Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Saints, All Souls--All to Our Edification.

November 1 is the Feast Day of All Saints and November 2 is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day). We wish to revive observances of these holy days on the Church calendar, especially over and above the much abused custom of All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

Complicating matters this year, these two great feasts fall on a Saturday and a Sunday. All Saints' Day is a holy day of obligation, though that obligation was commuted this year. Of course, many parishes do still have Mass for the feast and today, in a special way, many faithful Catholics venerate all the saints--named and unnamed.

Novus Ordo Masses for All Souls Day will be on Sunday, November 2nd. However, Catholics celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Latin Mass) will not be observing All Souls Day in the Sunday Mass. In the 1962 Missal, the Mass of the Sunday takes precedence, and the All Souls' Masses (three of them!) are moved to Monday, November 3rd, as explained here.

We in the Sodality often think of the Communion of Saints as a large social network. The Communion of Saints includes not only those canonized by the Church, but also other souls who are in heaven--all of these, even if we don't know their names or give them their own memorial, are part of the great Church Triumphant.
You can listen to the common Litany of the saints here
And this Communion chant for All Saints’ Day Mass here

In fact, these two holy days together bring to mind all states of the Church: the Church Triumphant (those souls in heaven), the Church Suffering (in purgatory) and the connection both of these have with the Church Militant (those of us still working out our salvation on earth). Those designations are explained here. This weekend, let us call to mind the "cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) and be ever more faithful to Christ and His Church.

All Souls' Day brings our attention to those Holy Souls who are in Purgatory, being purified before they enter heaven (these are the Church Suffering). We faithful on Earth, the Church Militant, besides asking for the intercession of the saints in heaven, ought to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory to aid their journey. It cannot be known for certain where any uncanonized individual is in the afterlife, but we may pray for all as an act of goodwill and charity. Remember, it is one of the chief spiritual works of mercy to pray for the living and the dead.

 Here is a video of a Latin All Souls Day Requiem Mass. Observe the black vestments, the  catafalque covered in black, and the prayers for the dead as at a traditional Requiem Mass. Some of us in the Sodality are especially attached to the text of the sequence Dies Irae and Mozart's incomparable setting of the Requiem Mass.

Throughout the month of November, as we end the liturgical year, we as Catholics are especially attentive to mourning the dead and to remembering our own end. Between now and Advent, readings in both the Traditional and Novus Ordo Masses move toward apocalyptic topics, as we acknowledge that at some time, Christ will return to end Satan’s power once and for all. In the Novus Ordo calendar, the end of the liturgical year will culminate with the Feast of Christ the King on November 23 (this feast is celebrated on the last Sunday in October in the traditional calendar, close to All Saints' Day rather than close to Advent).

Editor's note: this post was composed (well in advance!) by scovich. Due to largely unforeseen editorial delay, it is posted later than expected.


  1. I'd like to point out a few similar feasts in which people may be interested.

    On November 7, Dominicans celebrate the Feast of All Dominican Saints (don't ever say that I never link to NCR), and on November 8, Dominicans commemorate all the deceased of their order.

    Similarly, on November 29, Franciscans celebrate the Feast of All Franciscan Saints (don't ever say that I never link to anything Franciscan). I imagine other orders have similar feasts, but these are the ones of which I'm aware.

    Lastly, I'm just going to leave this link right here...

  2. Triple play, Matt. What more can I say? (Except that you should warn people about that last link--it's powerful stuff and known to have strange effects on strange people.)

    In honor of the O.P.'s Nov 7th feast, I'll post my favorite bit from the Dominican Little Office--the prayer to all the Saints of the Dominican Order as said at Lauds. (Don't ever say I never post English translations).

    Antiphon. O what happiness and glory belong always to the saints, how distinguished the merits of the Preachers, by whose words and deeds the world is adorned, by whose works the mind grows stronger. [O quam felix gloria semper est Sanctorum, quam præclara merita sunt Prædicatorum, quorum verbo et opere mundus decoratur, eorumque munere mens consolidatur! Yes, the Latin version has an exclamation point that is not in the printed English translation. And, yes, the mundus decoratur...mens consolidatur is rhetorically wonderful.]
    V. The saints shall be joyful in glory.
    R. They shall sing for joy on their couches.
    Let us pray
    Grant we beseech You, Almighty God, that the examples of the saints of our Order may incite us to a better life; that we may imitate the deed of them whose memory we celebrate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    And I did not know that about the Franciscan feast of Franciscan saints. I have a brother/godson with a Nov 29th birthday. I had a passing thought just now that he might have chosen St. Francis as his confirmation saint a couple of years ago, but I just called and was reminded it's Peter. Ah, well--missed opportunity. Blame his godmother.

  3. Well, there are a few Franciscan saints named Peter, so that could still work.

    Hmm, I suppose a warning would have been in order. Something like "I don't always post blog comments, but when I do, they end in the Day of Wrath [Dies Irae]"