Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints and All Souls

The following is an educational piece that I wrote for our parish newsletter on All Saints Day and All Souls Day:

“How beautiful and consoling is the communion of saints! It is a reality that infuses a different dimension to our whole life. We are never alone! We form part of a spiritual "company" in which profound solidarity reigns: the good of each one is for the benefit of all and, vice versa, the common happiness is radiated in each one. It is a mystery that, in a certain measure, we can already experience in this world, in the family, in friendship, especially in the spiritual community of the Church.” ~Pope Benedict XVI

We are so blessed as Catholics to have so many heavenly friends in the communion of saints to whom we can look up to as examples of faith and upon whom we can call for prayerful intercession to the Father. Who among us doesn’t have a “favorite” saint or two with whom we can identify in our struggles to live our faith each day? Although many saints are given specific days on the church calendar in which we honor them alone, the Church in her wisdom has dedicated one day each year in which we honor all of the saints in the Church Triumphant (those who are in heaven) and the Church Militant (those still living on earth) including those who are known, as well as those who are unknown to us or to the world at large. Together, the saints living and deceased make up the Communion of Saints, to which we confess our belief in the Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds.

All Saint’s Day is always celebrated on November 1st and it is a holy day of obligation in which all Catholics are required to attend Mass. The solemnity of All Saints Day can be traced back to Pope Gregory III (731-741) who consecrated a chapel within St. Peter’s Basilica to all of the saints on November 1st, and nearly 100 years later the celebration was shared with the entire Church by Pope Gregory IV (827-844.)

All Saints Day is immediately followed by All Souls Day on November 2nd, where we pray for all of our beloved deceased especially those who are part of the Church Penitential (those who are being purified in purgatory.) Our prayers on this day are meant to help those we love to be released from the pains of purgation for their venial sins and to enter into the glories of heaven. The celebration of All Souls Day can be traced back to seventh century monks who wanted a special day to pray for their deceased community members. By the 13th century it was added to the calendar of the Church. Although All Souls Day is not a Holy Day of Obligation, praying for the dead is a spiritual act of mercy so attendance at Mass on this day and the offering of special prayers for the dead is a beautiful way to love and honor those who have passed through life before us.

Please honor the communion of saints with your prayerful presence at Mass on these days!


  1. That is a beautiful piece Anne, most inspiring.
    Blessings and prayers,

  2. Wonderful post, Anne. Reminds me a bit of Fr. Barron's Word on Fire video for today. Have you seen it? Good one:) Happy and holy Feast of All Saints!