From the Pastor: All Saints Day and All Souls Day
This Wednesday is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (online at newadvent.org), it is a “Solemnity celebrated on the first of November. It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year.” We are honoring those who have made it to Heaven. Not just those who have been officially recognized by the Church but rather everyone that, through the merits of Christ, now enjoys the Beatific Vision of God.
The last part of the encyclopedia’s description should wake us up to a very important aspect of this celebration. Those who have been officially declared Saints by Holy Mother Church deserve to be always honored and to receive proper love and respect, especially on their feast day. Again quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments.” Only a relatively minuscule number of good, holy Catholics are able to meet the strict requirements of proof that they are now in Heaven and that their lives upon this earth are worthy of study and emulation. (It is, as a comparison, much easier for any ball player to be named to the Hall of Fame than for any Catholic to be named a Saint.) Once this has been established, however, they are to be held in great esteem. They are supposed to be our role models and heroes, more-so than even the greatest Hall of Famer.
Even so, we sometimes forget about them, neglect our duties to honor them or only half-heartedly remember them even while attending (or even celebrating) Mass on their feast days. How many people have forgotten who they chose as a Patron Saint on the day of their Confirmation? How many children were named after a particular Saint due to their parents’ devotion to that Saint or on account of their birthday falling on a Saint’s feast day yet they never even ask for that Saint’s intercession, let alone offer up prayers of thanks for assistance given?
All Saints Day gives us the opportunity to make amends for our neglect, our disrespect, or our simple forgetfulness. What a blessing for both us and the Saints! We, the Church Militant, enter into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated in honor of those who have won the battle of good versus evil, the Church Triumphant. We ask for the grace to learn from them, to imitate them, and to love them (and thus, God) more deeply. They, in turn, must be all aglow with pure love and compassion for those of us still struggling through life and gladly pray that we become even more holy than themselves.
Then on Thursday, All Souls Day, we celebrate Mass to pray for the Church Suffering or the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Though not a day of obligatory Mass participation, those who recognize just how difficult it is to have already perfectly atoned for all temporal punishment due to previously forgiven sins at the time of death make every effort to get to Mass that day. Throughout the month, but especially on November 2, we pray for those who died in a state of grace yet perhaps not completely perfect in their love of God and neighbor and we offer our sufferings, our alms, our fastings, and our acts of charity on their behalf. This year I didn’t put out any All Souls envelopes and nobody noticed, nobody asked for one, and, as of this writing, nobody has given me a list of their departed family and friends whom they wish to have remembered at Mass. So it looks like if you wish them to be prayed for by name (I will still pray for them in general), you are going to have to attend Mass and pray for them yourselves! The Church also offers, from November first through the eighth, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, to those who visit a cemetery and pray for the departed (and complete the other stipulations for plenary indulgences, namely, sacramental confession, Communion, prayers for the holy intentions of the Pope and detachment from sin). Our simple mortification leads to a Poor Soul’s purification, allowing their final glorification. And we grow holier doing it!
Come join in the celebrations! Become a Saint, help others to do so as well, and honor those who have already made it. The Mass schedule for both days will include the normal 6:30 am and 8:00 am Masses and both days will also have an extra 7:00 pm Mass. The evening Mass on All Souls Day will be a Solemn High Mass if everything goes as planned. This is something we hope to be able to do more often in the future, as more and more clergy become interested in assisting at the Traditional Latin Mass. Thank you for your continuing prayers in this regard!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka