simple white fading png image
notre dame montreal Lectionary Worship Resources

Worship Resources, Prayers, Bible Study

All Saints - Year A


All Saints Introduction

This was one of John Wesley's favourite services of the Christian Year and it is today for many Christians. The church has always celebrated and remembered the lives of great Christians, especially those who have been heroes and martyred for their faith. However it is not just the special Christians with X Factor that we remember, we give thanks for all who have died.

All Saints - 1 November Principal Feast, Gold or White, it may be celebrated on the Sunday falling between 30 October and 5

Opening Verses of Scripture Psalm 90:14

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who ear Him, and he delivers them.


Collect Prayer for the Day — Before we read we pray

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow 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 your Son our Lord. CW

God of holiness, your glory is proclaimed in every age: as we rejoice in the faith of your saints, inspire us to follow their example with boldness and joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. CW

Eternal God, giver of love and peace, you call your children to live together as one family. Give us grace to learn your ways and do your will, that we may bring justice and peace to all people; in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen


First Bible Reading  Revelation Chapter 7: 9-17

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’NRSV

Second Reading  1 John 3: 1-3

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. NRSV

Gospel Reading  Mathew 5: 1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and hirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” NRSV

Post Communion Sentence

God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things: may we who have shared at this table as strangers and pilgrims here on earth be welcomed with all your saints to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. CW
 

Commentary

In 835 Pope Gregory IV ordered the Feast of All Saints to be observed today on November 1. The day after All Hallows (saints) Eve, Halloween. The word Hallow means 'Holy', (blessed, consecrated or set apart in a special way) and so 'All-Hallows' or 'All Saints' refers to the Saints—the Holy Ones. October 31 has Celtic origins being originally the feast of Sanhain/Samhain,(pronounced 'sow'inn) the last night of the Celtic year, when all kinds of spirits were thought to be active. The Celts believed that this was a time when the boundary between the spirit world and the earthly world is at its thinnest and when spirits are most likely to be seen on earth. It was a night of danger signifying the change from Autumn to Winter, it was a night when feasts were held for the dead and animals killed for the Winter.

This was one of John Wesley's favourite services of the Christian Year and it is today for many Christians. The church has always celebrated and remembered the lives of great Christians, especially those who have been heroes and martyred for their faith. However it is not just the special Christians with X Factor that we remember, we give thanks for all who have died. Some Christians are cautious about the whole thing, especially the superstitions and relics that have grown up around the lives of some well known saints. Some Christians recoil with horror at the thought of worshipping or praying to the saints, but few would deny that the lives of great Christians can inspire veneration or respect and their memories should be honoured.
Many people know about the saints which are canonised by the Pope of Roman Catholic Church.

These are people who conform to specific criteria. They must have theological soundness, extreme holiness, and there must miracles attributed to them. For me this is way too institutionalised and of course the more we look into the lives of saints the more we recognise that they are flawed individuals just like us. It was Martin Luther who said that we are all saint and sinner at the same time. I much prefer to think of all Christians as saints, joined on a pilgrimage of serving God. We do well to honour those whose lives provide a template for our own, whilst recognising that there is good and bad in each of us. (cf. Hebrews 13:7). Hebrews 6:12 commands us to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” These are Christians whose good examples remind us of what we can be at our best. The stories of their lives remind us of what we believe, and what we can become. They give us courage, strengthen us to do God’s will, and lead the way. If we know of their faults then it even more inspire us to know that God works in extraordinary ways even with very ordinary human beings.

The Saints also remind us that we are not alone in our Christian journey. The Apostle Paul said that he was surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1), who cheer me on to “run with endurance the race that is set before me.” Many Christians experience a strong sense that the saints are still with us, and that they watch over us and pray to God for us. The Collect Prayer from Methodist Worship today expresses the idea of knowing their fellowship with us. We remember the Church not just as those who are living but also those who have died, they are just as much the church as we are and the Christian Church has two names for this, those who are living are called the church militant, and those have died are called the church triumphant. Today we celebrate saints known to us as well as those celebrated throughout the ages. These are the great cloud of witnesses whose lives, known to millions or to only a few, became a window through which shone upon us the multi coloured grace and love of God. Charles Royden
 

Meditation

Who is in the Communion of Saints?

