By Sister Mary Core, OSB
On November 1, we celebrate All Saints Day, a celebration for all the saints in heaven, including those who aren’t recognized on the liturgical calendar.
They include both those we do and those we don’t know.
Our community saints are all gold-leafed on our chapel Memorial Wall.
We state in the Creed that we believe in the communion of saints. That communion includes us!
Here at the monastery, we celebrate All Saints Day with a recitation of all our deceased Sisters during Vespers.
We recite their names by the month and year in which they died.
As we begin each month, a new Sister comes forward to place a vigil light in front of the Memorial Wall. So at the end of the recitation, we have 12 candles burning.
The candles – which burn for 7 days – join any candles that still are burning for those who have died recently. (Funeral candles burn for 30 days.)
All Saints Day is when we pray to those who have gone before us.
All Souls Day is when we pray for our deceased loved ones. Our tradition is to say the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be in honor of one for whom you wish to pray.
When we were kids, we received special permission to duck into the church whenever we had free time during the day on All Souls Day to pray.
Some days I spent all my free time in the church. I’d say the 3 prayers, walk outside, remember someone else I should pray for and go back in. This went on and on!
In the afternoon of All Souls Day, we go to the cemetery and walk slowly around our Sisters’ graves.
(The stone you see above is nestled amid our Sisters’ graves. Saints Scholastica and Benedict grace one side of it, and the other holds the names of those Sisters who died and were buried in Nauvoo.)
It’s a very prayerful and special time. Afterwards, we’ll pray to the Blessed Mother to watch over us.
Both days can be deeply moving and special … they sure are here at St. Mary Monastery.