ALL SOULS DAY
Wisdom, Chapter 3, Verse 2-9
2They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction 3and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in PEACE. 4For if to others, indeed, they seem punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; 5Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. 6As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. 7In the time of their judgment* they shall shine and dart about as sparks through stubble; 8They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
Immortality is the reward of the righteous, yet in the old tradition suffering, childlessness, and early death are often seen as a divine punishment. The author of the book of Wisdom affirms that, for the righteous, sufferings are not punishments but purification and opportunities to show fidelity, whereas for the wicked suffering is truly a punishment.
ALL SOULS DAY is the annual commemoration of all those souls who departed this life in the grace and favor of God but who are still detained in purgatory. Purgatory is that third place in the other world in which the souls of the departed suffer the temporal punishment of those sins for which in life they have not sufficiently atoned, and in which they are purified until they are worthy to appear in the presence of God.
Is there a purgatory?
Yes, it is a doctrine of our faith. 1. Even under the Old Law the Jews held to this belief, and accordingly Judas Machabeus sent twelve thousand silver drachmas to Jerusalem to procure the offering of sacrifices for the dead. 2. Under the New Law Jesus Christ seems to point to such a place (Matt. v. 26, xii. 32). The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: The fire shall try every man’s work; of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon [upon Christ], he shall receive a reward; if any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss [by the fire of purgatory], but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire (i. Cor. iii. 13-15). A fire from which a man may be saved cannot be the fire of hell; for from hell there is no redemption. The words of St. Paul, therefore, can only be understood of purgatory.
What souls are they that go to purgatory?
The souls of all those who, though dying in the grace of God, have yet something to atone for. Those persons dying in the grace of God are still friends of God, and certainly God does not cast those who are His friends into hell. It is, therefore, as suitable to the idea of God s mercy as it is consonant to reason that such souls should be first purified in purgatory.
How can we assist the souls suffering in purgatory?
1. By our prayers. The Holy Scripture says, It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. The Catholic Church has therefore always taught that the prayer of the faithful for the departed is holy and wholesome.
2. By the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the fruits of which are most beneficial to the souls in purgatory. For this reason, holy Church has always, from the time of the apostles, remembered the dead in the holy Mass.
3. By gaining indulgences, and other good works, by which we supplicate God to show mercy to the souls of the suffering, to accept what is performed by us in satisfaction for the punishment to be endured by them, and to bring them into the kingdom of everlasting peace and light.
When and how was this yearly commemoration of the departed introduced?
The time of the introduction of this commemoration cannot be determined; for as early as the time of Tertullian he mentions that the Christians of his day held a yearly commemoration of the dead. Towards the end of the tenth century St. Odo, abbot of the Benedictines, at Cluny, directed this feast to be celebrated yearly, on the 2d of November, in all the con vents of his Order, which usage was afterwards enjoined upon the whole Christian world by Pope John XVI. The feast of this day was probably established in order that, after having one day before rejoiced over the glory of the saints in heaven, we should this day remember in love those who are sighing in purgatory for deliverance.
O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that, by our pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired.
EPISTLE, i. Cor. xv. 51-57.
Brethren: Behold I tell you a mystery: we shall all indeed rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible: and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption: and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ.
GOSPEL. John v. 25-29.
At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Amen, amen, I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself: so, He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself: and He hath given Him power to do judgment, because He is the Son of man. Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life: but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.
· An excellent book on purgatory, by Rev. F.X. Schouppe, S.J., entitled, Purgatory is worth checking out; after the death of my own father reading it brought me much consolation.
Visiting the Dead
Families travel, often at great distance and in their best apparel, to visit the graves of friends and relatives, lighting candles, bringing flowers, and kneeling there in prayer. Processions can be conducted where the priest leads the congregation in litanies for the dead and blesses the graves with holy water. Often times these graves are decorated and groomed the week before, so that when the day of commemoration comes, everything is suitably prepared.
The "Octave" of the Dead
The Church has never instituted an octave for All Souls' Day (though prior to 1955 it had one for All Saints' Day). Nevertheless, popular piety has extended all of the afore-mentioned customs over an eight-day period. The Church has encouraged this in at least one way: it grants a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, to anyone who visits cemeteries from November 1 to 8.
The Day of the Dead is also a traditional time for penance and charity. Giving food to the poor, for example, is a popular corporal work of mercy on All Souls' Day.
