How We’ve Misunderstood All Saints Day

Just as I believe many Christians misunderstood Samhain (let alone didn’t even know what it is), I think they also misunderstand All Saints Day. I know I sure did! I also think many Christians misunderstand the Catholic Church, but I’ll save that topic for another time. I know many Protestants carry a burden over the lives lost during the inquisition, but we can’t blame today’s Catholics for what some extremist Catholics did in the past. Just as we don’t blame today’s Protestants for burning innocent women as witches in the early years of America.  Hopefully, as the generations continue, they won’t look back at Westboro Baptist Church and think they were the leading Christian Church in America. It’s very important that we stand up for what we believe in and refute lies that misrepresent our faith.

Protestants often mistakenly accuse Catholics of rooting the Christian faith and practices in paganism. The truth is this:

  • The word ‘pagan’ simply meant ‘country-dweller’.
  • The Author and Finisher of our Faith is the Alpha and Omega, not a clergy who created traditions.

In the tradition of the Jews, anyone not born a Jew was considered a pagan. Since the Law was given to the Jews, it’s understandable that the country-dwellers had their own way of living life, complete with their own traditions and beliefs. As the Gospel was preached in these other regions the people would merge their former beliefs with new revelations of God’s love and forgiveness. Traditions don’t save us neither does continuing in traditions condemn us. 

{If Protestants wanted to abstain from anything ‘pagan’ in their services then they also would have to give up 11 am Sunday services, Sunday School, mid week service, heck the entire idea of a church building as well. Jesus made US, the people, into His temple}

The early disciples came upon a region of pagans (Gentiles) who came to believe in Christ and the disciples did not reprimand them for their traditions, practices, or beliefs other than an admonishment to abstain from polluted idols, strangled meat(and blood), and whoredom (Acts 15).

{Neither did they attack them with the Bible before they came to believe in Christ.}

The disciples let these communities grow by faith and trusted the Holy Spirit to guide them. Not every Christian in the world changes every aspect of their lives over night and some never change much at all. All our growth and change is in the hands of God and in how we respond to the Spirit speaking to us individually. What is ‘bad’ for some may not be ‘bad’ to others. We all grow at a different pace and should follow in the example of the apostles by being patient with one another while we grow.

candles for prayer by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

The apostle Paul said this;

Romans 14: 1-12 (ESV) {bold emphasis mine}

1As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confessb to God.”

12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

church altar by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Paul also goes onto to say;

Colossians 2:16-23 (ESV)  {bold emphasis mine}

16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,d puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”22(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

church stained glass windows by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

As a Christian walking by faith in the grace of God we need to remember that all things boil down to grace. Submitting ourselves to practicing or abstaining from traditions have nothing to do with walking by faith. We get far too distracted by whether someone is practicing religious things or abstaining from feasts, new moons, holidays etc. All of this quarreling does us no good at all and only further divides us from enjoying the Kingdom life Christ has brought to us. So I halted from the arguing over holidays and gave up my self righteous practices and abstinences so that I could come to understand others and enjoy loving them as God has ordained me to do.  So it’s with grace that I’m looking at observing my first All Saints Day.

I requested a simple explanation from a devout Catholic friend of mine and here was his response:

“All Saints Day is indeed a holy day of obligation in the Church (i.e. comparable to Sunday, when the faithful are required to attend Mass).  In the early Christian era, the believers who were martyred during eras of imperial persecution, or who otherwise lived a well-known life of sanctity, and died in the faith, were acknowledged as saints and their feast days in the Church liturgical calendar were usually celebrated on the days of their earthly death (i.e. in honor of the day they went to be with the Lord).  Some obvious examples include the Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29, generally considered to be day of Peter’s martyrdom under Emperor Nero in AD 67), or Saint Patrick (March 17, AD 493 – the first bishop sent by Rome to begin the evangelization of then-pagan Ireland in the 5th century).

 As the liturgical calendar began to fill over the centuries, and as the number of holy men and women who died in the faith grew, it became difficult to find specific days devoted to every deceased saint, including those whose sainthood is presently known only to the Lord.  So a feast was eventually established in the liturgical calendar to celebrate all the saints, both known and unknown.  This feast was promulgated in the Latin Church (Rome) for November 1 in the eighth century, and was fixed for the universal Church (Roman, Greek/Byzantine, Alexandrian, Chaldean, etc.) by Pope Gregory IV in the ninth century for the same date.  So both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches should still celebrate All Saints Day together, as may some of the first Reformation communities (perhaps the Anglicans/Episcopalians and Lutherans, but I’m not certain about this).
As for the celebration over the years, I would think that it has remained essentially the same from the beginning…the faithful would attend Mass or Divine Liturgy on All Saints Day, regardless of the day of the week, in honor of all the holy men and women who went before us.  The date was recognized as a civil holiday throughout Western Christendom by the medieval era, and in some countries, the state still does so (e.g. Spain, France and Germany).  Catholic schools and parish offices would be closed on this day for the celebration.  I know at our parish, we have four Masses celebrated during the liturgical day, including a vigil the night before on All Hallow’s Eve (October 31). “