As early as the second century, Christians gathered for worship at the tombs of the martyrs, celebrating the power of God’s grace in the lives of these faithful men and women. From this came the early understanding that the phrase ‘the Communion of Saints’ referred to the enduring bond between the faithful on earth and the faithful who had gone before, especially those whose witness was crowned with martyrdom. While all Christians are properly called saints, the word “saint” soon became a title of honour referring to exemplary lives among the faithful, and most notably the lives of martyrs. The celebration of saints as we know it (i.e. those who served God but died in the faith rather than for the faith) comes later, about the 7th century. Egbert of York brought the festival to England and by the 9th century it had become a major feast in the church calendar in England. Today, we continue to celebrate a Communion of Saints that embraces all Christians, past present and future; including those whose lives are not necessarily like us, or whose lives are not notably marked by saintliness! ‘We live among saints but saints are not perfect. Their weaknesses and strengths are woven into our own’. But together we are part of that great community God calls His saints.
Sam Cappleman

Beato Daniele D'UngrispachDaniele D'Ungrispach

Daniele D'Ungrispach
I visited the Basilica of Saints Mary and Donatus recently in Murano in (Venice) Italy and and was surprised to see a glass case to the side of the altar. It contained the body of Daniele D'Ungrispach who was born in Cormons in 1344. He was born into a noble family and conducted a lucrative business trading in fabrics between Venice and Pordenone. He was noted for living a spiritual life of charity and compassion towards the poor and he spent time in the monastery of the Camaldolese Monks of San Mattia. He married Orsina Ricchieri of the most powerful family of Pordenone and had a daughter Lucia. He was known to be honest and trustworthy and became a judge, but he was always drawn to the hermitic life and a desire for piety and penance. In 1384 he withdrew to the monastery but continued some civic duties to support the monks and the poor.

He was murdered in 1411, strangled in the night in the monastery by assassins (see picture overleaf). His dead body was laid to rest in the monastery of St Mattia of Murano but in 1435 when the tomb was opened many years later, his body was pronounced incorruptible, fresh and fragrant. Writings of the time say that a strong scent of flowers came over the island of Murano and extended to Venice.
Now all of this is a bit shocking for us. I cannot imagine what people would think if they saw a dead body in a glass case when they came forward for communion in our churches. However there are important things to learn from our Christian brothers and sisters who have venerated Daniele D'Ungrispach and others throughout Christian history. They remind us that we live in a continuous line of Christians who have witnessed to our faith since the death and resurrection of our Lord. We are also reminded that they have not disappeared but are with us today. The physical remains of their earthly life remind us of their ongoing spiritual presence, for they enjoy the promise of immortal life made by Jesus and are present with us today.
There is also another important reason to remember them and it is perhaps more important today than it has ever been. We are constantly bombarded by fresh information which lays bare the wickedness of human behaviour and undermines our confidence in humanity and ourselves. Even saints are sinners but they remind us to aspire to be the best that we can be. As Christians we are bonded together as the Body of Christ and that union transcends time and includes those who rest in the presence of our God. Daniele D'Ungrispach was noted to be a wealthy man who gave up his wealth out of compassion for the poor and love of God. That is a model for each one of us and the presence of his dead body encourages us like him to lead spirit filled lives with compassion for the poor. That is one reason why I am pleased to have visited this holy place. Charles Royden

Beato Daniele d'Ungrispach
as judge

Beato Daniele d'Ungrispach
to the monastery in Murano

Beato Daniele d'Ungrispach
murdered in the monastery
beato daniele d'ungrispach as judge beato daniele d'ungrispach goes to the monastery beato daniele d'ungrispach killed

 

Hymns

  1. Lo, round the throne, a glorious
  2. Behold the amazing gift of love
  3. Blest are the pure in heart
  4. Bright the vision that delighted
  5. Come let us join
  6. For all the saints who from
  7. For all the saints (alternative text)
  8. For all thy saints, O Lord
  9. Give me the wings of faith to rise
  10. Hark! the sound of holy voices
  11. Help us, O Lord, to learn
  12. How blest the poor who love the Lord
  13. Let saints on earth in concert sing
  14. Ye watchers and ye holy ones
  15. O heavenly Jerusalem
  16. O what their joy and their glory
  17. Seek ye first the kingdom of God
  18. Show me thy ways, O Lord
  19. Sing we the song of those who stand
  20. Ten thousand times ten thousand
  21. There is a land of pure delight
  22. Through all the changing scenes of
  23. Who are these, like stars appearing
  24. Who would true valour see
  25. He who would valiant be
  26. Jerusalem the golden
     

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian, if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die.

