All Saints & All Souls

October 31, 2011

The shops are full of rubbish trying to tempt us to part with hard earned cash for skeletons, bats, pointy hats and other such Halloween tat. Perhaps a sign of the ‘Americanisation’ of our culture but certainly an indication of a society that has completely lost its compass for the spiritual world. For the Christian the spiritual world is not about ghouls and ghosts but about the Holy Spirit who transforms and ennobles our weak human nature. That’s what we’ll be celebrating on the Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls.

The feast of All Saints brings to our gaze the countless host of men and women who have lived the spiritual life to the full and now enjoy the life of heaven. The Commemoration of All Souls reminds us that the dead are not to be feared but loved and helped with our prayers. The wonderful things proclaimed in these two days are not to be passed over lightly.

Both tell us of the triumph of Christ over sin, evil and death. Both tell us of the power of his resurrection. Both show us where our real destiny lies. Let us ask the saints to pray for us, and let pray for our loved ones now departed. We can do so because we believe in the communion of saints – a community created by Christ that shares in his risen, healing love.

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St Teresa of Avila – 15th October

October 10, 2011

Discussions about the pros and cons of the ordination of women often start in the wrong place. The whole debate is constructed in terms of rights and power. It might be better if both sides thought about the call that Christians have to serve each other. The woman whose feast we celebrate next Saturday was, of course, never ordained but she had and has tremendous power over the Church.

Teresa of Avila is one of the towering giants of Christian spirituality. Against an atmosphere of almost lax indifference she travelled up and down Spain in the sixteenth century founding convent after convent dedicated to perfection of the Christian life. Her nuns were renowned for a way of life that was austere yet sensible, single minded and yet open. In her own life she combined the qualities of the ‘eagle and the dove’.

Teresa has left us masterpieces of spiritual writing which are still devoured today. She was part of that wonderful, positive tide of reform that swept the church in the wake of Luther’s challenge. And at the centre of all her writings is the solid conviction that God’s love will triumph. Christians are called not to exercise power or demand their rights but rather to serve and in that lays our true authority.