Tuesday, November 1, 2005
The Feast of All Saints
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"The Landauer Altarpiece, All Saints Day" by Albrecht Durer (1471 - 1528) , 1511, oil on panel, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria, 123 x 135 cms

Solemnity (1969 Calendar): November 1
Double of the I Class (1955 Calendar): November 1

Today is a great day in the Church year because it is All Saints Day - a Day of Holy Obligation for most countries, meaning all Catholics must attend Mass today. 

For today's traditional Mass Propers, please click here. Today, we remember all of those saints now in Heaven, both known and unknown, and reflect on their lives. Saints are great role models. Go read some of my posts on the Saints and read about a few of them - see that Heaven isn't easy. All Saints Day is preceded by the Vigil of All Saints (i.e. Halloween) which is traditionally a day of fasting and abstinence in preparation for today's great holy day.

The Catholic Encyclopedia provides a short account of the history of All Saints Day:

In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnize the anniversary of a martyr's death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (379) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honoured by a special day. Other saints were added gradually, and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established; still, as early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a "Commemoratio Confessorum" for the Friday after Easter. In the West Boniface IV, 13 May, 609, or 610, consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary. Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November. A basilica of the Apostles already existed in Rome, and its dedication was annually remembered on 1 May. Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The vigil seems to have been held as early as the feast itself. The octave was added by Sixtus IV (1471-84).

Indulgences for This Time of Year (Each Paragraph is a separate one):
The faithful who recite prayers or perform other devout exercises in supplication for the faithful departed during the month of November, may gain a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions daily for the entire month. 
Those, who during the aforesaid month, take part in public services held in a church or public oratory in intercession for the faithful departed may gain a plenary indulgence, if they attend these exercises on at least fifteen days and, in addition, go to confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff (Jan. 17, 1888)

The faithful, as often as they visit a church or public oratory, or even a semi-public oratory (if they may lawfully use the same), in order to pray for the dead on the day on which the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed is celebrated (November 2nd) or on the Sunday immediately following, may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls detained in Purgatory, on condition of confession and Communion, and the recitation six times during each visit of Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff (June 25, 1914)

The faithful who during the period of eight days from the Commemoration of All Souls inclusive, visit a cemetery in a spirit of piety and devotion, and pray, even mentally, for the dead may gain a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, on each day of the Octave, applicable only to the dead.

Raccolta Source
The Toties Quoties Indulgence

Additionally, from noon on All Saints Day through midnight of All Souls Day, the Catholic faithful, as often as they visit a church to pray for the dead, reciting six times during each visit the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intentions of Holy Mother Church may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, under the usual conditions of making a good Confession within a week before or after, worthily receiving Holy Communion within the week and having the right intention of heart. 

Besides assisting at Holy Mass today, consider praying the Rosary at night in anticipation of All Souls Day tomorrow. And keep in mind, prior to 1955, there was an Octave Associated with All Saints!  In the midst of that Octave was the Feast of the Sacred Relics.  Let's keep the memory of these past traditions alive.

Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast enabled us to honor in one solemn feast the merits of all Thy Saints: we beseech Thee, that, with so many praying for us, Thou wouldst pour forth on us the abundance of Thy mercy for which we long. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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