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us make our prayer in the power of the Spirit, looking to Jesus the pioneer of our faith.

That with the noble fellowship of the prophets we may discern the signs of your kingdom in our midst, we pray to you, O Lord: R

That with the glorious company of the apostles we may proclaim your gospel throughout the world, we pray to you, O Lord: R

That with the white-robed army of martyrs we may be ready to suffer for the truth’s sake, we pray to you, O Lord: R

That with all who are anointed by your Spirit we may bring good news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed, we pray to you, O Lord: R

That with the saints in light we may bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all who mourn, we pray to you, O Lord: R

That within the whole company of Christ’s pilgrim people we may come to the inheritance of the saints in glory, we pray to you, O Lord: R

In communion with all the saints, let us commend the world to the mercy and protection of God.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer

Loving God - meet us here and make your word live in us. Remind us, O Lord, of the cloud of witnesses that surround us and help us to follow their example. Help us to lay aside every weight, and the sin that clings so closely, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Make us, like all the saints before us - a people who are eager to share your love with those that are far off and those that are near. Guide us, we pray, by the power of your Holy Spirit as we worship and serve you -- both in this hour, and in all the hours to come. We ask it in the name of Christ Jesus - our brother and our Lord.

God of the ages: We praise you for all your servants who have done justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with you. We praise you O God for all apostles and martyrs and saints of every time and place, who in life and death have witnessed to your truth and love. We praise you, O God for all those who answered your call to preach the Good News of the Gospel and to administer your Sacraments of grace and love, and for those who devoted their lives to teaching your Word and sharing the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures with others whether it be at home or in foreign lands...,
We praise you, O God for those who showed compassion to the least, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and offering mercy and forgiveness to those who have gone astray. We praise you, O Go for those who were willing to lose their lives in service to others, caring for the sick, comforting the dying, visiting the lonely, consoling those in grief, We praise you, O God, and we especially honour the memory of those individuals of this congregation who have lived among us and shared their faith in personal ways, who have finished the race and now reign on high with you.
In addition O God, we honour the memory of those who have graced our lives at other times and in other ways - those whose names we lift up before you in our hearts now. In particular, we lift up before you with gratitude and thanksgiving:

We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you
Whether in brush arbours or cathedrals,
Weathered wooden churches or crumbling cement meeting houses
Where your name was lifted and adored.

We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise: 
Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil,
Strong hands and those gnarled with age
Holy hand, Used as wave offerings across the land.

We thank you, God, for hardworking saints; Whether hard-hatted or steel-booted, 
Head ragged or aproned,
Blue-collared or three-piece-suited They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come. Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.
Bless the memories of your saints, God. May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.

Additional Material

Who is in the Communion of Saints?
As early as the second century, Christians gathered for worship at the tombs of the martyrs, celebrating the power of God’s grace in the lives of these faithful men and women. From this came the early understanding that the phrase ‘the Communion of Saints’ referred to the enduring bond between the faithful on earth and the faithful who had gone before, especially those whose witness was crowned with martyrdom. While all Christians are properly called saints, the word “saint” soon became a title of honour referring to exemplary lives among the faithful, and most notably the lives of martyrs. The celebration of saints as we know it (i.e. those who served God but died in the faith rather than for the faith) comes later, about the 7th century. Egbert of York brought the festival to England and by the 9th century it had become a major feast in the church calendar in England. Today, we continue to celebrate a Communion of Saints that embraces all Christians, past present and future; including those whose lives are not necessarily like us, or whose lives are not notably marked by saintliness! ‘We live among saints but saints are not perfect. Their weaknesses and strengths are woven into our own’. But together we are part of that great community God calls His saints.

The inextricable link between holiness and the Communion of Saints
All Saints' Day is also known as All Hallows' Day, hallow meaning to make holy, consecrate and honour. The theme of God’s holiness permeates the entire Bible and as human beings we are invited to participate in the holiness of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. To be holy is to participate in the holiness of Jesus who is “the way, the truth, and the life”. The Communion of Saints, the communio sanctorum, implies, first of all, communion, communion with Christ and through Him and the power of the Holy Spirit, communion and a relationship with our God, who is all holy.

