ALL SOULS’ DAY – COMMEMORATION OF ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED AND THE DAY OF THE DEAD – 2, NOVEMBER
All Souls’ Day, in Roman Catholicism, a day for commemoration of all the faithful departed, those baptized Christians who are believed to be in purgatory because they died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls. It is observed on November 2.
Roman Catholic doctrine holds that the prayers of the faithful on earth will help cleanse these souls in order to fit them for the vision of God in heaven, and the day is dedicated to prayer and remembrance. Requiem masses are commonly held, and many people visit and sometimes decorate the graves of loved ones.
From antiquity certain days were devoted to intercession for particular groups of the dead. The institution of a day for a general intercession on November 2 is due to Odilo, abbot of Cluny (died 1048). The date, which became practically universal before the end of the 13th century, was chosen to follow All Saints’ Day.
Having celebrated the feast of all the members of the church who are believed to be in heaven, the church on earth turns, on the next day, to commemorate those souls believed to be suffering in purgatory. Priests celebrate mass wearing vestments of varying colour—black (for mourning), violet (symbolizing penance), or white (symbolizing the hope of resurrection).
PRAYER ON ALL SOULS’ DAY
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day. – John 6:40
On this day, Dear Lord, Heavenly Father, fountain of Mercy and Compassion, we raise up in petition to you and in prayer, all our dearly departed, deceased family members and friends, who have completed their lives on earth and are now in your safe custody. We offer a Eucharistic sacrifice for the departed and make an offering for the poor, thus linking almsgiving with fasting and prayer for the dead, that their souls may have peace and rest in their heavenly abode.
By performing Spiritual Works of Mercy by praying for the souls in Purgatory, who thirst for your Presence dear Lord, but need purification and sanctification of their souls, as reparation for their sins, before they can enter Heaven, we hope to reduce their term. It is us, those on earth, who can pray for these souls and it is our prayers which help them to move from purgatory into Heaven. Once reposing peacefully in Heaven, we can be assured of their prayers for those of this earth.
We continue our responsibility and obligation as we pray for one another, to include those in Purgatory in our prayers, in the same manner in which the Communion of Saints intercede for us. The Saints in Heaven are role models and intercessors for those on earth. The souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves, but we can, by our offering of prayers, become instruments of their liberation and their entry into the heavenly realms.
Heavenly Father, we appeal to you, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, to impart mercy to these suffering souls, forgiving their lapses, by thè Blood our Lord Jesus shed, for the forgiveness of their sins and their restoration as your children, by becoming partakers of your just inheritance.
We offer you the most precious blood of your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and for all sinners on the face of the earth, that they may repent and be forgiven, to gain entry into your Heavenly Kingdom.
As we renew our faith in Jesus, Who by his most sorrowful passion, offered atonement for the sins of the whole world, strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters will share in His Resurrection, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen