A forum of Catholic Thought


All Souls Day and the Catholic Cemetery Association

Help us expand our reach! Please share this article on social media

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The faithful are encouraged to remember their beloved dead in the particular prayers, scriptures, and celebrations of this time of the liturgical year.

The month of November, including All Saints and All Souls Days, is a special time in the Church's calendar. The faithful are encouraged to remember their beloved dead in the particular prayers, scriptures and celebrations of this time of the liturgical year. They are invited to visit the resting places of their beloved dead, to inscribe the names of their loved ones in the Book of the Names of the Dead, and to pray at all times for the repose of the souls of not only their own beloved dead but also all the faithful who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising, including those who have no one to pray for them. We celebrate in communion with all the angels and saints and the communion of believers who have preceded us in death.

The Catholic cemetery serves the Catholic faithful and the wider community as a place of peace and prayer, where the tradition of the Catholic-Christian faith and the resting places of the dead are held in sacred trust.

There is nothing more important to the Catholic Cemetery Association than the health and wellbeing of the families we serve as well as our own families and friends. Hundreds of you have devotedly gathered with us each year at the Holy Cross Mausoleum Chapel in Malden or Calvary Mausoleum Chapel in Waltham for our annual All Souls Mass. With social distancing guides in place and our concern for the health of all, we will not be having public services at this time.

We invite all to join us virtually by logging into www.harborview.live as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for All Souls Day in the Mausoleum Chapel on Monday, Nov. 2, at 6:30 p.m.

This All Souls celebration promises to be one of joyous, reflective remembrance. We hope you will join us, virtually and, more importantly, spiritually as we pray for those who have gone before us.

Some information and history of All Souls Day in our Catholic Faith: Often overshadowed by the two days preceding it, Halloween (Oct. 31) and All Saints Day (Nov. 1), All Souls Day is a solemn feast in the Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and now are in Purgatory, being cleansed of their venial sins and the temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had confessed and atoning before entering fully into Heaven.

The importance of All Souls Day was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (1914-22), when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one for the faithful departed; one for the priest's intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. Only on a handful of other very important feast days are priests allowed to celebrate more than two Masses.

While All Souls Day is now paired with All Saints Day, which celebrates all of the faithful who are in Heaven, it originally was celebrated in the Easter season, around Pentecost Sunday (and still is in the Eastern Catholic Churches). By the 10th century, the celebration had been moved to October; and sometime between 998 and 1030, St. Odilo of Cluny decreed that it should be celebrated on Nov. 2 in all of the monasteries of his Benedictine congregation. Over the next two centuries, other Benedictines and the Carthusians began to celebrate it in their monasteries as well, and soon it spread to the entire Church.

On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery. Normally, the plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained every day from Nov. 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence, on any day of the year. However, the Vatican recently announced that this year the plenary indulgence can be obtained throughout the month of November because of restrictions on travel and gathering sizes in many places due to the pandemic. While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory.

Praying for the dead is a Christian obligation. In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church's teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of All Souls Day is a good way to begin the month.

For additional information about Mass, our cemeteries, or the Catholic Cemetery Association, please contact me, Jim Brasco, or one of our fine family service coordinators at 781-322-3600 or visit www.ccemetery.com.

James Brasco is director of marketing and sales of the Catholic Cemetery Association of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Help us expand our reach! Please share this article on social media

Recent articles in the Culture & Events section