COMMEMORATION of ALL the FAITHFUL DEPARTED (ALL SOULS)
Today, the Church commemorates All Souls Day, a day in which we honor all the faithful departed, and pray that God, in His compassionate and Infinite Love, may bless those who have departed from this life with His boundless Mercy.
In the early days of Christianity, the names of the departed brethren were entered in a form of a special registry. Later, in the 6th century, it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of the deceased members during the time of Pentecost. In the 7th century in Spain, this commemoration was celebrated before Lent. Eventually, the date was changed to October 1st and spread throughout many of the religious Orders in Europe.
In the middle of the 11th century, Saint Odilo, abbot of Cluny (France), ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to be held annually in the monasteries of his Order on November 2, the day after the Solemnity of All Saints. This custom then spread and was finally adopted throughout the Roman Church.
The theological basis for this feast is the acknowledgment of our human frailty. Since few people achieve perfection in this life but, rather, go to the grave still scarred with traces of sinfulness, some period of purification seems necessary before a soul comes face-to-face with the Infinite and Awesome Holiness of God, especially for those who leave this life in the state of grace, but whose souls are still tainted with blemishes and flaws. In the wondrous nature of God’s Divine Mercy, Purgatory is where these souls make retribution to God’s Divine Justice.
The Council of Trent (1545-1563 A.D.) reaffirmed this process of purgation, or purgatory state, in which the soul is spiritually cleansed of its imperfections, and taught that the prayers of the living can speed the process of purification, especially the prayers of the Holy Mass, and that the faithful on Earth, the Church Militant, can help them not only by prayers, but also by offerings of good works.
This feast is observed with great fervor in various countries and cultures, and is recognized not only by the Roman Church of the West, but as well as Eastern-Rite Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant denominations.
For more on the Commemoration of All Souls Day, please see today’s “Meditation for the Day”.
We commemorate this special feastday on November 2 in the Western Church.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the Commemoration of All Souls Day)
“Merciful Father, hear our prayers and console us. As we renew our faith in Your Son whom You raised from the dead, strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters will share in His Resurrection, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”