The Feast Of All Souls' Day
Season Of The Undying Human Spirit
By: Gruyere Morgan Neatens
ARTWORK RICARDO PUSTANIO
In Western Christianity, All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. This day is observed in the Roman Catholic Church, churches of the Anglican Communion, Old Catholic Churches, and to some extent among Protestants. The Eastern Orthodox Church observes several All Souls' Days during the year. The Roman Catholic celebration is based on the doctrine that the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for mortal sins, cannot attain the beatific vision in heaven yet, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass .
Feast of All Souls; Defuncts' Day; Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. What ever you call it it is the day the dead from all the ages are closes to us. Next to Shrove Tuesday the Devil's day and Yule. Of course it is one ogf the best days and times to hunt for real ghosts to investigate.
All Souls' Day is also known as the Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. The official Latin designation Commemoratio omnium Fidelium Defunctorum, on which this last name is based, is rendered more literally in Portuguese Comemoração de todos os Fiéis Defuntos and many other languages. Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos or de los Difuntos) is used in Spanish-speaking countries, and Thursday of the Dead (Yom el Maouta) in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.
The Western celebration of All Souls' Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints' Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision. If 2 November falls on a Sunday, the Mass is of All Souls, but the Office is that of the Sunday. However, Morning and Evening Prayer (Lauds and Vespers) for the Dead, in which the people participate, may be said. In pre-1969 calendars, which some still follow, All Souls Day is instead transferred, whenever 2 November falls on a Sunday, to the next day, 3 November, which is the case for this year in 2008.
The Eastern Orthodox Church dedicates several days throughout the year to the dead, mostly on Saturdays, because of Jesus' resting in the tomb on Saturday.
Demons and Devils and evil of all kinds are said to haunt the living on this day also. sometimes taking human shape and preying on the innocents that long to connect with a poor lost soul.
The custom of setting apart a special day for intercession for certain of the faithful departed is very old. But the celebration of general intercession on 2 November was first established by St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) at his monastery of Cluny in 998. The decree ordaining the celebration is printed in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum (Saec. VI, pt. i. p. 585). From Cluny the custom spread to the other houses of the Cluniac order, which became the largest and most extensive network of monasteries in Europe. The celebration was soon adopted in several dioceses in France, and spread throughout the Western Church. It was accepted in Rome only in the fourteenth century. While 2 November remained the liturgical celebration, in time the entire month of November became associated in the Western Catholic tradition with prayer for the departed; lists of names of those to be remembered being placed in the proximity of the altar on which the sacrifice of the mass is offered.
Feeding the dead!
Feeding the Dead. Some cultures consider food to be so important that they continue to feed a person even after death. The nourishemnet of life keeps them closer to us many belive. There is a strange unreal logic to this. If our spirits live on after death and suddenly we find we can no longer partake in the privileges of being alive, such as eating, we might miss being able to do so!
A legend became associated with the institution of the celebration. According to Jesse Voyles in his Life of St Odilo, a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land was cast by a storm on a desolate island. A hermit living there told him that amid the rocks was a chasm communicating with purgatory, from which perpetually rose the groans of tortured souls. The hermit also claimed he had heard the demons complaining of the efficacy of the prayers of the faithful, and especially the monks of Cluny, in rescuing their victims. Upon returning home, the pilgrim hastened to inform the abbot of Cluny, who then set 2 November as a day of intercession on the part of his community for all the souls in purgatory.
Among Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians there are several All Souls' Days during the year. Most of these fall on Saturday, since it was on a Saturday that Jesus Christ lay in the Tomb, and are referred to as Soul Saturdays. They occur on the following occasions:
(In the Serbian Orthodox Church there is also a commemoration of the dead on the Saturday closest to the Conception of St. John the Baptist—23 September)
Saturdays throughout the year are devoted to general prayer for the departed, unless some greater feast or saint's commemoration occurs.
