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The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

November 2, 2017

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Fr. Don Miller, OFM

Orthodox service for the Faithful Departed | Vasily VereshchaginImage: Orthodox service for the Faithful Departed | Vasily Vereshchagin

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Saint of the Day for November 2


The Story of the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

The Church has encouraged prayer for the dead from the earliest times as an act of Christian charity. “If we had no care for the dead,” Augustine noted, “we would not be in the habit of praying for them.” Yet pre-Christian rites for the deceased retained such a strong hold on the superstitious imagination that a liturgical commemoration was not observed until the early Middle Ages, when monastic communities began to mark an annual day of prayer for the departed members.

In the middle of the 11th century, Saint Odilo, abbot of Cluny, France, decreed that all Cluniac monasteries offer special prayers and sing the Office for the Dead on November 2, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread from Cluny and was finally adopted throughout the Roman Church.

The theological underpinning of the feast is the acknowledgment of 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 God. The Council of Trent affirmed this purgatory state and insisted that the prayers of the living can speed the process of purification.

Superstition easily clung to the observance. Medieval popular belief held that the souls in purgatory could appear on this day in the form of witches, toads or will-o’-the-wisps. Graveside food offerings supposedly eased the rest of the dead.

Observances of a more religious nature have survived. These include public processions or private visits to cemeteries and decorating graves with flowers and lights. This feast is observed with great fervor in Mexico.


Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, …… …… rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God’s presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.

Bringing back the dead… Catholic style
All Souls, Purgatory and the Bible

Letter #95: Remembering the Dead
Hungry Souls (a bit of a [Book] review) Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
What Is All Souls Day (Commemoration of the Faithful Departed)?
All Saints or All Souls? Differences should be black and white
All Souls’ Day [Catholic Caucus]

Why I Am Catholic: For Purgatory, Thank Heavens (Ecumenical)
Q and A: Why Pray for the Dead? [Ecumenical]
“….and Death is Gain” – A Meditation on the Christian View of Death [Catholic Caucus]
99 & 1/2 Won’t Do – A Meditation on Purgatory
The Month of November: Thoughts on the “Last Things”
To Trace All Souls Day

November 2 — All Souls Day
On November: All Souls and the “Permanent Things”
“From the Pastor” ALL SAINTS & ALL SOULS
Praying for the Dead [All Souls Day] (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
To Trace All Souls Day [Ecumenical]

All Souls Day [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Roots of All Souls Day
The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
During Month of Souls, Recall Mystic, St. Gertrude the Great
All Saints and All Souls

Information: Commemoration of All Faithful Departed

Feast Day: November 2

Holy Spirit Interactive Kids: A Saint a Day
All Souls Day
Feast Day: November 2
This feast day is one of the most loving celebrations in the Church’s liturgy.
It is the day that we especially remember all those who have passed from this life into the next.
Today we stop to remember all who have died especially our relatives and friends.
We pray for those who taught us good things and made sacrifices for us.
We pray for those who prayed for us while they were on this earth.
We pray for the most forgotten souls.
We pray for those who had great responsibilities while they were on earth.
We think of those holy souls in purgatory and we realize that they are saved. Now they wait, being purified, until the moment when they can be with God, face to face.
We can offer the sacrifice of the Mass and pray for these suffering souls in purgatory to hasten their journey to God.
Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.



Thursday, November 2

Liturgical Color: White

Today is the Commemoration of All
Souls, a day we remember and pray
for all the souls in Purgatory. The
Church teaches that the living can
help those in Purgatory by offering
prayers and performing acts of
penance on their behalf.

Catholic Culture

Ordinary Time: November 2nd

The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls)


November 02, 2017 (Readings on USCCB website)


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.


Recipes (22)


Activities (8)


Prayers (9)


Library (10)

Old Calendar: Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost ; Other Titles: All Souls Day

“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
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 motivation, 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.”

  • 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.

  • To make sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead, see Mexican Sugar Skull and Hearthsong.
  • See the drop down recipe section at the top for the many recipes connected to this day. Of particular note is the English “Soul Cakes,” the Italian “Eggs in Purgatory” and Fave dei Morti (Beans of the Dead), “Bread of the Dead” from Mexico, and “Dry Bones Cookies” from Switzerland.

Meditation: John 6:37-40

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day)

This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life. (John 6:40)

What a hope-filled promise Jesus makes here! Everyone who lives and dies in Christ will be raised up on the last day. Because this promise is for everyone, it creates a special link between all of us who are baptized into Christ. It makes us all members of one family, binding us together in ways that go beyond simple church membership. In a sense, we all depend on one another because we are all members of the one body of Christ. And that means that our prayers for each other—the dead as well as the living—are more than good thoughts and wishful thinking. They have power because we are all united with each other.

Pope Francis speaks of feast days like All Saints and All Souls as “days of hope” and reminds us, “Hope is like leaven that expands our souls. There are difficult moments in life, but with hope the soul goes forward and looks ahead to what awaits us. . . . Our brothers and sisters are in the presence of God and we shall also be there . . . if we walk along the way of Jesus” (Homily, November 1, 2013).

Saints and sinners alike, we place our hope in the mercy of God—the God who gave his Son for our salvation. As St. Paul tells us, “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

The love of God is stronger than death. It reaches across time to bind us together. It bridges heaven and earth. It convinces us that nothing can separate us from our heavenly Father. So as we reflect today on everyone who has gone before us, let’s remember that our prayers can benefit one another. Whether we are praying for someone we know here and now or someone who has already died, God hears us. Surely it pleases him to see his children caring for one another!

“Father, thank you for the people you have put in my life, especially those who now sleep in faith. Together we place our hope in your promise of resurrection.”

