The Collect for All Saints’ Day: “O Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” ~ The Book of Common Prayer, 1928
For most of my life, I have not much cared for Halloween. I dressed up and went trick-or-treating as a small child, but by the time I was in my teens, my family had followed the example of many conservative Evangelicals in our community and given up the holiday. To this day, I think much of the ghoulish aesthetic is contrary to the telos of Christianity.
This year, the holiday has taken on new significance to me, however. I have been dabbling in higher church traditions for the past couple years, but for the last nine months I have been falling into the rhythm of the Anglican Way. So today, along with thousands of other Anglicans worldwide, I am remembering in my prayers that cloud of witnesses that has gone before me.
As providence would have it, I read this morning about the importance of Christian saints modeling the faith. In J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom’s Guard Us, Guide Us, they write that models incarnate virtues in ways that make them meaningful:
Models will enlarge our vision. They will enable us to grasp more clearly the moral and spiritual ideals which have always been held in high regard among Christians but which we ourselves never really appreciated. Abstract ideals, however noble, rarely come alive in our minds until we see them being lived out. (167)
Today, I am especially thankful for those Saints who have shown me the way — those who speak to me in books even a hundred years old, and those who speak to me face-to-face each day.