All Souls’ Day
All Souls’ Day is marked on 2nd November (or the 3rd if the 2nd is a Sunday), directly following All Saints’ Day, and is an opportunity for Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholic churches to commemorate the faithful departed. They remember and pray for the souls of people who are in Purgatory – the place (or state) in which those who have died atone for their less grave sins before being granted the vision of God in Heaven (called Beatific vision).
Reasoning behind this stems from the notion that when a soul leaves the body, it is not entirely cleansed from venial (minor) sins. However, through the power of prayer and self-denial, the faithful left on earth may be able to help these souls gain the Beatific Vision they seek, bringing the soul eternal sublime happiness.
A 7/8th century AD prayer The Office of the Dead is read out in churches on All Souls’ Day. Other rituals include the offering of Requiem Mass for the dead, visiting family graves and reflecting on lost loved ones. In Mexico, on el dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead), people take picnics to their family graves and leave food out for their dead relatives.
Whilst praying for the dead is an ancient Christian tradition, it was Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (France) who, in 998AD, designated a specific day for remembering and praying for those in the process of purification. This started as a local feast in his monasteries and gradually spread throughout the Catholic Church towards the end of the 10th century AD.
For the souls in purgatory, waiting for eternal happiness and for meeting the Beloved is a source of suffering, because of the punishment due to sin which separates them from God. But there is also the certitude that once the time of purification is over, the souls will go to meet the One it desires.
Letter of Pope John Paul II for Millennium of All Souls’ Day
I HAVE A PARTICULAR AFFINITY FOR PRAYING FOR THE SOULS OF MY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES WHO HAVE PASSED ON. I ESPECIALLY TRY AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO MIGHT HAVE NO ONE TO PRAY FOR THEM.
OUR LORD TOLD ST. GERTRUDE THE GREAT THAT THE FOLLOWING PRAYER WOULD RELEASE 1,000 SOULS FROM PURGATORY EACH TIME IT IS SAID. (THE PRAYER WAS EXTENDED TO INCLUDE LIVING SINNERS AS WELL)…
“ETERNAL FATHER, I OFFER THEE THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD OF THY DIVINE SON, JESUS, IN UNION WITH THE MASSES SAID THROUGHOUT THE WORLD TODAY, FOR ALL THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY, FOR SINNERS EVERYWHERE, FOR SINNERS IN THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH, THOSE IN MY OWN HOME AND WITHIN MY FAMILY. AMEN.”
I TRY TO REMEMBER TO PRAY THIS AS OFTEN AS I CAN. LET US REMEMBER OUR LOVED ONES WHO HAVE PASSED ON AND ASK THEM TO PRAY FOR US TOO!