In the New Testament, the word â€œsaintsâ€ is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community â€” including you and me. In the Collect for All Saintsâ€™ Day the word â€œelectâ€ is used in a similar sense.
From very early times, however, the word â€œsaintâ€ came to be applied to persons of heroic sanctity, whose deeds were recalled with gratitude by later generations. All Saintsâ€™ Day, then, was originally a commemoration of the martyrs of the ancient church â€” the men, women, and children who were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ. It has since become a festival on which the church remembers all the Christian faithful, both known and unknown.
All Saintsâ€™ Day is classed in the Book of Common Prayer as a Principal Feast, taking precedence over any other day or observance. It may be observed on the following Sunday, and is one of the four days recommended for the administration of Holy Baptism.
The festival of saints is also known as All Hallows or Hallowmas (â€œhallowsâ€ means â€œsaints,â€ and â€œmasâ€ means â€œMass.â€ Halloween precedes this feast by one day, and is so named because it is â€œThe Eve of All Hallows.â€
As has become our custom at St. Johnâ€™s, we will again welcome voices from the past into our service on November 2. Several saints will briefly give witness to their lives as followers of Christ as part of our All Saintsâ€™ Day feast.