All Souls Day

Today, the Church remembers all those who have gone to their rest, and She prays the Divine Office for the Dead. The opening hymn for today’s prayers is the Dies Irae – Day of Wrath – which tells of the standing before the King of Mercy on judgment day.

A key thought for the day is, God’s mercy. Saint Braulio, Bishop, wrote:

“O death! You separate those who are joined to each other in marriage. You harshly and cruelly divide those whom friendship unites. But your power is broken…Your conquerer redeemed us. He handed himself over to wicked men so that he could transform the wicked into persons who were truly dear to Him…focusing our attention upon the glory of our Redeemer there is sufficient hope for our resurrection.”

It is thus, part of the Christian experience to find consolation in the passing of our loved ones. Our here-and-now is our temporary home, and we will see our loved ones again. Until then we pray for the departed souls, that they may be received into heaven. The tradition of praying for the dead is explained:

II Machabees 12: 43-46

And making a gathering, [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

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Between Noon of November 1 and Midnight tonight, a person who has been to confession and Communion can gain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, for the poor souls each time he visits a church or public oratory and recites the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory be to the Father six times. This is a special exception to the ordinary law of the Church according to which a plenary indulgence for the same work can be gained only once a day. Because of this, some of the customs described below may be begun on All Saints Day.

Also, the faithful who, during the period of eight days from All Saints Day, visit a cemetery and pray for the dead may gain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, on each day of the Octave, applicable only to the dead. Here is a simple invocation for the dead, called the “Eternal Rest” prayer:

Eternal rest grant unto him/her (them), O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him/her (them). May he/she (they) rest in peace. Amen.

Latin version:

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei (eis) Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei (eis). Requiéscat (Requiéscant) in pace. Amen.

Catholics also pray this prayer for the dead anytime throughout the year, and whenever they pass a cemetery. Many families pray a Rosary nightly for the dead throughout the Octave of All Saints, replacing the Fatima prayer with the Eternal Rest prayer.

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Let us remember, too, those killed in Baghdad Syrian-Catholic cathedral on Sunday.

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Today’s readings and homily can be watched here.

Merciful Father,
hear our prayers and console us.
As we renew our faith in your Son,
whom you raised from the dead,
strenghten our hope that all our
departed brothers and sisters
will share in his resurrection,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen
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3 thoughts on “All Souls Day

  1. I love this feast dearly. My mother and father are both almost 90 and I am facing their deaths, sooner than later. I have always prayed for the Souls in Purgatory and today, I pray especially for those Christians in Iraq who were killed by terrorists.

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