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Toronto Catholic District School Board

All Souls' Day

November 2, 2018

 

  1. All Souls Day is a solemn feast of the Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and now are in Purgatory. Those faithful Christians who have died and gone before us must atone for their sins. Purgatory cleanses them so that they may enter Heaven free from all effects of sin.

    Praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is a requirement of Christian charity. Our own prayers and sacrifices can be offered up to relieve their suffering. If you are offering the prayer for a particular person, you can substitute "him" or "her" for "them."

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
    And let perpetual light shine upon them.
    May the souls of the faith departed,
    Through the mercy of God,
    Rest in peace, Amen
     
  2. All Souls' Day is marked on 2nd November directly following All Saints' Day, and is an opportunity for Roman Catholics to commemorate the faithful departed. They remember and pray for the souls of people who are in Purgatory - the place (or state) in which those who have died atone for their less grave sins before being granted the vision of God in Heaven (called Beatific vision).

    Reasoning behind this stems from the notion that when a soul leaves the body, it is not entirely cleansed from venial (minor) sins. However, through the power of prayer and self-denial, the faithful left on earth may be able to help these souls gain the Beatific Vision they seek, bringing the soul eternal sublime happiness.

    A 7/8th century AD prayer The Office of the Dead is read out in churches on All Souls' Day. Other rituals include the offering of Requiem Mass for the dead, visiting family graves and reflecting on lost loved ones. In Mexico, on el dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead), people take picnics to their family graves and leave food out for their dead relatives.

    Whilst praying for the dead is an ancient Christian tradition, it was Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (France) who, in 998AD, designated a specific day for remembering and praying for those in the process of purification. This started as a local feast in his monasteries and gradually spread throughout the Catholic Church towards the end of the 10th century AD.

    For the souls in purgatory, waiting for eternal happiness and for meeting the Beloved is a source of suffering, because of the punishment due to sin which separates them from God. But there is also the certitude that once the time of purification is over, the souls will go to meet the One it desires. Letter of Pope John Paul II for Millennium of All Souls' Day
 
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