Today is the day after the Solemnity of All Saints and is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls). This feast, dating back to the 11th Century, is a time to remember all of the faithfully depart and pray that they are now in the grace of God. God certainly is Love and He is mercy. The only thing we can do is trust in Him and pray for our loved ones.
This feast, dating back to the 11th Century, is a time to remember all of the faithfully depart and pray that they are now in the grace of God. God certainly is Love and He is mercy. The only thing we can do is trust in Him and pray for our loved ones.
In the middle of the 11th century, St. Odilo, the abbot of Cluny (France), said that all Cluniac monasteries were to offer special prayers and sing the Office for the Dead on November 2, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread from Cluny and was adopted throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church. Now the entire Church celebrates November 2nd as All Soul's Day.
During the First World War, Pope Benedict XV on August 10, 1915, allowed all priests everywhere to say three Masses on All Souls' Day. The two extra Masses were in no way to benefit the priest himself: one was to be offered for all the faithful departed, the other for the Pope's intentions, which at that time were presumed to be for all the victims of that war. The permission remains.
It has and always will be a pious and holy practice to pray for the repose of the souls who have passed on to the next life. However, in the past few decades the occurrence of prayers said for the souls in purgatory and their blessed repose have fallen into such disuse that such a lack of charity for their souls is an atrocity. For generations, Catholics would pray for the souls of the faithful who have gone before them in the sleep of death and hope in the future resurrection.
It is a traditional and pious practice with references not only in the Magisterium of the Church but also through the Holy Scriptures. As stated in the holy book of Maccabees: "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2 Maccabees 12:46). In 230 A.D., Tertullian writes, "The widow who does not pray for her dead husband has as good as divorced him."
For the Souls in Purgatory
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted each and every day from Nov 1 to Nov 8, who devoutly visit a cemetery and there pray, if only mentally, for the departed.
All Souls’ Day – Plenary Indulgence
A plenary indulgence is granted the faithful who, on All Souls’ Day (or according to the judgment of the bishop, on the Sunday preceding or following it, or on the solemnity of All Saints), devoutly visits a church or an oratory and recites an Our Father and the Creed.
Requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence:
- Do the work while in a state of grace,
- Receive Sacramental confession within 20 days of the work (several plenary indulgences may be earned per reception),
- Receive Eucharistic communion (one plenary indulgence may be earned per reception),
- Pray for the pope’s intentions (Our Father and Hail Mary, or other appropriate prayer, is sufficient),
- Have no attachment to sin (even venial) – i.e., it is sufficient that the Christian makes an act of the will to love God and despise sin.
- Only baptized persons in a state of grace who generally intend to do so may earn indulgences.
- Indulgences cannot be applied to the living, but only to the one doing the work or to the dead.
- Only one plenary indulgence per day can be earned (except for prayer at the hour of one’s own death).
- Several partial indulgences can be earned during the same day.
- If only part of a work with plenary indulgence attached is completed, a partial indulgence still obtains.
- If the penance assigned in confession has indulgences attached, the one work can satisfy both penance and indulgence.
- Confessors may commute the work or the conditions if the penitent cannot perform them due to legitimate obstacles.
- In groups, indulgenced prayer must be recited by at least one member while the others at least mentally follow the prayer.
- If speech/hearing impairments make recitation impossible, mental expression or reading of the prayer is sufficient.
- For an indulgence attached to a particular day requiring a church visit, the day begins at noon the day before and ends at midnight.