church steeples by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

See what someone can learn by simply asking? So glad I did! I’m not a member of the Catholic Church, but I do believe the Church (as in the Body of Christ) is universal in nature. The members of the true Body live all over the world. We all have different perspectives on God, pieces to the puzzle if you will. Some day we’ll all see the much bigger picture of our glorious Lord, until then may we show grace and love to all our neighbors, whether they celebrate Samhain, All Saints Day, or even Halloween.
You can subscribe to my blog by email and follow me on my Facebook page to get updates to this series. I’ll be sharing more in depth on honoring Christ in the culture of Halloween in an upcoming post. If we’re going to be missionaries to the people around us then we had better be properly and graciously prepared for engaging in our culture. (Subscribers get my free Ebook, ‘Organic Living’, in the footer of their first delivery.)

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I’m Too Broken to Title This Post

Sweet friends, I have something I would like to share from a transparent heart. My soul has been heavy about something I’ve been seeing take place in the blogosphere that is deeply disturbing to me as a sister of faith. My heart is breaking over this issue and I felt it was time I share from the depths of my soul about it. I have written a little bit about it before, but with a different kind of practical boldness. This time I want to share from the brokenness of my heart. This isn’t so much in line with my 31 Days of Autumn, but maybe it can be. I think it’s time we look to make a change in the blogosphere. So keeping with the Autumn theme of ‘change’, I present this to you.

The scriptures are clear that we live in a new covenant, a covenant of grace. So I feel the best way to begin this post is with that grace that covers us all. Jesus measured up on our behalf, this is the simplicity of the Gospel. Sadly, there are many in the world today (as there were in his time on Earth) that seek to complicate things through vain traditions and doctrines of men. I openly confess that I wrestle with these same things and Jesus sent word that even the elect will be deceived. I don’t think any of us are fully immune to this world we live in.

Sisters, listen carefully. We have an incredible enemy in the world that wants us to feel overwhelmed, belittled, and flat out not good enough. It’s a travesty when our own sisters of the faith perpetuate that complexity and perversion of the Gospel onto one another. They verbally battle with each other, practice passive aggressive behavior, and drop whispering seeds of doubt while backbiting one another in a rat race of competition spawned by the green eyed serpent of jealousy. Just as that serpent wanted to be like the Most High God, bloggers want to be like the ‘most high bloggers’ and it’s toxic poison that sucks the life out of our community. We shouldn’t be putting anyone on a pedestal, nor should we want to be the person on a pedestal.

God is not going to hold our shortcomings against us. Jesus took it ALL to the cross, had our sin slaughtered through his body being broken and blood spilled, buried it in the grave and left it there as we resurrected with him. We were raised with him anew and all of our shortcomings (in the eyes of God) were permanently left in the dirt. Everything is forgiven and even buried in the depth of the sea, we just fail to see ourselves and one another as God sees us; this is the fleshly world we wrestle with.

It’s not easy to describe the problem without sounding condemning, but for you to understand the solution, you first need to know the problem. One of the most difficult things about this problem is pride. We’ve all been there and some bloggers might be battling that spiritual warfare as I type this. My heart is breaking over this. Our own sisters fly out to several types of conferences to learn how to better market their blogs, be better writers, learn how to deal with vendors and on the list goes. I’m NOT against this type of education. So please don’t assume I’m anti-blog-conference. I am PRO blog conferences. But as a Christian, I think we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones (including bloggy friends) to maintain balance in the Spirit.

The marketing aspect of the world is tough business. It really is a dog-eat-dog world and it is not of His Kingdom. Yes, we live in both kingdoms, His spiritual Kingdom and the world’s kingdom. We have dual citizenship, but being a dual citizen requires wisdom and grace to remain as balanced as possible, because while we know our sin was nailed to the cross and we resurrected with Christ, we’re still fallible in our skin and bones.

I have witnessed several different blog conference attendees’ live tweets over the last several years and every time I feel the same way: discouraged. I understand they are small 140 character phrases tweeted out. Several bloggers from the conference sitting in they’re seats, in a live audience, and those phrases probably sound smart. My question is, are they wise and grace filled? What are those tweets and Facebook statuses telling us?

I’d like to focus in on one concept that came across my feed: it was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I’m not going to give you the exact quote, because I don’t want this to be about the person who sent it out or the man who spoke it, as I am certain there was more context to it than what I read. I’m certain they didn’t mean it the way I took it. At least, I hope not. I’ll just give you my response to the short status:

“Relationships are not currency in any way, shape, or form.. to honor them you’ll treat them like the unique individuals they are and not worry about how much you can get from them in return. If anyone ever treats me like I’m the “new currency” they’ll be dishonoring my worth and showing me their ignorance regarding what a relationship really is.” ~Lisa

The opposite of my response is what the original quote seemed to be indicating. People are seen as  ‘the new currency’ and the speaker was teaching these bloggy sisters that they need to ‘begin measuring their return on the relationship’. Really? Is this what we’re reduced to? Currency? What they can GET out of us?

Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled for anyone who can make a buck, especially in this economy, but not while placing our sisters on the altar as a sacrifice for the cash. It’s important to know the difference between recognizing a person’s talents and how they utilize those talents, and recognizing one another’s worth and value in Christ. We’re all equal in the Body and stand on level ground at the foot of the cross. We each have different talents and skills that can be viewed equally yet different, but just because a person can’t give you the return you want doesn’t make them less valuable as a person. For as soon as we start judging people based on what we can get from them, then bloggers will fall victim to competing to get that person’s partnership, thus causing more division in the relationships.

I read bloggers’ articles that hail the power of relationships, but I rarely read exactly how they value their relationships, nurture them, and build a community to lift up people. Most of the time it’s all about the money, the numbers, the subscription count, and how much influence they can get over their readers to get them to buy products. We fall victim to pushing  people aside to get to other people; walking all over one another to get to the top of the ladder.

It’s called, ‘selling out’.

Then again, there are some business bloggers out there who are building their blogs into DIY mini mags or recipe blogs specifically for starting their own business or perhaps be able to publish a cookbook someday. More power to them! These kinds of blogs are business blogs through and through. They need to run those blogs like a business.

However, we also have these relationship blogs that claim to be about you (us) and our relationships, either with family and friends and/or God. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up ads and making some money, if your blog is ready for that.

So please keep in mind that I’m not condemning success, what I am concerned about is being viewed as, and believed to be, a number rather than a person. Furthermore, I’m concerned about how this is affecting our community of faith. It’s already bad enough that so many men in the world view women as objects instead of as people.  On top of all this is my concern about how our words negatively affect one another.

I know each blog is someone’s unique online space and they can write whatever they want. It’s their freedom and I would never try to diminish that freedom. I just felt it might be time that I share how some of those words affect me.  Those words that many bloggers think they are free to make may not realize how it  makes their readers feel, and yes they talk about it. It’s not gossip when a sister calls or Skypes another sister when they experience grief. It’s permissible to share your hearts with each other and there will be times when names are mentioned and links are sent across cyber space. Sometimes words come across as death.

People have the freedom to blog what they want and people have the freedom to confess sadness when they want, but are we (as sisters in the faith) using wisdom and grace in this endeavor? Do we forget that the reader on the other end of the screen has read along with your blog for several years, prays for you, and considers you to be their friend before you proclaim that your online friends are not ‘real friends’? Do we really stop to think about how the audience will feel when we ‘blog what we want’?

Do we think we’re better Christians when we tell everyone else they need to get off the Internet, when bloggers say you aren’t “right with God”.   That you’re not ‘right with God’ because you’re investing time in your blog as a business? Are we truly encouraging one another in the faith when we create pointed fingers out of our words to nag someone into condemnation for not spending ‘enough’ time with their families? You don’t know how much time people spend with their families and while you may think you have spent too much time online, it doesn’t mean everyone else sits in the same boat that you do. Besides, what is it that is causing women bloggers to write like that? Have they forgotten their redemption was paid in full? Jesus already made us right with God.

I don’t have a homemaker’s recipe for the toxicity that is plaguing our community. Each person is unique, with their own struggles, all viewing the world through fallible eyes and hearts that yearn for perfection. I do know that we need wisdom, grace, humility, and forgiveness in different portions; suitable for each individual situation.

I realize there are times when we each feel like we need to disconnect from the Internet, from work, from television, and sometimes even from churches so we can go spend some time enjoying life with our families. I am pro family! I love nature. I work hard to get out of the house, away from blogging, and ditch technology as much as I can so I can live organically; but I don’t have to give up the things that I enjoy doing. I think what we need is a bit of balance, but swinging too the far left or right extreme isn’t healthy for us or our loved ones.

I’ve been one of those bloggers that runs to their blog’s log in page with a hot temper and a piece of my mind without thinking about how my words will be received. I’m pretty sure, if we’re all honest with ourselves, we will see that each one of us has done this before and maybe you’ve been one of those readers who received some words that hurt you. I have faith that none of us ever wish for others in our community to be hurt. I think it happens accidentally…most of the time. For whatever things I may have quickly posted, that felt like a knife wound to you, I’m truly sorry.

Women battle enough enemies in this world as it is. Maybe we can work together to build a community of support where each person is highly valued as the Children of God that they are. We could be working together to build one another up.  Let me explain it like this: I would rather my ‘return on the relationship’ be the bubbling up of joy from within myself knowing I lifted others up, than for the return to merely be what they can give me. This is a philosophy I have developed in my life. A philosophy of letting others shine instead of trying to find ways to use others to make myself shine. Can’t we all shine together?

Instead of pushing away people we don’t think are worth our time, lets lift them up and put them where they can shine, be valued, and be appreciated for who they are. Lets support one another by providing an environment where our sisters can thrive in the gifts they do have.

Everyone is valuable and very much worth our investment. 

lady and cat by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Courageously participating in Life Unmasked with Joy.

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We Could Be Resting All Along

Something I’ve been meditating on…

rest by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

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