The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

“On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city.” — Roman Martyrology

Every priest is permitted to say three Masses on this day and it would be a good practice for the laity to attend three Masses and offer them for the Poor Souls.

All Souls Indulgences
An indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed. The indulgence is plenary each day from the first to the eighth of November; on other days of the year it is partial.

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who on the day dedicated to the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed [November 2 {as well as on the Sunday preceding or following, and on All Saints’ Day}] piously visit a church. In visiting the church it is required that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary also to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the visit; it is, however, fitting that communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father be said on the same day as the visit.

The condition of praying for the intention of the Holy Father is fully satisfied by reciting one Our Father and one Hail Mary. A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once in the course of the day.


All Souls Day

Mass for the All Souls

The Church, after rejoicing yesterday with those of her children who have entered the glory of heaven, today prays for all those who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory await the day when they will be joined to the company of saints. At no place in the liturgy is stated in more striking fashion the mysterious union between the Church triumphant, the Church militant and the Church suffering; at no time is there accomplished in clearer fashion the twofold duty of charity and justice deriving for every Christian from the fact of his incorporation in the mystical Body of Christ. By virtue of the consoling doctrine of the communion of saints the merits and prayers of each one are able to help all; and the Church is able to join her prayer with that of the saints in heaven and supply what is wanting to the souls in purgatory by means of the Mass, indulgences and the alms and sacrifices of her children.

The celebration of Mass, the sacrifice of Calvary continued on our altars, has ever been for the Church the principal means of fulfilling towards the dead the great commandment of charity. Masses for the dead are found in the fifth century. But it was St. Odilo, fourth abbot of Cluny, who was responsible for the institution of the general commemoration of all the faithful departed; he instituted it and fixed its celebration on November 2, the day after All Saints. The practice spread to the rest of Christendom.

Daily in a special Memento in the Canon of the Mass, at which the priest remembers all those who have fallen asleep in the Lord, the priest implores God to grant them a place of happiness, light and peace. Thus there is no Mass in which the Church does not pray for the faithful departed; but today her thoughts are directed towards them in a particular fashion, with the maternal preoccupation of leaving no soul in purgatory without spiritual aid and of grouping them all together in her intercession. By a privilege that Benedict XV’s decree has extended to the whole world every priest can today celebrate three Masses; for the liberation of the souls in purgatory the Church multiplies the offering of the sacrifice of Christ, from which she draws forever on behalf of all her children, infinite fruits of redemption.

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 motiva
    tion, 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.”

  • Read this article: We Celebrate All Souls Day from the Basilian Fathers.
  • 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. Read Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy to understand the harmony that piety and devotions must have with the Liturgy.

    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.

    Ann Ball elaborates on Day of the Dead.

  • To make sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead, see Mexican Sugar Skull and Hearthsong.

via Catholic Culture : Liturgical Year.

Read the Bible at Mass

First Reading: Wisdom 3:1-9
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.
In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die; and their departure was taken for misery;
and their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace.
And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality.
Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace he hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust he hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them.
The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds.
They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.
They that trust in him, shall understand the truth: and they that are faithful in love shall rest in him: for grace and peace is to his elect.

Responsorial Psalms 23:1-6
R. (1) The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
or: R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

The LORD ruleth me: and I shall want nothing.
He hath set me in a place of pasture.
He hath brought me up,
on the water of refreshment:
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
or: R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice,
for his own name’s sake.
For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evils, for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
or: R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

Thou hast prepared a table before me
against them that afflict me.
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
and my
chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
or: R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

And thy mercy will follow me
all the days of my life.
And that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
unto length of days.
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
or: R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

Second Reading Romans 5:5-11 or Romans 6:3-9
Brothers and sisters:

And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us. For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly? For scarce for a just man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die. But God commendeth his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time, Christ died for us; much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. And not only so; but also we glory in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received reconciliation.

or

Brothers and sisters:

Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ: Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him.

Gospel John 6:37-40
Jesus said to the crowds:

“All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out. Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again in the last day. And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.”

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