Thoughts on All Saints Day & All Souls Day

Today is All Saints Day in the Christian tradition.  Tomorrow, as you read it, will be All Souls Day. 

Ancestors honored with undying love: “All Saints’ Day at a cemetery in Gniezno, Poland – flowers and candles placed to honor deceased relatives (2017).” Wikimedia Commons.

Together they have lessons to teach us about our greatness and holiness as a species on the one hand; and about our relationship with ancestors who have gone before us, including their holiness and greatness, on the other.

We can call this the communion of saints.  Saints on earth and saints who have journeyed elsewhere.

All Souls Day brings to mind the veil that is so thin at this endarkening time of year between the living and the deceased, between life and death.  As the veil becomes more transparent and thinner, Spirit and spirits appear to be less invisible and more present among us.

Today is a big day for me.  It is the day I submit my just-finished Manuscript on Père Chenu to an editor, and after that to a publisher.  I am struck by the synchronicity that I am completing the Manuscript on All Saints Day and sending it on its way (no doubt more editing awaits me). 

“Marie-Dominique Chenu,” from biography in Backward View blog, 2/12/2012; photographer unknown

It is a much bigger project than I had envisioned or even knew I had in me at my advanced age, but my love for Chenu and the richness of his writings kept me going and inspired me.  He named the creation spirituality tradition for me.

I end the book on the topic of holiness and how Chenu helped to redefine it for the 21st century by grounding spirit in history and in the “holiness of matter” (his words) and in the cosmos.  About the latter, he reminds us that “the human person is entirely one with the cosmos.” 

What an important perspective this is in a time like ours when, on the one hand, Webb Telescope is filling us with images of our 13.8-billion-year relationship to the cosmos; and on the other, images abound of our wars against one another and against Mother Earth herself.

See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 40, 72-82, 97, 221, 276, 281, 285,  251, 311, 440, 451.

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas.

Banner Image: “The Communion of Saints” by Fra Angelico, originally in the Church of San Domenico (dedicated 1435), now in the National Gallery in London. Photo by Lawrence OP on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

What comes to mind for you on All Saints Day?  On All Souls Day?  Do you agree that being aware that the human person is entirely one with the cosmos matters and especially in times of war like ours?  Why or why not?

Recommended Reading

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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10 thoughts on “Thoughts on All Saints Day & All Souls Day”

  1. Avatar

    Yes, I do heartedly agree that humans are one with the Universe, especially during these times of so much dis-ease – wars, illnesses, etc.
    Though I am unable to articulate this truth, when I allow my self to go into a deeper place, I trust it is the truth.
    It is a subtle awakening and I sense progress—more are sensing this. It is not wishful thinking. All is well and getting better in the bigger picture, though it doesn’t feel that way. As my perceptions to the divine (in each of us, along with nature and the universe —the whole enchilada) shift there is hope and a lightness. This time of the year is one of the best cycles to go into the darkness to experience an inner knowing.
    So Be It

  2. Avatar

    It matters so much – to know we are entirely one with the cosmos. It gives a person energy and motivation to take seriously the fact that the creativity of the universe resides in us – the beauty, the resourcefulness, the compassion – and to trust that it is possible to align ourselves with the wisdom that underlies it all: the centred grounded eye of the storm part of the ecosystem. Something like that. Something like that??

  3. Avatar

    Yes, the glorious mystery of our Soul, our True Eternal Heart Self, Being in ONENESS with All our past ancestors And with Our Loving Evolving COSMOS, including our Sacred Mother Earth and All Her living creatures, is an essential Awareness/Consciousness in our ongoing evolution/transformation towards experiencing and Living Our human~Divine natures of LOVING COMPASSIONATE ONENESS with one another and within ALL OUR SACRED COSMOS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  4. Avatar

    Bless you, Matthew, for all your time, effort, energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to sharing your wisdom and challenging us with your prophetic words and actions. May your newest book continue to educate and call us to be all that God created us to be. Shalom.

  5. Avatar

    Yes, all is one. We are one with the Cosmos, with nature, with each other. Thank you for reminding us of this beautiful truth. When we all realize this, war will no longer be an option. Actions based on fear will no longer drive our behavior. The paradigm we live under will change. Let’s be this change together. Thank you for your writings and the inspiration and insights that they bring.

  6. Avatar

    Congratulations on completing and sending off your new book today Matt!
    Speaking of Ancestors and All Saints I’m feeling their help and cosmic order with the celebration of Bayard Rustin at the history center in his home town of West Chester with a viewing of the new film on his work and life being released in theaters this weekend. I feel it will offer us so much inspiration and strength in these most unsettled times. The film will be shown just down the block from the movie theater where he was arrested and jailed in high school for moving down to the first floor to sit with his friends. It was such a blessing to teach in the high school where he was a top scholar, athlete and activist! Guess we can’t make him a saint being a Quaker but a Good Trouble Maker for sure finally getting well deserved attention in the right moment! More about the film here.

    1. Avatar

      Peggy, I’m comparing historic events of wildly different magnitude; but I’ll share my reflections your comment led to this morning. While we remember people who stand in front of the microphone, we seldom remember (or even know of) those behind the actions, those who do the grunt work. Strategic work. Nuts and bolts. Raising money, filling out paperwork, planning routes and gathering places, getting permits. As the film shows, Rustin is the person who organized The March on Washington, and I see parallels with Allan’s actions in my just-produced play “La Posada.” Most significant historic undertakings begin from the ground up, not from the top down, and they seldom if ever have enough funding to do what they set out to do, as scenes in my play and in the movie demonstrate. It’s done on a shoestring. You have to get behind the flashy results—the biggest peaceful demonstration in our nation’s history, the restoration of a historic hotel—to see what it takes to make change, and it’s not money. It’s commitment. I can’t wait to see the movie. It’s not always the people out in front who have the biggest impact. Very often it’s the charismatic people you’ve never heard of who move history, justice, and freedom forward. As has been said, “Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.”

  7. Avatar

    So good and perfect to be one with Cosmos…..what else is there that matters!

    Thank you Matthew for a great Meditation, today and always.

    Margaret N.

  8. Avatar

    Congratulations on finishing the book. All Saints and All Souls Day remind me that I am here because of the sacrifices of my own ancestors, even in their flawed ways, and because of all the cloud of witnesses who came before to strengthen my faith. I am most grateful for them all. That we humans are one with the cosmos—-or God in all the holy names given by different traditions—- gives me a sense of perspective. I am the same age as Matthew and do not expect to see any radical changes for the good, but with so many people praying and acting for the good, I have hope that it will prevail.

  9. Avatar

    Contemplating thus…I find myself in and of the Universal Loving Being…wondering:
    If our Dear Mother Earth “died”…and She left Her body and Her Spirit crossed the veiled threshold…

    O Wondrous Mystery…! “myself” cannot wrap my mind around this…this “idea”…only Love only Love only Love describes what i cannot put into even the profoundest of words…only Love only Love Loving Love Lovingly Love

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