All Souls’ Day is also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. This is the day when we remember our dead friends and family members and pray for their souls in purgatory and gain them indulgences.
In the Roman Catholic Church, we commemorate this day on November 2 every year. This is the day after the celebration of All Saints Day. Faithful remember their dead friends and family members in different ways. Most remember them through prayer and visits to cemeteries.
|All Souls Day – The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed|
|Feast Day||November 2|
What is All Souls Day?
In the Catholic Church, the faithful are the baptized Christians. On All Souls Day, we remember the penitent Church or Church suffering whose souls are in purgatory. We are taught that the purification to pristine status of the souls in purgatory is aided by prayers, petitions and intercessions of the faithful in the pilgrim Church on earth.
This teaching is based also on the practice of prayer for the dead and almsgiving to the poor for the atonement of the sins of the dead. This is well captured in 2 Maccabees 12: 38-46
38 Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was approaching, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there.2 Maccabees 12: 38-46
39 On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his companions went to gather up the bodies of the fallen and bury them with their kindred in their ancestral tombs.
40 But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen.
41 They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.
42 Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.
43 He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind;
44 for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
45 But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.
46 Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.
In the Catholic Church, we believe that when a person dies, his soul can go to heaven, hell, or purgatory. It is in purgatory where those souls that depart from the body and are not pristinely purified from venial sins or have not atoned for their sins go. This is because those venial sins block them from face-to-face communion with God. That is the souls have not gained the Beatific Vision.
The faithful on earth can pray for them, give alms and do works of charity and ultimately offer Holy Mass to God for mercy and pardon.
In the 11th century, Saint Odilo of Cluny, the Benedictine Abbot of the famous monastery in Cluny, directed to all other monasteries that were dependent on Cluny that they commemorate all the faithful departed on the day after All Saints’ Day.
They were to commemorate by prayers, almsgiving to the poor, and attending mass. Almsgiving was therefore linked to fasting and prayer for the dead.
This date, on November 2, therefore spread to other Benedictine monasteries and eventually to the whole Church where it has remained till today.
The Dominicans, in the 15th century, began a custom of the priests offering three masses during All Souls Day. During World War I, Pope Benedict XV extended this privilege to all priests to offer three Masses on All Souls Day.
The commemoration of all the faithful departed is celebrated by the Church on November 2, or, if this be a Sunday or a a feast of the first class, on November 3.
All Souls’ Day is celebrated in different ways in different countries. Here are some examples;
👉In many European countries, it is celebrated with prayers, vigils, decoration, and lighting of candles at the graves.
👉In Tyrol, Austria, the faithful leave cakes on the table and keep the room warm for the comfort of their departed loved ones.
👉In Brittany, people go to the cemeteries at night, kneel at the graves of their loved ones and pour a libation on them.
👉In Malta, people tie a pig with a bell then release it on the streets. This pig will later be roasted and eaten by the whole community, especially the poor.
👉In the Czech Republic, people light candles on the graves and leave them there.
👉In the Philippines, people often have one feast to celebrate both All Souls Day and All Saints Day. This feast is called “Undás”. The Filipinos usually visit the tombs of their loved ones to clean and repair them. They then pray, light candles, and offer flowers. They, later on, hold night reunions at the cemetery and have a feast.
Today’s Day Quote
Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord, and let the Perpetual Light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
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