The Feast of All Saints and the Memorial of All Souls
This week the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints. This solemnity dates back to the earliest centuries of the Church. When Christians were martyred by the Roman authorities, their local community would celebrate the anniversary of the martyrdom. The number of saints quickly surpassed days in the year, and the custom of celebrating all of the saints together developed. There still remained, as is the case today as well, of celebrating certain saints on their own feast day, but these are the select few who had a particular impact on the universal Church. There are also, of course, many souls in heaven who have not been canonized by the Church. We celebrate them, along with the canonized saints, on the Feast of All Saints. Please consider coming to the Holy Hour and Mass on Wednesday evening to celebrate the Saints and to pray for the conversion of sinners. Many grave sins are committed on Halloween, so we must respond with more fervent prayers.
The day after All Saints is the Memorial of All Souls. As Catholics we continue believe in the reality of Purgatory. The Catechism states: “All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC, 1030-1031). It is important to pray for those who have died. Scripture teaches, "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin" (2 Macc. 12:46). By continuing to pray for our departed loved ones, and in particular by having Masses offered for the repose of their souls, we assist them in being purified of their sins.