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The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Commemoration
November 2nd


Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch
All Souls' Day --1910 Oil on canvas, 51,5 x 72,5 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
(It is a Hungarian tradition to go to cemeteries to honor the dead)

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the day after the Solemnity of All Saints, the Church invites us to pray for the faithful departed. This yearly commemoration, often marked by visits to the cemetery, is an occasion to ponder the mystery of death and to renew our faith in the promise of eternal life held out to us by Christ’s resurrection. As human beings, we have a natural fear of death and we rebel against its apparent finality. Faith teaches us that the fear of death is lightened by a great hope, the hope of eternity, which gives our lives their fullest meaning. The God who is love offers us the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of his Son. In Christ, death no longer appears as an abyss of emptiness, but rather a path to life which will never end. Christ is the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in him will never die. Each Sunday, in reciting the Creed, we reaffirm our faith in this mystery. As we remember our dear departed ones, united with them in the communion of the saints, may our faith inspire us to follow Christ more closely and to work in this world to build a future of hope. -- Pope Benedict XVI, November 2, 2011

Readings | Why we pray for the dead | Family Activities

All Souls - Prayers for the dead
From the beginning, Christians have prayed for the dead and have undertaken works of penance on their behalf. There is scriptural basis for this intercessory prayer for the sins of others and for the dead in the Old Testament. Job's sacrifices purified his sons (Job 1:5); and Judas Maccabeus "made atonement for the dead that they be delivered from their sin" (II Macc 12:46).

The tradition in the Church of having Masses said for the dead began in the earliest times. The pre-Christian Roman religion, which held that some form of life continued after death, gave votive offerings to the gods for the dead at three specified times: the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death. This practice of praying for the departed on these same days was adopted ("inculturated") by the early Christians -- and continued in the Church for nearly 2000 years: the Church offered Masses for the deceased person on the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death.

Beginning in the year 998, All souls -- the "faithful departed" -- were officially remembered in the Church's prayers on the evening of November 1, and with Requiem Masses, Masses for the dead, on November 2. All Souls Day is now a feast of the universal Church. (The word "requiem" is Latin for "rest".) Following the Second Vatican Council, all Masses celebrated on All Saints day observe that feast, not "All souls". Three Masses may still be said on All Souls Day. The first two are Masses for Burial, and the third is a Mass for the Dead. Black vestments may be worn on this day.

We pray for the faithful departed, those who have been baptized, but who need to be completely purified of all stain of sin before they come into full union with God in Heaven. In other words, most of us. The Church's teaching about Purgatory, the place of purification, is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§1030-1032):

"All who die in god's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven.

"The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

"As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

"This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: 'Therefore [Judas Maccabeus' made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.' From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almogiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

"Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them." [Saint John Chrysostom - 4th century]

Collect:
Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord,
and, as our faith in your Son,
raised from the dead, is deepened,
so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants
also find new strength.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

or

O God, glory of the faithful and life of the just,
by the Death and Resurrection of whose Son
we have been redeemed,
look mercifully on your departed servants,
that, just as they professed the mystery of our resurrection,
so they may merit to receive they joys of eternal happiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

or

O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son,
having conquered death,
should pass over into the realm of heaven,
grant, we pray, to your departed servants
that, with the mortality of this life overcome,
they may gaze eternally on you,
their Creator and Redeemer.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

First Reading: Wisdom 3:1-9
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction: but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.

Second Reading: Romans 5:5-11
Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man--though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

or Romans 6:3-9
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

Gospel Reading:
All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Why We Pray for the Dead

We say prayers, not only for those whom we knew and loved, but also for the "poor souls". Explain to your children about praying for the "poor souls" who may have no one else -- no families, no children or grand-children -- to pray for them. This is an act of charity that we can perform for them.

Be sure to mention that that respect for the dead is part of respect for all human life which comes from God. Our heavenly Father gave us life, and we are all infinitely precious to Him, and he wants us all to be with him in heaven forever. We can see, then, how a denial of death, or a refusal to accept pain, sorrow, and suffering as part of life, is really a denial of the value of life and love.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church secton on Purgatory (1030-1032) explains that "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (1030).

The Catechism states that "From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice... The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead" (1032).

The feast of All Souls is a reminder to pray for the "faithful departed". Although they are members of the Communion of Saints, have been saved and will one day be in heaven, they need to be perfected before they can go to Heaven, that is, to come into full unity with the perfection that is God.

We hope your school-age children have an opportunity to attend Mass on All Souls day. (If this is already not on your parish school's schedule, do suggest that it be added!)

Family activities:

Heavenly Father, You sent Christ Jesus your Son to wash away the sins of all mankind through His perfect sacrifice,
and you cleansed our departed brothers and sisters in the waters of baptism.
May His perfect sacrifice free them from the power of death and give them eternal life.
In your mercy, O Lord, grant them eternal rest,
and may perpetual light shine on them forever. + Amen.

***

Eternal Rest

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

Requiem Æternam

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

Copyright © 2000 by Helen Hull Hitchcock. Permission is hereby granted to print these pages for private use. For all other uses, permission must be requested.


Hallowe'en - a Christian holiday

All Saints Day - A solemn feast of the Church



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