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News from the Vicarage - November 2016

Dear Friends,

1st November: All Saints' Day - the feast day of all the redeemed. All Saints, or All Hallows, is the feast of all the redeemed, known and unknown, who are now in heaven.

When the English Reformation took place, the number of saints in the calendar was drastically reduced, with the result that All Saints' Day stood out with a prominence that it had never had before.

This feast day first began in the East, perhaps as early as the 5th century, as commemorating 'the martyrs of the whole world'. A Northern English 9th century calendar named All Hallows as a principal feast, and such it has remained. Down the centuries devotional writers have seen in it the fulfillment of Pentecost and indeed of Christ's redemptive sacrifice and resurrection.

The saints do not belong to any religious tradition, and their lives and witness to Christ can be appreciated by all Christians.

On All Saints' Day 1st Nov there is a Sung Eucharist at 7.30pm.

2nd November All Souls' Day - a time of reckoning with the past. The early Church was slow to dedicate a liturgical day to offering prayers and masses to commemorate the faithful departed. But in time prayers were offered on behalf of dead monks, that they might attain 'the Beatific Vision' through purification, which the Church later described as Purgatory. Odilo, the powerful abbot of Cluny, (d 1049) decreed that All Souls' Day should follow the feast of All Saints' Day.

At least four ancient English dedications are known, the most famous of which are All Souls College, Oxford and the church in Langham Place in London.

In bygone centuries All Souls' Day was certainly uncomfortable for anyone who had wronged a person who had then died. For it was believed that souls in purgatory could appear on earth on this day, in the form of ghosts, witches or toads, to haunt anyone who had wronged them in life.

On a more cheerful note, it was also believed that you could help the dead on this day by almsgiving in cash or in kind. Some of these beliefs seem to have been caught up in the popular customs of Hallowe'en.

Remembrance Sunday Service 13th November 10.45 at the War Memorial.

During this month we remember those who have heroically given their lives in war. However, Jesus calls us all to a radical heroism: You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.' (Matt 5:43-45).

My prayers and best wishes,

Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar