November 13, 2022 Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Welcome Father Eckhard Today’s Readings: Mal 3:19-20a | 2 Thes 3:7-12 | Lk 21:5-19

In November, not only the Germans visit the graves of their relatives. The Celts commemorated the dead in the transition from autumn to winter. With Halloween on the eve of November 1st, their customs return to the mainland. In this period of transition to winter, before nature seems to die, according to the Celts, the dead appear to the living.

The living approach the dead on November 1st and 2nd by visiting the graves. The burning light on the graves represents the souls of the deceased. Added to this is the commemoration of the war victims in the middle of the month on the day of national mourning and on the Sunday before the first Advent, the Eternal Sunday of Protestant Christians. The Church Year guides Christians through the individual dimensions of life and also evokes a mood of its own. The place of commemoration of the dead is the cemetery, in the gray of November, the trees already leafless. The Celtic heritage conveys a closeness to them with the idea that the souls of the dead come to their graves. November precedes the rising sun, which will pass its lowest point on Christmas, today, December 21st. Because of the new rise of the sun, Christmas was deliberately chosen as the date for the birth celebration of Jesus. In Rome, not only was the festival of the sun god rededicated to Jesus, but also the statement of John the Baptist, who said of Jesus: “He must increase, I must decrease.” John, who according to the Gospel of Luke was born half a year before Jesus has its feast day on June 24th at the summer solstice when the sun begins to wane.

Reformation Day: October 31 has another meaning besides Halloween. In 1517 Martin Luther posted his theses on the sale of indulgences on the portal of the church in Wittenberg. There he worked as a professor. Hence the beginning of the Reformation and at the same time of a new media strategy that was made possible by the invention of letters. Sticks are cut from beech wood, from which the letters are then carved individually. This enabled faster production, so that the theses could be read not only on the church door, but also on leaflets that were quickly reprinted in other cities. The flyer, together with the hymns in German, became the medium of the Reformation.

Halloween is rooted in the Celtic festival of Samhein, which marks the transition from autumn to winter. All Hallows eve is of Christian origin. The gourds, with eyes and mouth carved, reveal the light of a candle. Here, too, the candle stands for the invisible souls. All Saints’ Day has its origins in Rome. In addition to the martyrs and witnesses of faith who are known by name, the others who have reached their heavenly dwelling place were also remembered. The Pantheon, the cult room dedicated to all Roman gods, was rededicated by Pope Boniface IV at the beginning of the 7th century as a memorial to all saints. The date for the celebration of the unknown saint was initially in the Easter season, Pope Gregory III. (731-741) set the date for November 1st On All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, Catholics go to the cemeteries, they have cleaned the grave beforehand, put up a candle and brought flowers. On that day, the graves are blessed with holy water by the priest. Since All Saints’ Day is also a public holiday in various federal states, such as in southern Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, many people also drive to the graves of their parents and relatives.

All Souls’ Day also originated in Celtic territory, introduced in 998 by Odilo, abbot of the Burgundian Benedictine Abbey of Cluny. The festival, which spread through the Benedictines, embraces a piety concerned with souls still being prepared for heavenly existence in the intermediate state of purgatory. The living can help these souls, also through indulgences, which shorten the payment of the penalties for sins, but are not an act of forgiveness of sins. All Souls’ Day is related to Luther’s theses against the sale of indulgences. The care for the poor souls had been commercialized by the church, you could buy a letter of indulgence and thus help finance the building of a church. In Luther’s time, the Pope obtained funds for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.

November 11th is another day of transition. Until the introduction of gas and then electric lamps, candles were lit in the evenings, which remained in use until February 2nd to enable domestic chores, such as processing the wool on spinning wheels. The financial year ended on November 11th, servants and maids could change employers on this day. They received a goose as a farewell. November 11 was also the eve of an earlier Advent season. Marriage Karl the Greater introduced the Roman liturgy in his kingdom, the so-called Gallican liturgy was decisive. She had adopted the Alexandrian date, January 6, as her Christmas festival, and kept a preparation time of 40 days. If you exclude the Sundays, you arrive at around November 11th as the eve and thus at the carnival. Until then, the number of animals had to be reduced for the winter, especially since no meat was eaten during Advent. That is why good food was available before the start of Advent. In the Rhineland, carnival begins on November 11, but the events only begin after Epiphany on January 6, because the carnival that is celebrated does not precede Advent but Lent. Today the saint, whose feast day is celebrated on November 11, is dominating Martin of Tours. He was a Roman soldier. Mars was the name of the Roman god of war. He practiced charity by sharing his cloak with a beggar. This scene, which took place in Amiens, is re-enacted with the actor Martins riding a horse. A large fire ends the parade in the early evening of St. Martin’s Day.

The National Day of Mourning on the second Sunday before Advent commemorates the war dead. It was introduced after World War I and moved to November after World War II. Before the evangelical Eternity Sunday, which is celebrated before the 1st Advent. Wreaths are laid at this state commemoration of the dead. War memorials are erected in almost every town, recording the names of the fallen soldiers of that town. The soldiers are seen as warriors, civilian victims of war do not find a place in the list of names.

Eternity Sunday, formerly the Sunday of the Dead, on the last Sunday before the first Advent is the Protestant counterpart to the Catholic commemoration of the dead on November 1st and 2nd. The service is combined with a walk to the cemetery. The name “Eternal Sunday” refers to the belief in eternal life, which is the theme of the service. The commemoration of the deceased introduced by the Prussian king in 1816 on the last Sunday of the church year also applies to those who died in the wars of liberation against Napoleon.

The day of repentance and prayer on the Wednesday before Eternal Sunday was a public holiday until 1994. It calls for conversion and prayer. It is no longer guaranteed by the state to be free of work, because the long-term care insurance is to be financed by one day of overtime by the employed person. In Saxony, this Wednesday is still a day off.

Source: Translated from Image: Greek icon of Second Coming c. 1700s