All Souls Day

Today is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, which is not a day of obligation. The day (and for many parishes the whole month of November) is a time when we pray for All Souls. We pray for all those who have died in our families, communities, and throughout the world.   

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,  “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (#1030).

“The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence, we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come” (CCC, #1031). 

This is why we pray for the souls in purgatory; they have not yet come into the glory of heaven. Our prayers can help these souls on their journey. I actually have my own practice of praying for these souls. Many years ago I began to pray a Hail Mary each time I would see a dead animal on the side of the road. I pray for those who have no one to pray for them and for all the innocent lives lost throughout time.

Each year, the several churches I’ve worked at would ask parishioners for handwritten lists of family and friends who have died. These pages are then put in a binder and placed by the paschal candle, which is lit for all the Masses in November. They are also mentioned in our prayers of the faithful throughout the month. It is a heartfelt offering for the souls who cannot pray for themselves.  

We see these days overlap with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) as they honor the lives of family members with a two-day celebration that coincides with All Saints and All Souls days. 

As we reflect on the lives and deaths of our loved ones, please pray with me a beautiful prayer from Catholic Relief Services for all the faithful departed in purgatory.

All Souls Day Prayer
Merciful Father,
On this day, we are called to remember those who have died,
Particularly those who have died in the past year,
And pray for their joyful reunion with you, their loving creator.
As your son taught us to call the stranger
neighbor, our fallen are many—
Names we will never know,
Voices we have never heard,
In lands we may never visit,
Yet brothers and sisters all.
And so we pray.
For victims of war, caught in the crossfires of
conflicts we could not quell,
for soldiers and civilians,
adults and children, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For those migrants who have died seeking a
haven where they hoped to find safety
and opportunity for themselves and for their families, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For victims of hunger, denied their share in the
bounty you have placed before us, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For victims of AIDS, Malaria, Ebola, and other infectious diseases, who died before adequate care could reach them, we pray
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For those refugees seeking asylum from war,
who died in a land that was not their home, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For victims of emergencies and calamities everywhere,
who died amid chaos and confusion, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
Lord, as you command, we reach out to the fallen.
We call on you on behalf of those we could not reach this year.
You raised your son from the dead
that all may share in his joyful resurrection.
In Jesus’ name, we pray …
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen

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Beth is part of the customer care team at Diocesan. She brings a unique depth of experience to the group due to her time spent in education, parish ministries, sales and the service industry over the last 25 yrs. She is a practicing spiritual director as well as a Secular Franciscan (OFS). Beth is quick to offer a laugh, a prayer or smile to all she comes in contact with. Reach her here