Today marks the first of November, All Saints Day, when the Catholic Church has for centuries honored departed followers of Christ, especially those martyred for their faith. Nearly 500 years ago yesterday, a certain fiery German named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses against papal indulgences—pieces of paper that claimed to offer divine forgiveness for money—and ignited the Protestant Reformation.
This past day or so is often celebrated as a sort of glorification of evil—though I found an interesting Catholic perspective on Halloween in this article—but Christ’s church, of various backgrounds. has far more reason to celebrate on these days. As I once heard a pastor point out in reference to Halloween, “The wrong people are celebrating!” I know many Christian families seek to make a wholesome dress-up celebration of October 31st, and my family used to as well; I’m not judging that. But for those who do seek to honor the devil on that day…well, they don’t really have any reason to celebrate. Followers of Jesus, thanks to His cross and empty tomb, do.
My family didn’t manage to have as much of a Reformation Day celebration this year as we have in the past (though I always enjoy the notation of “Reformationstag” on the charming calendar our German-dwelling relatives send us each Christmas). But I was grateful, as I sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” while washing dishes, that we are no longer told we must purchase God’s forgiveness with money…that we have learned again that He wants us to have His word in our own language and to approach Him directly through Jesus. These legacies of the Reformation, I think, apply to Catholics as well as Protestants. I am grateful, also, for the “great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us,” and of whom today is a fitting reminder. Mostly I am grateful for a God whose faithfulness to His people extends through the generations.
And that is reason to celebrate.