The Catholic Defender: All Souls Day November 2


Sometime in the 10th century, the Catholic priest St. Odilo of Cluny instituted All Souls’ Day—a day to pray for the souls of deceased family members—ordinary men and women who had lived good lives and were waiting in purgatory until they were worthy to enter heaven. The annual celebration became the final and third day of Allhallowtide—right after All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day.


Once Halloween has come and gone, it’s time for an altogether different holiday: one that honors the souls of the dead in Purgatory.

The Catholic holy day of All Souls’ Day (not to be confused with All Saints’ Day) falls on November 2 each year. All around the world on this date, Catholics set aside time to pray for the faithful departed.

Jesus to St. Faustina "My daughter, . . . I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open."


While All Souls Day is now paired with All Saints Day (November 1), which celebrates all of the faithful who are in Heaven, it originally was celebrated in the Easter season, around Pentecost Sunday (and still is in the Eastern Catholic Churches). By the tenth century, the celebration had been moved to October; and sometime between 998 and 1030, St. Odilo of Cluny decreed that it should be celebrated on November 2 in all of the monasteries of his Benedictine congregation. Over the next two centuries, other Benedictines and the Carthusians began to celebrate it in their monasteries as well, and soon the commemoration of all the Holy Souls in Purgatory spread to the entire Church.


When our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St. Faustina and spoke of the feast of Divine Mercy, he opened his own divine and human heart to suffering humanity, offering himself as a refuge for poor sinners. In doing so, he gave to us what is perhaps one of the most wondrous promises ever: “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (Diary 699). The complete forgiveness of sins and punishment is equated with a renewal of baptismal grace. That is why the Feast of Divine Mercy is of such great importance in the liturgical year.


The Marian Fathers are also the promoters of the message of Divine Mercy since 1941. Saint Faustina, who received the message of Divine Mercy from Jesus, was taken to Purgatory seven times in her life to see the souls suffering, and often souls would visit her from Purgatory asking her for prayers and sacrifices.


The importance of All Souls Day was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (1914-22)​ when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one for the faithful departed; one for the priest's intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. On only a handful of other very important feast days are priests allowed to celebrate more than two Masses.


The Bible states that, “nothing impure can enter Heaven” (Rev. 21:27). Because of our sinful nature, purification must take place at some point before we can enter Heaven. The Church teaches us that this purification happens either on Earth or in Purgatory. The practice of praying for the dead as they go through this time of purification is a practice that goes back centuries. There is an example of it in 2 Maccabees: “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin” (2 Macc. 12:46).



According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go. There are three states of the Church: the Church Militant, the Church Penitent, and the Church Triumphant. We are the Church Militant because we are still living our earthly life and are active in spiritual warfare on Earth. The Church Penitent are those who are in Purgatory, who are being purified so as to be fit for entering Heaven. The Church Triumphant are those who are already in Heaven.



Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out... Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin."

Adherents of All Souls' Day traditions often remember deceased friends and relatives in various ways on the day. Through prayer, intercessions, alms and visits to cemeteries, people commemorate the poor souls in purgatory and gain them indulgences.


On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery. (The plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained every day from November 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence, on any day of the year.) While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory. Since a plenary indulgence removes all of the temporal punishment for sin, which is the reason why souls are in Purgatory in the first place, applying a plenary indulgence to one of the Holy Souls in Purgatory means that the Holy Soul is released from Purgatory and enters Heaven.


The official name of the celebration in the Roman Rite liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is "The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed".

Another popular name in English is Feast of All Souls. In some other languages the celebration, not necessarily on the same date, is known as Day of the Dead (DĂ­a de los Muertos or de los Difuntos in Spanish-speaking countries; halottak napja in Hungary; Yom el Maouta in Lebanon, Israel and Syria).

The Western celebration of All Souls' Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints' Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision. If 2 November falls on a Sunday, the Mass is of All Souls, but the Office is that of the Sunday. However, Morning and Evening Prayer (Lauds and Vespers) for the Dead, in which the


Additional references are found in Zechariah, Sirach, and the Gospel of Matthew. Jewish tradition also reinforces this belief as well as the tradition and teaching of the Church, which has been affirmed throughout history.


Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.


  • In Guatemala, people fly kites at the Barriletes Gigantes Festival, or Giant Kites Festival. These kites can take months to build and may be as big as 65 feet across! You can write a note to your ancestor and tie it to the kite’s tail for your ancestor to read in heaven.

  • In Mexico, many people create private altars for their ancestors and decorate them with photographs, flowers, candy skulls, and candles. Disney made a great movie about Día de los Muertos, but the real thing is even better.