Our own holiness starts then with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the mediator of all holiness. Our holiness also entails being in communion, part of our journey with one another and all the saints who have gone before us. Holiness therefore implies relationships; relationships which sometimes make it feel like it’s very difficult to be holy! But however challenging some of our relationships seem, it’s impossible to be in communion alone. God’s own holiness is part of being in communion, a communion of Father, Son, and Spirit dwelling together in love. To enter into a relationship with God is to enter into a relationship with all who share in that same fellowship of God; past, present and future. Jut as we are called into a relationship with God, we are called into a relationship with each other, the Communion of Saints, the Priesthood of all believers.

Our relationship and fellowship with Christ and with one another will never be complete in this life, but is emphasised and strengthened as we together draw closer to him and to one another, and will be perfected in eternity. Together we are in union and communion with all the faithful saints, and as Christians we are called to live out that unity and communion, whatever our denomination or race or background. One of the statements from the Second Vatican council expressed this unity and communion as ‘…that among all the nations of earth there is but one People of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly and not an earthly nature. For all the faithful scattered throughout the world are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit.’ We live in faith with all those who have gone before us, we, like they are on a journey of faith, a pilgrimage which leads to God. Jesus takes us as we are, with all our diverse backgrounds, perspectives and relationships, takes us even though we often feel far from holy, and, invites us to be holy, as He is holy, and to join with Him in the communion of saints.

Our Holy Communion links our holiness, our sainthood, to our daily experience. We start the Eucharist with contrite hearts, confess our sins, receive God’s forgiveness and pray the Kyrie Eleison. We listen to the words of scripture from the bible and through the sermon. We confess our faith and give thanks to God in prayers and intercessions. We receive from God the body and blood of Jesus and together are sent out with the task of renewing the earth. Communion is not the end but the beginning of mission, mission as a Community of Saints, made whole and made holy through God and His gifts. Sam Cappleman

 

The last day of October marks the beginning in the church of a period known as Hallowtide 'All Saintstide' when Christian remember those who have died. All-Hallows Eve, or Halloween, October 31 has Celtic origins being originally the feast of Sanhain/Samhain,(pronounced 'sow'inn) the last night of the Celtic year, when all kinds of spirits were thought to be active. The Celts believed that this was a time when the boundary between the spirit world and the earthly world is at its thinnest and when spirits are most likely to be seen on earth. It was a night of danger signifying the change from Autumn to Winter, it was a night when feasts were held for the dead and animals killed for the Winter. On this night fires were lit in the belief that light had power over darkness, hence pumpkin lanterns to frighten away witches and ghosts. When the Romans invaded Britain they included elements of their harvest celebrations in which they honoured the goddess of the fruits of trees, Pomona. Children still play games with apples at this time of year.
So when did Sanhain become Halloween? By the 9th century Christianity had spread into Celtic lands and the celebration became known as the Eve of All Hallows and eventually Halloween.

All Saints Day, (All Hallows) November 1
The word Hallow means 'Holy', (blessed, consecrated or set apart in a special way) and so 'All-Hallows' or 'All Saints' refers to the Saints—the Holy Ones. Those who died for their faith or who lived extraordinary lives. This day dates back to the 5th century Antioch in Syria when the church dedicated a day to the memory of all those who had been killed for their faith. Until then the church had remembered martyrs on special days of the year, but there became more martyrs than days in the year, and there were some whose names were not known. In Rome Boniface IV (608-615) had relics of martyrs moved from the catacombs to the Pantheon. In 835 the 1st of November was given the title 'All Saints.'
St. Martin of Tours is represented by a cloak which he cut in half to give to a shivering beggar
Catherine of Alexandria is shown with a spiked wheel
St. Sebastian usually holds an arrow—as a reminder of the terrible methods of their respective martyrdoms.
The saints are our ancestors on earth and precede us in heaven. Many Christians experience a strong sense that the saints are still with us, and that they watch over us and pray to God for us. The prayer from Methodist Worship at the bottom of this page expresses the idea of knowing their fellowship with us. Although dead, they are members of Christ's Church and we use this day to give thanks for the lives of all the saints as they are examples to us. Saints are created as signs of hope, that the gospel really can change lives. Somebody is not made a saint at canonisation, it is rather an acknowledgement that somebody was a saint and is therefore in heaven and not neglectful of the needs of the world, through the communion of saints.