Wisdom 3:1-9
Psalm 23:1-6
Romans 5:5-11

Marriage = One Man and One Woman Until Death Do Us Part

Daily Marriage Tip for November 2, 2017:

“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 on the last day.” (Jn 6:40) Today we commemorate All Souls’ Day when we remember all those who have gone before us in faith. Visit the graves of […]

Regnum Christi

November 2, 2017 – Man of the Mission

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day)

John 6: 37-40

Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it (on) the last 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 (on) the last day.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for your unconditional love for me. You never give up on me, even though I have sometimes kept my distance in following your plan for me.

Petition: Help me to realize that I always need to approach you especially when I feel unworthy or uncertain.

1. Entrusted to Christ: God has chosen to use us as his instruments to help bring his salvation to others. He knows us perfectly and is well aware of all our frailties. At the same time, he also knows the talents we were given to help us fulfill the task. That is why Jesus taught us to approach the Father with confidence. Sometimes we can mistakenly get the idea that Christ is our merciful intermediary who saves us from the fiery wrath of the Father of Justice. Yet we see here that the Father is paternally protective of us and in fact is the one who takes the initiative and sends us to Christ.

2. In good hands: The Marines pride themselves to the fact that they will leave no man behind on the battlefield; that they will surrender no man’s body into the hands of the enemy. God the Father gave Christ similar orders. When a Marine risks his life to rescue the dead corpse of his buddy, as edifying as it is, one is tempted to ask, “Is it really worth it?” Christ gave up his life to save our eternal life and gives us all the grace we need to keep our souls from the clutches of the devil. Could we not also ask, “Was it really worth it?” “Is my life really worth all that much to him?” Christ answers with a definitive “Yes! Absolutely!” We could confidently state that God is more interested in my salvation than I am? If so, what plans might he have for me?

3. On a mission: It is amazing that in his plan of salvation, God the Father would entrust his Son into the care of his creatures, Mary and Joseph; and equally astounding is the share of responsibility he entrusts to every Christian in the salvation of many souls. Just like a soldier, a Christian without a clear idea of his mission is ineffectual. Christ wishes to leave no man behind. This is clear not only by his death, but also by the extremes he went through in his life to save sinners. Am I aware of the many souls Christ has put in my hands? Have I already surrendered over some souls to the enemy because they seem hard to work with?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to see the value of a single soul. Show me how to love the souls entrusted to me with a personal love. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your love. If I had not discovered your love, I would have remained a slave of my own whims and desires. But knowing your love helps to put aside my self-centeredness and to love others.

Resolution: I will make a special sacrifice today for all the souls entrusted to me.

Homily of the Day

Commemoration of All The Faithful Departed

The practice of praying for the faithful departed goes all the way back to the early Christian era when names of the deceased were posted in places of worship so that all could pray for them. The catacombs of Rome testify to this practice.

Purgatory is not a physical location but a stage for the purification of souls before entrance into God’s heaven. St. Pope Gregory the Great reminds us that souls needing purification undergo a process of further cleansing which allows them to enter heaven. Jesus tells us that whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will be condemned (Mk 3: 29) but for lesser offenses there would be purification before entrance into heaven. Based on Scriptural passages which speak of cleansing and purification, the Church teaching on purification was formulated at the Councils of Trent and Florence (CCC# 330, 331)

When we pray for the faithful departed we simply practice what we profess in Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the communion of saints … the resurrection of the body.” We are all adopted sons and daughters of God. The deceased have gone ahead to be with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. While we grieve at the loss of loved ones, we trust in Jesus’ words that all who believe will be saved.

Purgatory is not some kind of prison where one is expected to make restitution for offenses of the past; rather purgatory provides for inward transformation to make it possible to be united with God.

Perhaps purgatory may be likened to a boot camp for heaven. No matter who or how we may be, boot camps are meant to prepare us for future tasks and responsibilities. It is a time to deepen one’s relationships with the merciful and loving Father who sent his only begotten Son so that we may have eternal life.

The celebration of All Souls reminds the living to pray for the departed that they may rise again as promised by Jesus to his followers.

One Bread, One Body

One Bread, One Body

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All Issues > Volume 33, Issue 6

<< Thursday, November 2, 2017 >>All Souls


Wisdom 3:1-9
1 Corinthians 15:51-57

View Readings
Psalm 23:1-6
John 6:37-40

Similar Reflections


 “If before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality.” —Wisdom 3:4 

It is a holy and pious thought to pray for the dead (2 Mc 12:44-45). Because those in heaven or in hell don’t benefit from our prayers, this implies that not everyone immediately goes to heaven or hell after they die. Therefore, when we pray for the dead, we must be praying for people in some other place, usually called purgatory. It is a place of purging and purification.

In the New Testament, the Lord suggests the existence of some place other than heaven or hell. Jesus went to “preach to the spirits in prison,” who “had disobeyed as long ago as Noah’s day” (1 Pt 3:19, 20; see also 1 Pt 4:6). These passages may refer to a place after death other than heaven or hell, but we don’t know if this place still exists. Paul mentioned the Corinthians’ practice of having themselves baptized on behalf of the dead (1 Cor 15:29). The most likely translation of this passage implies there is some place other than heaven or hell.

Jesus taught that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven “in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:32). Does this suggest that some sins can be forgiven after death? If so, there must be a place after death other than heaven or hell.

We know from early Christian art that the Church of New Testament times prayed for the dead. We should do likewise, for it is a holy and pious thought to pray for the dead and an act of faith in the resurrection of the dead.

 Prayer: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through Your mercy, rest in peace. Amen.”Promise: “Everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.” —Jn 6:40Praise: Missy, a teenager, has a special devotion to the souls in purgatory and prays for them daily.



November 2, 2017
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