  • In the Philippines, people cook their deceased loved one’s favorite foods for a feast with friends and relatives. Many visit their ancestors’ tombs, light candles, and even spend the night there.

  • In Hungary, many people keep the lights on in their homes for the duration of the night and leave food on the table in memory of their loved ones.

  • In Poland, traveling home for All Souls’ Day can be a must—similar to Easter and Christmas. Families visit the cemeteries where their ancestors are buried and set the night aglow with a veritable bonfire of candles.

  • In Peru, people share a loaf of t’anta wawa with a friend or relative. T’anta wawa is a sweet bread baked into the shape of a doll or small child.

All Souls’ Day is November 2nd but you can pray the All Souls’ Day Novena for any reason that you want, so go ahead and start praying!


During All Souls’ Day, which is celebrated on November 2nd, we pray for the Church Penitent, for those in Purgatory who are being purified, to lighten the burden of their purification and hasten their journey to Heaven. While the Church has not formally stated that souls in Purgatory are aware of us and can hear our petitions, it is traditionally thought that they are able to pray for us, but not for themselves.


Holy Souls in Purgatory, we look to you as pilgrims who have traversed this world before us. As you go through your purification, we ask that you remember our intentions.


Merciful Father, we ask that You have pity on those who are being purified in Purgatory, especially those who stubbornly resisted Your love and turned from You in especially grave ways, but repented and turned to You before the end of their lives. Ease their suffering and hasten their purification that they may soon join You and all the saints for eternity in Heaven.Amen.


About All Souls’ Day

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All Souls Day is a solemn celebration in the Roman Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and are now in Purgatory, being cleansed of their venial sins and the temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had confessed, and being made pure before entering into the presence of God in Heaven.


On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery. (The plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained every day from November 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence, on any day of the year.) While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory. Since a plenary indulgence removes all of the temporal punishment for sin, which is the reason why souls are in Purgatory in the first place, applying a plenary indulgence to one of the Holy Souls in Purgatory means that the Holy Soul is released from Purgatory and enters Heaven.


Praying for the dead is a Christian obligation. In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church's teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of All Souls Day is a good way to begin the month.


Divine Mercy is not an idea or concept, nor is it merely a gift. Divine Mercy is a Person: The Person of Jesus Christ


In this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have a particular opportunity to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory.


Pope Francis wrote regarding offering the Jubilee Indulgence for Holy Souls: "We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude."


When our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St. Faustina and spoke of the feast of Divine Mercy, he opened his own divine and human heart to suffering humanity, offering himself as a refuge for poor sinners. In doing so, he gave to us what is perhaps one of the most wondrous promises ever: “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (Diary 699). The complete forgiveness of sins and punishment is equated with a renewal of baptismal grace. That is why the Feast of Divine Mercy is of such great importance in the liturgical year.

The Marian Fathers are also the promoters of the message of Divine Mercy since 1941. Saint Faustina, who received the message of Divine Mercy from Jesus, was taken to Purgatory seven times in her life to see the souls suffering, and often souls would visit her from Purgatory asking her for prayers and sacrifices.


On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery.


Perhaps some of our loved ones are in Purgatory, unable to help themselves by their prayers, but you can help them. By your prayers and sufferings offered for the repose of their souls, they will be cleansed in Purgatory and enter Heaven.


Praying for the souls in Purgatory is one of the charisms of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Their founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski, had visions of Purgatory and said to his brothers, "Pray, brothers, for the souls in Purgatory suffer unbearably."


In this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have a particular opportunity to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Pope Francis has decreed a special Jubilee Indulgence, which can be obtained by the faithful by entering through a Holy Door in a Cathedral or designated Church. Also, the normal conditions for receiving an indulgence must be met (Confession, Eucharist, prayers for the Holy Father, detachment from sin). The Jubilee Indulgence will end after the close of the Jubilee Year on Nov. 20, but from now until then, every day you can gain the special Jubilee Indulgence for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and help them be cleansed and be ready for Heaven.


Pope Francis wrote regarding offering the Jubilee Indulgence for Holy Souls: "We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude."


7 Ways to Celebrate All Souls' Day at Home

Paying respects to the deeply departed. ...

  1. Giving food and flowers to the deceased as a sign of respect. ...

  2. Preparing a little feast. ...

  3. Prayers for the departed. ...

  4. Pictures and candles. ...

  5. Food and familiar smells. ...

  6. Share some stories and songs.

Cebu City, Philippines—Traditionally, candles are lighted for prayer intentions.

It is a form of offering for a petition, or a simple thanksgiving.