All Souls Day, November 2
In the New Testament, 'saint' is often used to describe all those who are followers of Christ, the people called to holiness in him. Not just those who were extra-specially good. So does this apply to Christians now? Are all saints? The answer must be Yes! So on this day we pray not just for those who have been specially recognised as Saints, but for all of our loved ones. In 1048 Odilo, the Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery at Cluny near Paris instructed his monks to use this day as a day of remembrance and prayer for all the departed, this day was made official in the 14C.
In the Christian Church we remember the Church not just as those who are living but also those who have died, they are just as much the church as we are and the Christian Church has two names for this, those who are living are called the church militant, and those have died are called the church triumphant.

This time of year is an important time to cherish the memory of those who have died and who have gone before us. As we celebrate their memory we can know and be glad that they share with us in Christ's eternal kingdom. People find the whole idea of death difficult and to have a special day to remember those who have died is not an easy thing for some people. At this time in the year of the church we can really think and speak about those who have died and not in hushed tones. We can remember and feel our loss. We celebrate the lives of those whom we have known and love and we pray for their peace.


Holy God you have called witnesses from every nation and revealed your glory in their lives. Grant us the same faith and love that, following their example,
we may be sustained by their fellowship and rejoice in their triumph; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Methodist Worship)

All Saints’ Sunday

All Saints’ and preparing for the season of Advent belong together, as the celebration of All Saints’ reminds us of the judgement of God. The Saints who stand before the throne of glory have also stood before the throne of judgement. Whilst we sometimes think of Saints in terms of spiritual giants who lived many years ago, the biblical understanding of a Saint is someone whom God has sanctified and made holy. For the Old Testament people of God, this meant belonging to God’s Chosen People, the Jews, to be a son of Abraham as Jesus puts it in the Gospel reading. For New Testament believers and beyond, it means belonging to the Body of Christ, a people made holy through Jesus’ sacrifice - and being a Saint has implications as to the way we live our lives. ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light - 1 Peter 2 v 9. As Christians we are both caught up in "so great a cloud of witnesses," whilst also watching, waiting, for the coming again of Christ, when all things shall be gathered up into the Kingdom of God. All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, as hallow means to make holy, to consecrate or to honour, and it’s from the name All Hallows' that we derive Hallowe'en (the Eve of All Hallows). Throughout the year the church commemorates specific saints, but on 1st November we commemorate and celebrate all saints and thus God's mercy and love for us too. This celebration of saints started around the the 8th century when Pope Boniface IV designated 1st November as All Saints' Day to specifically honour those saints that didn't have a special day of their own. By the 9th century it had become a major feast in the church calendar in England and continues today. Although All Saints Day is actually 1st November, the church celebrates All Saints’ Sunday today. In England "All Saints" is the second most popular dedication of English churches with over 1250 churches dedicated to All Saints. All Souls' Day, also known as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, comes the day after All Saints’ Day. This day provides an opportunity to commemorate "those we have loved but see no longer” and recognises the pain of human grief and fragility in a way that an All Saints' Day celebration cannot. It is for this reason that we always have a special service of commemoration of the faithful departed at this time of year. Our service will take place at 3.00pm on 14 November at St Mark’s Church. Sam Cappleman

Meditation

Mark Twain is supposed to have said,
"It's not what I don't understand about the bible that bothers me, but what I do understand."
The teachings of Jesus are remarkable for their simplicity and perhaps no more so than when Jesus tells us that to love God with all of our heart soul and mind is the greatest and first commandment. Jesus' teaching today is straight forward and we require reminding rather than explanation of what he means. God should be the goal of our deepest love and this should not deprive our other loves of intimacy or importance.
Rather since we define ourselves by who and what we love, our souls are enriched or diminished by the objects of our affection. To love God and concern ourselves with loving God above all things keeps our lives in perspective, it also enriches us above all things. We become more in the image of God, the more we love God. It is therefore true that our devotion to God brings quality to the other loves in our life, which are inevitably deepened as we learn more of what it is to love and be loved by God.