Planning in advance for Sunday, 1st November, All Saints Day.
When I travelled to Finland with others from the Diocese in 2017, I observed their All Saints Day traditions with great interest. On All Saint’s Day,(which the Finns always celebrate as a national holiday on the nearest Saturday) Finnish people (who are for the most part Lutherans) visit their local graveyards and lay greenery and candles on the graves of their loved ones. The Diocesan group were travelling 160km from the city of Tampere to the city of Turku on Saturday 4th November, the ‘official’ All Saints Day that year, and from our minibus we could see many, many clusters of what seemed like thousands of little lights shining through the darkness. We stopped on our journey at one graveyard where our Finnish hosts allowed us the opportunity to lay candles on a special gravestone to the ‘unknown’ which each graveyard keeps specifically for strangers passing through so that they too can honour their dead loved ones (see photo below). At the time I found it very moving and I felt that this was something that might be worth doing in Carrigaline Union at some stage. This year, with so many people not being able to be at the funeral service of those they loved AND the fact that All Saint’s Day falls on a Sunday, I felt that this idea from Finland might be something I could incorporate into our liturgy.
The Diocesan Group in the Finnish Graveyard in November 2017
So, on Sunday 1st November , as part of the live streamed Service, I will light some candles which afterwards I will lay out in the graveyard in memory of all those people who have gone before us. If you would like me to remember someone , please do let me know the name before teatime on Saturday 31st (Halloween). I myself will be remembering my brother-in-law Sean who died during the summer, along with others from our parish community like Jean Withrington who died in March and whom we never had the chance to remember in a church service and even in the wider community, I will be remembering Barry Collins, as along with many of you, I would like to have attended his funeral. I know from talking to many of you that you too have experienced the pain of not being able to properly say goodbye. In Ireland we are used to having big funerals, where we get the chance to remember with gratitude the life of the person who has died. The Pandemic has robbed us of this and I hope next Sunday will give us a chance to remember with gratitude the people we loved who are no longer with us. As I said, please do send me in names.