Feast of Our Ancestors Top Title

The Feast of Our Ancestors celebrated on November 1st

All Saints IconThe Ancient Celts were very sincere with regard to the nearness of those who had passed on to life in what we and the Holy Scriptures call Paradise. Cf. Paradise. The location of the saved after death (Luke 23:43); the “ third heaven, i.e., the very presence of God (2 Cor 12:2, 4); or the New Jerusalem, in which is located the Tree of Life (Rev 2:7; 22:2).

In the Gospel of Luke 23:40-43, we have the story of Jesus and the “good thief” where the Lord Jesus told him that he would be with Him in paradise. Here is an explanation of this story as it reports: But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” (NIV) One criminal rebuked the other criminal—pointing out that they deserved their sentence, but Jesus did not. They were being punished justly, but Jesus had done nothing wrong. There, on the cross, receiving punishment for what his deeds deserved, this criminal faced himself, feared God, and turned to Jesus: Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (NLT)

Jesus assured him that today—that very day, after they breathed their last—the criminal would be with [him] in paradise. The assurance of immediate paradise was probably more than he even expected. The word “paradise” is a Persian loanword meaning “garden”—used in the Old Testament to refer to the Garden of Eden. This place would be one of beauty, joy, and rest (see 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7).

The garden of Eden means, also, the garden of “pleasure,” and in Gen. 2:8 the Septuagint renders the word “Eden by Paradise.” Hence, this name in the Scriptures comes to denote the abodes of the blessed in the other world.

From this study we can conclude the following:

1. That the soul will exist separately from the body; for, while the thief and the Saviour would be in Paradise, their “bodies” would be on the cross or in the grave.

2. That immediately after death—the same day—the souls of the righteous will be made happy. They will feel that they are secure; they will be received among the just; and they will have the assurance of a glorious immortality.

3. That state will differ from the condition of the wicked. The promise was made to but one on the cross, and there is no evidence whatever that the other entered there. See also the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31.

4. It is the chief glory of this state and of heaven to be permitted to see Jesus Christ and to be with him: “Thou shalt be with me.” “I desire to depart and to be with Christ,” Phil 1:23. See also Rev. 21:23; 5:9-14.

The joyous conclusion that has now been established is that when the faithful believer in Jesus Christ leaves this world in the loving Grace of Almighty God, such a one immediately finds him or herself in a condition if not a place called Paradise.

Then comes the notion of communication with those who are in Paradise by prayer, seeking prayer in the form called intercession. And as Celtic Christians, we hold to the understanding that we are very close to our dearly departed ancestors and if we can embrace the concept of Thin Places we can also entertain the concept of Thin Times. Both of these mean that we can indeed find and enjoy times and places whereupon we are in direct contact with the saintly dead. Let us continue our investigation as we see what has been called variously as the Intercession of the Saints.

Intercession of the saints is a Christian doctrine common to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. {And The Celtic Episcopal Church also.} Intercessory prayer is a petition made to God on behalf of others. If a believer prays for their children, friends, enemies or leaders, then the believer is interceding on behalf of another. The doctrine of saintly intercession goes back to the earliest church. The justification for calling upon a saint in prayer is that the saints are both close to God, because of their holiness, and accessible to humans.

Jesus' parable of Dives and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 might indicate the ability of the dead to pray for the living. Paul's repeated references to Jesus Christ as "advocate" for the believers also indicates that Jesus, living at the right hand of God, will intercede for the believer (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25). By extension, other holy persons who are living in Christ on earth or in heaven (having left their earthly existence) might intercede, through Christ, on behalf of the petitioner. (John 11:25; Rom 8:38-39). This is a controversial doctrine, because in some faiths, only Jesus is holy enough to intercede. From the Catholic and Orthodox Churches {and ours too} perspective: if those living here on earth can intercede in behalf of each other, then those which have already been glorified in heaven, and are even closer "in Christ", are made holy as "one" unified through him (the mediator between God and men- on earth and heaven) by his sacrifice, can certainly intercede for those on earth as well. (Heb 2:11, 10:10; 1 Tim 2:1-5)

The Roman Catholic Church doctrine supports intercessory prayer to saints. Intercessory prayer to saints also plays an important spot in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. They may point to such Scriptural passages as Tobit 12:12,15, Revelation 5:8, or Revelation 8:3-4, which depict heavenly beings offering the prayers of mortals before God.

With the above in our understanding, we know that it has been the practice of the Church since early times to pray for one another, to seek prayer from one another, to seek the intercession of the saintly dead and angels, and to seek favor from God with the understanding that Jesus is interceding for us to the Father. Add to all of this the need to be close to our dearly departed in Christ as our Celtic Forefathers believed and practiced; the need to find a time and place where the barrier between us and Paradise is, Thin or said differently, nearly non-existent, we of The Celtic Episcopal Church have added the Feast of Our Ancestors whereupon we celebrate the whole company of our Holy Ancestors realizing that they are not far from us but rather very near and beloved. This very special feast day will be celebrated on November 1st.

Opening Prayer:

O beautiful and beneficent master, Lord Jesus Christ who intercedes for all of the Church and for each of us specifically, who has made it possible for us to be continuously near to those Holy Ancestors who are now in paradise; move our hearts with joy and gladness by the inspiration of the All-Holy Spirit to constantly seek the intercession of the Holy Celtic Saints, the Holy Angels, and our Holy Ancestors who are near the throne giving you praise and worship and constantly shouting, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lamb who is upon the Throne who deserves the praise and worship of those in heaven and on earth. We humbly ask these things both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


Luke 16:19-31
Romans 8:31-39