Maybe because of the very few people at this morning’s Mass-not obligatory because it fell on a Saturday, I thought of a comment my husband made about this life we are living a few weeks ago, This is not a game.
Surreptitiously, I glanced around the less than half filled church to see the faces of men and women there to worship; many of whom I knew had lost a daughter, a husband, a wife, or a mother and thought of John’s comment once again. Many of the gazes had a sheen of tears and more than a few faces were wet with tears. Rows of smiling photographs of loved ones no longer here were carefully placed in front of the altar.
Carefully explaining this morning’s liturgy, the priest remarked that this liturgy is familiar to us; these are the the psalms and the readings we hear at the funeral Mass. We are here to celebrate our ‘local’ saints, pointing to the rows of photographs arrayed there and then he carefully, reverently read out the long list of names of the husbands, wives, daughters, sons and mothers who are no longer here because they died this year.
I heard a whispered question from a woman sitting next to my husband, “Did you get many trick or treaters last night?” The ironic clash of the profane and the sacred playing as loudly as cymbals in my ear.
In some surveys I read that Halloween has become the favorite holiday of many Americans. Reflecting that change, Halloween decorations, costumes, parties have become quite elaborate. While in Houston, the decorations in some yards looked ornate, more ostentatious even than Christmas. The genesis of the holiday, All Saints Day Eve evident only in skeletons and scary movies and costumes; painted with stark clarity on the faces of those grieving today at the Mass for the dead…All Saints Day the Mass that celebrates the Christian belief that our physical death is an illusion; a doorway to our real destiny.
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: but you are fellow citizens with the saints and the domestics of God, Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord. In whom you also are built together into an habitation of God in the Spirit.
This is not a game. I am grateful for the reminder.