Things to Do
· Do pious practices to help the Poor Souls: attend three Masses for the Poor Souls on this day; remember your family and friends who are deceased and make an extra sacrifice for them; pray the rosary for the most forgotten soul in purgatory.
· The faithful who visit a cemetery to pray for the faithful departed, saying the Lord's Prayer and the Creed (even if only mentally), may gain a plenary indulgence once only under the usual conditions: sacramental confession (eight days before or after the act), Eucharistic Communion on that day, and prayer for the Pope's intentions (usually one Our Father and Hail Mary as minimum). Each day between November 1 and November 8, this gains a plenary indulgence that can only be applied to the poor souls in purgatory. Any other time of year this gains a partial indulgence. See Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November for more information about indulgences for the Poor Souls.
· There is also solemn commemoration to be used on All Souls. See Visiting a Cemetery on All Souls Day, Memorial Day, or on the Anniversary of Death or Burial.
· Make a nice poster listing all the family and friends departed. Put this on display where the members of the family can be reminded to pray for the loved ones throughout November. Remind family members to offer extra prayers and sacrifices for the poor souls in purgatory. Of course, this shouldn't be the only motivation, but do include the fact that after these souls reach heaven, they will intercede on your behalf.
· Read the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy and the section entitled "The Memorial of the Dead in Popular Piety." Of particular note:
The Christian, who must be conscious of and familiar with the idea of death, cannot interiorly accept the phenomenon of the "intolerance of the dead," which deprives the dead of all acceptance in the city of the living. Neither can he refuse to acknowledge the signs of death, especially when intolerance and rejection encourage a flight from reality, or a materialist cosmology, devoid of hope and alien to belief in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Some suggested devotions from the Directory (in accordance with time, place and tradition, popular devotions to the dead take on a multitude of forms):
· the novena for the dead in preparation for 2 November, and the octave prolonging it, should be celebrated in accordance with liturgical norms;
· visits to the cemetery; in some places this is done in a community manner on 2 November, at the end of the parochial mission, when the parish priest takes possession of the parish; visiting the cemetery can also be done privately, when the faithful go to the graves of their own families to maintain them or decorate them with flowers and lamps. Such visits should be seen as deriving from the bonds existing between the living and the dead and not from any form of obligation, non-fulfilment of which involves a superstitious fear.
· membership in a confraternity or other pious association whose objects include "burial of the dead" in the light of the Christian vision of death, praying for the dead, and providing support for the relatives of the dead.
· suffrage for the dead through alms deeds, works of mercy, fasting, applying indulgences, and especially prayers, such as the De profundis, and the formula Requiem aeternam [Eternal Rest], which often accompanies the recitation of the Angelus, the rosary, and at prayers before and after meals.
· Have family discussions about death, preparing for death, funerals, and the Sacrament of the Sick. Visit the cemetery with children. Visits to the cemetery should be uplifting, calm and peaceful, not a scary event.
· From the Catholic Culture library:
For many more documents search the library for "purgatory."
· In many places this day centers around the family departed and the cemetery. Families go to gravesites, clean them, decorate them, add candles. This can be an all-day affair, with picnics and celebration. Of particular note is the Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead, celebration in Mexico on November 2. One could say this is the "Mexican Halloween." For more information on this Catholic holiday, see Mexico Connect for a variety of links for information. Please note that as with many holidays, there is much commercialism and secularism.
Deeply rooted cultural elements connoting particular anthropological concepts are to be found among the customs and usages connected with the "cult of the dead" among some peoples. These often spring from a desire to prolong family and social links with the departed. Great caution must be used in examining and evaluating these customs. Care should be taken to ensure that they are not contrary to the Gospel. Likewise, care should be taken to ensure that they cannot be interpreted as pagan residues.
More All Souls’ Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Visit the cemetery where your loved ones are buried and light a candle. This is exactly what the holiday is meant to celebrate, and it is also very common for people to do on All Souls’ Day.
· Watch a movie about All Souls’ Day or Christianity. Some of our favorites are: All Soul’s Day (2005), Passion of the Christ (2004), and Raising the Undead (2006).
· Spread awareness on social media by using the hashtag #AllSoulsDay, #HonourTheDead and #HeavenAwaits.
· Create an alter in memory of a loved one. This can be done within your home and typically uses pictures of the person, candles, flowers and any other sentimental pieces.
· Prepare a meal in memory of a deceased family member. In many countries, it is customary to prepare this meal and it is believed that the dead return to consume the food.
· Eat waffles and Pray for the assistance of the Angels
· Monday: Litany of Humility
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896