the Dead stems from this idea, as well). And for those whose souls are less secure, the predecessor to trick-or-treating emerged:

On All Hallows Eve, the poor, especially children, would knock on doors, offering to pray for the souls of the family’s dead, and would be rewarded with sweet, fruit-filled little “soul cakes.” One spiritual-minded baker even put holes in her soul cakes, making them into circles representing eternity (and in the process inventing doughnuts!).

So let us refuse to surrender All Hallows Eve to that dark, unhealthy fear of death as something evil, something to be feared. Richard Rohr was right: one of the best ways to celebrate life is to acknowledge death as a grace, as a rest, a passage. For without death, there is no completion of this life’s purpose, no resurrection to the life to come. But for those whose souls are truly at rest, death is not an end…

It’s a doorway.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Redeeming All Hallows Eve

  1. francisashis says:

    Very well stated,it is indeed God’s grace that people find time to rest after a few decades tireless work before a journey to eternity.Thank you very much .Take care .

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ejstoo says:

    Let us not forget: … lots of pagan things about most Christian holidays. We should acknowledge all aspects. The Jack ‘O Lantern has an Irish slant on it…and they were pagan at one time 🙂 Happy Halloween. The mask, by the way was made to also trick the evil spirts from taking over. Have a happy day 😉 Religion was always meant to comfort the believer not to drive us against each other.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you for this reframing. We tend to have a very unhealthy relationship with death in our culture.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for the great explanation, Mitch! So true! Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Well said, Mitch. Death need not be feared if one has lived well. I pray that those who believe we only exist in this earthly life will find

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, great post Mitch! I didn’t know any of that. And you also presented a great perspective. Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. 🎃

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love your post, Mitch. Informative and inspirational ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christi says:

    Great words, Mitch.
    Death, where is thy sting?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve not heard some of this history before. Thanks for sharing it and presenting another perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Norman Peterson says:

    Hello Mitch: I often wondered when this night changed from little kids in cowboy and angel costumes to horror, fear and demonic worship. I guess around the time a lot of us embraced existential closed universe philosophy and rejected the open universe of our Lord and Savior. Perhaps during my bohemian years segueing into the middle sixties? Thanks for the reminder Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. SelmaMartin says:

    We are living and hopefully doing our best to make the soil (earth) better because when we die — and we will, our seeds will take root in the same soil.
    And yes. Grace. Always grace.
    Thanks for sharing. Just lovely. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. susankgray says:

    Thank you for solving the mystery of doughnuts for me! Don’t forget to have a blessed All Saints Day tomorrow, as one of the saints, yourself. 🙂

    Please keep blessed!
    Your friend, Susan

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Redeeming All Hallows Eve — shared from Mitch Teemley – Uncoffined

  14. Terrific post, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. revruss1220 says:

    So true. So very true.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks, Mitch, for the mind / eye-opening, learned discourse (dare I say sermon?). More people need to be reminded that the (m)ad-men’s crass, avarice driven, HYPER-commercialization (to state this charitably and politely), waters down the spiritual side to All Hallows Eve, Christmas and Easter, not to mention defeating the true intent of Memorial – Independence – Labor – Veterans Days; and, in turn, dilutes the society that figuratively and literally buys into such adverts. If you ever grow weary of the director’s chair, the pulpit awaits.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Abe Austin says:

    John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

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