In search of immortality

We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.

This week we mark two important days in our Church Year, All Saints on Friday and All Souls on Saturday.  The Solemnity of All Saints is a remembrance of all the saints and we find the origins of this practice in the first few centuries CE.  During the time of the persecution of Christians by the Romans, the anniversaries of the martyrs were remembered, but as their numbers increased, a particular day was set aside to remember all those ‘saints’ who had died, both those known and unknown. 

Today, on this occasion, we remember all whose lives of faith are examples to us all.  The Feast of All Souls is a remembrance of all who have died and a time to offer prayers for them.  Around the world there are many cultural-religious practices associated with this day and ways of honoring the dead.  This commemoration leads us to think about life, death, and of course, immortality.  What might this be?  What language and images might we use to convey a sense of it? Throughout the history of secular thinking and philosophy, as well as religious thought and beliefs, many ideas and concepts of immortality have arisen and current thinking is no different, for today too there are many ways in which this is understood.  

There is a kind of immortality that some people achieve which comes from their contribution to humanity, to the world, to the Arts and Sciences.  What they did or created continues to live on and to delight and bring joy, to improve people’s lives, to inspire, challenge and comfort.  A great figure such as Martin Luther King Jr lives on through his powerful words and actions which people draw on as they fight their own battles against exploitation and racism. Mother Teresa needs no introduction beyond the mention of her name and her endeavours likewise inspire others to go and do the same.  Bach, Mozart and Beethoven continue to take us into that place of sublime beauty and transcendence where the soul is nourished. The legacies and creativity of so many gifted people and so many people of goodness and self-sacrifice, enrich our world and make it a better place for their having been in it. 

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Ms Kerry McCullough

Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator