All Souls Day – the Faithful Departed

November 2, 2012

An Angel Frees Souls from Purgatory c. 1610, Ludovico Carracci, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca, Vatican

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Church Triumphant – all those who ran the good race and by the grace of God finished.  When we are agitated and troubled over events or situations in our lives, we can be comforted by the fact that we have an enormous crowd praying for us, cheering us on toward that perfect charity that comes from the mercy seat of God.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Church Suffering – all those who having departed this life, are still being purified and readied to join the Church Triumphant. St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (Benedictine), established in his Order towards the end of the tenth century a general commemoration of all the faithful departed which soon spread to the whole Western Church. This is why we say, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace. Amen” at the end of every hour of the Divine Office.  Praying for the dead is so important that the Church makes it part of our sacred liturgy.

The Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and we, the Church Militant, are bound together by the bonds of charity. We practice acts of mercy, charity, and piety when we pray for the dead.

St. Augustine wrote:                                                                      

Grant, O Lord, that I may experience a reasonable sorrow at the death of those who are dear to me, shedding tears of resignation over our mortal condition, yet soon restraining them by this consoling thought of the faith: in dying, the faithful have only withdrawn a little from us to go into a better world.

May I not weep as do the pagans who are without hope.  I may have reason to be sad, but in my affliction hope will comfort me.  With hope so great, it is not fitting, O my God, that Your temple should be in mourning.  You dwell there, You who are our Consoler; and You cannot fail in Your promises.

St. Gregory Nazianzen wrote:

O Master and Creator of the universe, Lord of life and death, You give our souls being and fill them with blessings: You carry out and transform everything by the work of Your Word, at the time foreordained and according to the plan of Your Wisdom; receive, today, our deceased brethren and give them eternal rest.

May You welcome us, in our turn, at the moment pleasing to You, after having guided us and left us in the body for as long as You think useful and salutary.

Made ready in Your fear, without trouble and without delay, may You receive us on the last day.  Grant that we may not leave the things of this world with regret, like those who are too much attached to earth and the flesh; grant that we may advance resolutely and happily toward that blessed and unending life which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

For more on purgatory, Why the Catholic Church Prays for the Dead, Easy Chaplet for the Poor Souls, Indulgences Applied to the Poor Souls, and Pie Jesu Domine – Gabriel Faure.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Friday, November 2nd, 2012 Catholic Church, liturgy, suffering

4 Comments to All Souls Day – the Faithful Departed

  1. Great article. Love the prayers, especially St Augustine’s.
    Colleen recently posted..Love God With All Our Heart

  2. Colleen on November 4th, 2012
  3. St. Gregory’s “Grant that we may not leave the things of this world with regret, like those who are too much attached to earth and the flesh” – got my attention. Realized with greater clarity that we leave our bodies behind for a while. Wonder what that’s like after all the fuss we make over them here,even if only to keep us going. Have to think on that some more.
    Joann recently posted..Religious Liberty–Archbishop Aquila

  4. Joann on November 4th, 2012
  5. Beautiful prayers, Barb, and beautiful article! Thanks so much for sharing the beauty of our Catholic Faith. God bless you….
    Ellen Gable Hrkach recently posted..In Name Only Photo Endorsement

  6. Ellen Gable Hrkach on November 5th, 2012
  7. Joann, I think it will be very freeing to “shuffle off these mortal coils” as Shakespeare wrote, knowing that we will, on the Last Day, be given a perfect body that we no longer need to be concerned with – food, shelter, clothing, illness, etc. I don’t know what such perfect integrity of body and soul is like, in that perfect union with God, but it’s got to be something worth waiting for. Imagine, no pain. Ever. Meanwhile, I’ll take care of this one to the best of my ability so as to do the will of God.

  8. barb on November 5th, 2012


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