On November 1st, the Church celebrates All Saints Day.
All Saints day is the day that the Church celebrates all the saints. This Solemnity honors all the Saints that have been canonized by the Church as well as all the saints which are known to God alone.
The Saints are the men, women, and even children who have glorified God during their lives on earth and now enjoy His Presence in Heaven. During their earthly lives, some Saints were religious (priests, brothers, nuns/sisters) and some were laypeople (single or married). There are Saints from every race, nationality, and language.
An excerpt from the first reading for the Mass of the Solemnity of All Saints:
“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed:
“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me,“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” ~Revelation 7:9–14
The saints provide a wonderful example for us who are still on earth. They too had struggles and difficulties, but they persevered and by the grace and strength of God they completed their missions and now enjoy the perfect happiness and peace of Heaven.
On November 2nd, the Church celebrates All Soul’s Day.
All Soul’s Day is the commemoration of all the faithful departed, all those who have died in God’s friendship. This was instituted in the Benedictine Monastery of Cluny by Abbot Odilo in the year 998 and then spread to the whole Church.
Those who have died in God’s friendship are either now in Heaven or in Purgatory.
“Those who have died in the grace of God and have no need of further purification are gathered around Jesus and Mary, the angels and the saints. They thus form the Church of heaven where they see God ‘face to face’(1 Corinthians 13:12). They live in a communion of love with the Most Blessed Trinity and they intercede for us.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
“Purgatory is the state of those who die in God’s friendship, assured of their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification to enter into the happiness of heaven.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church) These souls are referred to as the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
It is important to note that according to various Saints of the Church, the sufferings of Purgatory are like sufferings that souls suffer in hell. The only difference is that the sufferings a soul endures in Purgatory end when the soul has been purified enough to enter Heaven. The suffering of a soul in hell on the other hand is eternal and thus will never end.
We, “the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering prayers in suffrage for them, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice. … by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins” (2 Maccabees 12:46).
*The Eucharistic Sacrifice is another name for the Holy Mass (also The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass). We can have Masses offered for them or offer the Masses we attend for them. We can also offer to God our reception of Holy Communion for the relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
*Prayers: We can offer any prayers for their release from Purgatory, especially the Holy Rosary and St. Gertude’s prayer. Jesus promised St. Gertrude the Great to release 1000 souls in Purgatory each time this prayer is said:
“Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.”
*Works of Penance: An example is making The Way of the Cross (Stations of the Cross) specifically for the souls for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. We can even offer our sufferings for their relief.
***Indulgences: “Indulgences are the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. The faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains the indulgences under prescribed conditions for either himself or for the departed.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church)
**Conditions for gaining indulgences:
One can obtain either a plenary (full) or partial indulgence by:
1) Going to Confession
2) Receiving Holy Communion
3) Then, reciting prayers for the Pope’s Intentions (such as 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be)
4) Completing a particular work to which an indulgence is attached.
Here are some examples: Adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament for at least 30 minutes, praying at least 5 decades of the Rosary in a Church, praying at least 5 decades of the Rosary as a family/in a Pious Association/in a Religious Congregation, making the Way of the Cross, and especially between Nov. 1 — Nov. 8 visiting a cemetery to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, etc.).
*The four criteria mentioned above for gaining an indulgence should be completed within days of each other if not all on the same day.
An indulgence is Plenary if one has no attachment to sin, but otherwise it is Partial.
In God’s infinite wisdom and mercy, He made a place for souls to be purified if they die in His friendship, but are not yet pure enough to enter Heaven.
We must remember that God is holy. Only what is holy can enter into God’s Presence.
“Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.” ~ Psalm 24
When St. John recounts his vision of the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, he said, “But nothing unclean shall enter it.” (Revelation 21:27)
Also in the New testament, Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”(Matthew 5:8)
Both Solemnities remind us that we need to strive for holiness. We need to purify ourselves each day by daily prayer, true repentance for our sins, frequent Confession, frequent attendance at the Holy Mass, frequent reception of Holy Communion, and penance. We must grow in holiness each day. As we grow in holiness, we must strive to do whatever work God has given us in a way that will honor, glorify, and please Him.
We must remember that each of us will have to render an account of our lives to Jesus either when we die or when Jesus returns in glory at the end of the world.
May we each grow in holiness each day, so that when we die or when Jesus returns in glory, we will be ready to meet Him!
More Resources on Purgatory:
- “Purgatory Explained: By the lives and legends of the Saints”~Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.