The Octave of All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Day (November 1) is the Church’s yearly commemoration of all Saints, known and unknown. The word “saint” simply means “holy one.” An author unremembered to me once remarked that “Sainthood is the vocation (calling) of every human being.” As creatures created in the image of God, all of us, in Jesus Christ, are called to live lives of holiness and virtue in pursuit of the end of beholding the Beatific Vision.

All Saints’ Day, being one of the Church’s principal feast days, is extended to an octave – meaning it is commemorated not only on the feast day itself, but for seven days after, for a total of eight days. This extension of All Saints’ Day to an octave has its origins in the catholic roots of our Anglican practice, and is specifically directed by the rubric on page 256 in the Book of Common Prayer. The Octave of All Saints’ includes All Souls’ Day (the commemoration of all faithful departed) on November 2, a day on which prayers for the repose of the souls of all the faithful are offered. All Saints’ Day has also historically been preceded by a vigil, a day of fasting and preparation for a major feast day. (See, for example, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, considered the pinnacle of the Prayer Book tradition in global Anglicanism.) During the 20th century, the observance of vigils faded away in the practice of the Western Church, the vigils often being replaced with anticipations of the feast days themselves, fasting being replaced with feasting.

This year at Mariners’ we are observing:

  • The Vigil of All Saints’ Day, during our regularly scheduled Holy Communion service on October 31,
  • All Saints’ Day itself on November 1 (Holy Communion at 12:10), and,
  • The Octave, by using the All Saints’ Day propers (BCP 256-257) during our Sunday worship on November 3. The Octave of All Saints’ is also a particularly special season for baptisms, and so it is a delight that we will be administering the Sacrament of Holy Baptism to Brendan George Liebmann during our 11 a.m. Holy Communion.
  • We will continue by commemorating Willibrord, Bishop and Confessor, during our regularly scheduled Holy Communion service on Thursday, November 7, (12:10 p.m.) whose feast day is on that day.
  • Finally, while not part of the Octave, but consistent with the seasonal themes of this time (especially All Souls’ Day), we will have our annual Great Lakes Memorial Service on Sunday, November 10, at 11 a.m.

The Propers (Collect, Epistle and Gospel) for All Saints’ and its Vigil focus on the state of blessedness, reading in the Gospel the Beatitudes (path to blessedness) from St. Luke’s Gospel on the Vigil and St. Matthew’s on the Day itself, with scenes of the Saints worshipping the Lamb of God from the book of Revelation in the Lessons for the Epistle for both days. The Collect asks God that we would have the grace to live in godliness and virtue as the Saints did, and with them as our exemplars and inspiration (part of the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us as we run the race, Hebrews 12:1), we, too, would attain the blessedness that is shared in “the communion of Saints,” referenced in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.

We hope you will join us in worship during this important season. For directions or parking info, click here.