Catholic teaching regarding
prayers for the dead is bound up inseparably with the doctrine of purgatory and the more general doctrine of the communion of the saints, which is an article of the Apostle's Creed. The
of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV), "that
exists, and that the
detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the
, but especially by the acceptable
", is merely a restatement in
teaching which had already been embodied in more than one authoritative formula -- as in the
Waldenses by Innocent III in 1210 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 3 73) and more fully in the profession of faith accepted for the
Palaeologus at the Second
Council of Florence in 1439: "[We
] likewise, that if the truly penitent die in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by worthy fruits of
for their sins of commission and
, their souls are purified by purgatorial pains after death; and that for relief from these pains they are benefitted by the suffrages of the
in this life, that is, by
, prayers, and almsgiving, and by the other offices of piety usually performed by the
for one another according to the practice [instituta] of the Church" (ibid., n. 588). Hence, under "suffrages" for the dead, which are
and efficacious, are included not only formal supplications, but every kind of pious work that may be
benefit of others, and it is in this comprehensive sense that we speak of prayers in the present article. As is clear from this general statement, the Church does not recognize the limitation upon which even modern Protestants often insist, that
prayers for the dead, while
and commendable as a private practice, are to be excluded from her public offices. The most efficacious of all prayers, in Catholic teaching, is the
public office, the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Coming to the proof of this doctrine, we find, in the first place, that it is an integral part of the great general truth which we name the communion of saints. This truth is the counterpart in the supernatural order of the natural law of
are not isolated units in the
, any more than in domestic and civil
. As children in Christ's Kingdom they are as one family under the
of God; as members of Christ's mystical body they are incorporated not only with Him, their common Head, but with one another, and this not merely by visible
bonds and external co-operation, but by the invisible bonds of mutual love and sympathy, and by effective co-operation in the inner life of
. Each is in some degree the beneficiary of the
activities of the others, of their prayers and good works, their
and satisfactions; nor is this degree to be wholly measured by those indirect ways in which the law of solidarity works out in other cases, nor by the
agents. It is wider than this, and extends to the bounds of the
. Now, as between the living, no Christian can deny the reality of this far-reaching
; and since death, for those who die in faith and
, does not sever the bonds of this
, why should it interrupt its efficacy in the case of the dead, and shut them out from benefits of which they are capable and may be in need? Of very few can it be
that they have attained
holiness at death; and none but the perfectly
are admitted to the vision of God. Of few, on the other hand,
they at least who love them admit the
thought that they are beyond the pale of
and mercy, and condemned to
separation from God and from all who
to be with God. On this ground alone it has been truly said that purgatory is a postulate of the Christian
; and, granting the
of the purgatorial state, it is equally a postulate of the Christian
in the communion of saints, or, in other words, be helped by the prayers of their brethren on earth and in heaven.
is King in purgatory as well as in heaven and on earth, and He cannot be
to our prayers for our loved ones in that part of His
, whom he also
while He chastises them. For our own consolation as well as for theirs we want to believe in this living intercourse of
with our dead. We would
it without explicit warrant of
, on the strength of what is otherwise
to the promptings of
affection. Indeed, it is largely for this reason that Protestants in growing numbers are giving up today the joy-killing doctrine of the Reformers, and reviving Catholic teaching and practice. As we shall presently see, there is no clear and explicit warrant for
prayers for the dead in the
recognized by Protestants as
, while they do not admit the Divine authority of extra-Scriptural
. Catholics are in a better position.
The Office of the Dead is a prayer cycle of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Roman Catholic Church, said for the repose of the soul of a deceased. It is the proper reading on All Souls' Day (normally November 2) for all souls in Purgatory, and can be a votive office on other days when said for a particular deceased. The work is composed of different psalms, scripture, prayers and other parts, divided into First Vespers, Mass, Matins, and Lauds. The editor is not known, but the office as it exists today is no older than from 7th or 8th century. A well known refrain from the cycle is Timor mortis conturbat me, "The fear of death confounds me" or, more colloquially, "I am scared to death of dying". The word dirge comes from it.
The origins of All Souls' Day in European folklore and folk belief are related to customs of ancestor worship practiced worldwide, such as the Chinese Ghost Festival or the Latin American Day of the Dead.
In Tirol, cakes are left for them on the table and the room kept warm for their comfort. In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones, and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls.
In Bolivia, many people believe that the dead eat the food that is left out for them. Some claim that the food is gone or partially consumed in the morning.