Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Souls' Day

November 2 is All Souls' Day. Today Roman Catholics commemorate and pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, undergoing purification of their sins before entering heaven.

The theological basis for this feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, cannot not yet attain the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, alms, deeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.

In the early days of Christianity the names of the departed brethren were recorded on tablets. Later, in the sixth century, the Benedictine monasteries commemorated their deceased during Pentecost. In Spain, there was such a day on Saturday before before Pentecost, at the time of St. Isidore (d. 636). In Germany there existed a ceremony of praying to the dead on 1 October. St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to he held annually in the monasteries of his congregation. From there, it spread among the other congregations of the Benedictines and among the Carthusians to various dioceses.

On this day, three requiem Masses are celebrated: one for the celebrant, one for the departed, and one for the Holy Father.
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