All Souls’ Day meditation

Central Minnesota is a good place to celebrate All Souls’ Day. By November, the oaks are newly stripped bare, leaving the evergreens standing puzzled and bereft. “Where is my neighbor, my sister, my friend? She has gone where I cannot follow.”

The grass is frosted, but the sun, hot and hard, seems to promise more the eschatological spring than the distant approach of another Minnesota April.

I, too, am feeling a bit bare at this time of the season, but today I am content. I want only to be renewed in the image of Christ. Lord, come quickly!

Lord, hold in your hand the people you created in your love. May we and they be granted the peace that comes only in your presence, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


  1. Weep you no more, sad fountains;
    What need you flow so fast?
    Look how the snowy mountains
    Heaven’s sun doth gently waste!
    But my Sun’s heavenly eyes
    View not your weeping,
    That now lies sleeping
    Softly, now softly lies

    Sleep is a reconciling,
    A rest that peace begets;
    Doth not the sun rise smiling
    When fair at even he sets?
    Rest you then, rest, sad eyes!
    Melt not in weeping,
    While she lies sleeping
    Softly, now softly lies

    Anonymous, 13th c. (England)
    -John Dowland’s Third Book of Ayres

    [Just sharing a favorite All Souls poem.]

  2. Lord, have mercy upon us.
    Christ, have mercy upon us.
    Lord, Have mercy upon.

    Our Father . . .

    V. And lead us not into temptation.
    R. But deliver us from evil.
    V. From the gate of hell.
    R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
    V. May they rest in peace.
    R. Amen.
    V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
    R. And let me cry come unto thee.
    V. The Lord be with you.
    R. And with thy spirit.

    Let us pray.
    Absolve, O Lord, we beseech thee, the souls of thy servants and handmaids from every bond of sin, that in the glory of the resurrection the may be raised up amid thy saints and elect unto the newness of life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
    R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
    V. May they rest in peace.
    R. Amen.

    (from Absolution at the catafalque)

  3. My wife, who is Roman Catholic, comes from a country (Poland) that has a strong tradition of celebrating All Saints Day. It was one of the few feasts that the communists wouldn’t mess with! On that day, going to the family grave and spending time there, sometimes even with food, was an extremely important tradition.
    We do not have any family here in the Twin Cities. No graves to visit. So to honor that tradition in her family, we decided we would still go and visit a grave. And so, with our children, we take candles and some food and visit the graves of Warren and Dagmar Quanbeck – making them adopted family! Warren Quanbeck was a professor at Luther Seminary. He died relatively young in 1979. He is known as the “running Luther” for his vision and dedication to the church. In the 1950’s he began taking students to St. John’s Collegeville and starting an ecumenical dialogue with the brothers (pre-Vatican II). He believed deeply and firmly in ecumenism. He was named one of the Lutheran observers at Vatican II. Currently, I have a doctoral student doing his research on Quanbeck and the captivating connection between Luther Seminary and St John’s. This student has just completed an annotated bibliography of Quanbeck’s archives (there were piles and piles of boxes in our archives including many notes that he took while attending the Council). Praise be God for the witness of Warren and Dagmar!

    1. Dirk, what a lovely story of ecumenical blending. I was privileged to visit the Collegeville cemetery today where we had a prayer service as well.

      I’m glad that remembering our dead together can help us grow closer.

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