Saturday, November 1, 2008
Happy, Happy Hallowmas
Sure, you knew that Hallowe’en is an elision of All Hallows Eve, but what about All Hallows itself? Better known today as All Saint’s Day, it’s sort of a European Day of the Dead kind of thing. November 1 honors saints in the broad sense of dead people who have “attained the beatific vision.” It’s a holy day of obligation in some corners of the Catholic dispensation. The following day, All Souls’ Day, is set aside for the “faithful” who are not destined for Hell but who still have a ways to go before acceding to their ultimate heavenly post. Praying for them is understood to help walk them up the stairs, as it were.
My sainted mother was/is Catholic. My father, well….let’s say his spiritual interests were more atavistic. This meant they had in common an uncommon sense of an unseen world impinging upon human affairs. Though I was born on October 10, she took a bit of a risk and waited till Hallowmas to have me baptized. The risk, you see, is that had I died prior to baptism, I would have spent eternity floating around in Limbo, happy enough but ignorant of the limitless bliss I might have enjoyed if not for my parents’ intransigence.
But all went well, and I was formally presented to the unseen world on November 1, in the company of the all the saints.
If you and I are acquainted, you may judge for yourself whether this bit of sympathetic magic panned out as my mother hoped.