Pagans in Galicia in the northern part of Spain, influenced by the Celts, celebrate the Dia de la Muerte, the Day of the Dead. Those Spaniards who traveled to the “new world” brought those festivities with them. We see variations of them in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Haiti.
They would go from house to house, begging for money or food. “Soul cakes” were handed out, along with a penny or a ha’penny. Soul cakes are little cakes that look more like muffins and are richly filled with berries and nuts.
Other versions of soul cakes are a cross between what the British call a biscuit (but we call a cookie) and a scone; they are sweet and carry a cross made of currents (or, raisins). I’ve made both kinds for your pleasure at coffee hour.
Whatever soul cakes were leftover were either left on a plate beside the door for hungry, haunted souls and fairies as appeasement against mischief. Or they were tossed into the bonfire as sacrifices for the dead.
Soul, a soul, a soul cakePlease good missus a soul cakeAn apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,Any good thing to make us all merry.One for Peter, two for PaulThree for Him who made us all.
It is Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message that speaks most powerfully. He writes:
But it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made.Jesus not only reminds us of our own mortality but also our human fragility. He calls attention to the dangers of self-satisfaction and greed, and the importance of living this life, this one life that we all have here on earth – to the betterment of our lives and others.
What you have is all you'll ever get.
And it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself.
Your self will not satisfy you for long.
For me, the whole theology of resurrection can be summed up in one line from the Eucharistic prayer we use at funerals – in both Rite I and Rite II. It is this: “for we know that life is changed, not ended.”
Let that sink in for just a moment.
It means that we believe in a life after this life. We don’t know what that life after this life will look like. We only believe that it exists. It doesn’t mean that one life has more value than the other. It means, to me, that all life is sacred.
But I fear we don’t tell our stories to each other any more. It’s important to know the family stories – and all the characters and their stories. We need to know about them so that we can better know ourselves.
There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests - look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors!
Your task is to be true, not popular."
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.