All Saints' Day (All Hallows' Day, or "Hallowmas") is the day the Church remembers those who have died in the faith of Christ. It is traditionally celebrated on November 1, but is often observed on the first Sunday in November instead. These days it is most commonly known as Halloween, taken from All Hallows eve (or Hallow'even). It very easy in our modern culture to get lost in the secular rush of Halloween, costumes, and trick-or-treat to forget that there is a vital portion of the Church - those whom we love but can see no longer, that we must not forget.
This is not only a time to remember that there is a thin boundary, set between the living and the dead, it can be a time to contemplate that which is coming for all of us. I think that too often Christians think that Eternity is some spiritual existence, all fluffy white with harps and wings. But that doesn't seem to be what the Scriptures tell us.
Yes, there are countless billions before the Throne of God, the entire Communion of Saints. The vast, numberless throng from every nation, tribe, and people, standing before the Throne and the Lamb, clad in white robes, with palms in their hands. Christ, our Lady, the nine Choirs of Angels, Apostles and Prophets, the Martyrs in the crimson of their blood, and the white-robed Confessors- it is a glorious vision, but it is not yet the end.
It is part of our confession of the Incarnation, our belief that the Word was made flesh, that God enters this world as well as Heaven. He has redeemed us, and gives physicality to the Spirit. Where did we get the idea that our souls will drift off into some Eternal spiritual realm, while God destroys what remains of humanity and this world, in some horrendous cataclysm? The Scriptures teach, and from what we can see in the ancient Church, the Christian hope of eternity is immortality in our own fleshly bodies. We are to undergo a resurrection, like Jesus, the first fruits of that general rising to a new life, one that is worthy for both New Heaven and the New Earth.
Bp. N.T. Wright points out that the imagery of Revelation shows us that in the end, heaven and earth will somehow be reformed into a New Heaven and a New Earth. And we, far from becoming some nebulous ghostly figure, have a dynamic, physical, immortality ahead of us, and that now, in all the reality around us, we see is only a shadow of our future selves! I just can’t imagine what a world that would be, flooded in Uncreated Light, it truly makes this one pale in comparison.
Almighty God, as You have knit together Your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical Body of Your Son Christ our Lord, so we remember those who have already joined You. Give us grace so to follow these Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those inexpressible joys that You have prepared for those who truly love You; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.