There are different types of candles, among them, votive candles, or prayer candles, which are intended as offering in an act of Christian prayer.

Candles play a huge role during All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day every November 1 and 2.

Christian Filipinos visit cemeteries to pay respect to departed loved ones—be it family members, relatives, or friends—to pray for the eternal repose of their souls.

It is said that one candle is lighted near the tomb of a loved one as an offering for their soul to escape purgatory and enter heaven.


ll Souls’ Day is an ancient holiday with religious and historical routes. Whether you’re getting ready to take part in an All Souls’ Day celebration, or you’re just curious, here are some examples of rituals related to this holy day.


As mentioned, All Souls’ Day isn’t a day of obligation, which means many Catholics won’t attend church. But churches that do hold an All Souls’ Mass will turn to songs and hymns related to Purgatory and praying for the dead. Here are some examples:

Help Lord the Souls that Thou Hast Made

Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made, The souls to thee so dear, In prison for the debt unpaid Of sin committed here.

Blest are the Poor in Heart

Lord, we Thy presence seek; May ours this blessing be; Give us a pure and lowly heart, A temple meet for Thee.

Ye Souls of the Faithful (who sleep in the Lord)

Ye souls of the faithful! who sleep in the Lord; But as yet are shut out, from your final reward! Oh! would I could lend you, assistance to fly; From your prison below, to your palace on high.

Readings

While visiting loved ones’ gravesites or hosting a family meal, All Souls’ Day celebrants might choose a reading or two that represents their thoughts and feelings. A priest will also choose unique readings for any Catholic Mass held on or around All Souls’ Day.

These readings typically revolve around the afterlife, and they come from the Bible. Here are some examples of common All Souls’ Day readings.

Wisdom 3:1-9

This passage begins:

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.

They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.

Psalms 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

A priest typically recites a responsorial psalm for the Eucharist portion of the service. This psalm is an example that may be used as the responsorial psalm on All Souls’ Day.

It begins:

Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; He refreshes my soul.

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Prayers

Prayer is the cornerstone of All Souls’ Day, as it’s thought to help souls achieve purification in Purgatory.

And one of the most popular prayers for All Souls’ Day is the Prayer of Saint Gertrude the Great.

According to Catholic tradition, God revealed to Saint Gertrude that reciting this prayer just once had the power to release 1,000 souls from Purgatory:

“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.”


The Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary provide this prayer:

Dear God of Mercy, I pray this day for all souls, both known and unknown to me, who, although touched by death, have not yet entered your heavenly kingdom. While they loved you in their lifetime, they failed in some way to attain the perfection heaven demands. So in my love for them, I offer my prayers, my small works of mercy in the hope that Your mercy will flow to them and bring them to eternal peace with you.

May they intercede for me for the graces I may need to live out my life on earth in perfect obedience and love of you, my Father, so that I, too, may join them in everlasting life in Heaven.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

Gravesite decorations

Many people take time out on All Souls’ Day to visit their loved ones’ graves. As a day set aside for honoring and praying for the dead, it’s the perfect time to connect with departed loved ones.

Traditionally, people clean up the headstones and gravesites of loved ones and decorate the area with flowers. Some people even light candles on the gravestones as they say a prayer for the souls of the departed.


You can observe small altars in many households on All Souls’ Day, set aside to honor and pray for the dead. Altars might include photographs of departed loved ones, candles, symbolic offerings, and other tokens, as well as religious iconography like the Crucifix.


In Sicily, children who pray for departed souls on All Souls’ Day place their shoes outside their windows and doors. After a while, they can return to find their shoes filled with sugary treats and gifts.


Another lighthearted tradition associated with All Souls’ Day is the custom of announcing engagements on the date.

In Rome, for example, a man might send an engagement ring to his beloved in a small white box. The box is packed inside an oval container filled with a type of cookie called Fave dei Morti (beans of the dead).


When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he omitted the seven books of the canon which refer to prayers for the dead. He then introduced the heretical belief that people are simply saved, or not, and argued that there is no need to pray for the dead to get them into heaven.


All Souls Day is celebrated in much of the western world on November 2. Other rites have their own celebrations. The Eastern Orthodox Church has several such days throughout the year, mostly on Saturdays. All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation. It should not be confused with All Saints' Day, which is a holy day of obligation.


All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. In Western Christianity, this day is observed principally in the Catholic Church, although some churches of the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches also celebrate it. The Eastern Orthodox churches observe several All Souls' Days during the year. The Roman Catholic celebration is associated with the doctrine that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins and from attachment to mortal sins cannot immediately attain the beatific vision in heaven, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass (see Purgatory). In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven. This sanctification is carried out posthumously in Purgatory.