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Why do Catholics celebrate All Souls Day?

The Church is composed of the faithful living upon the earth and those who have gone before us. The latter includes the Saints in Heaven and the faithful Souls being purified in Purgatory. Just as on November 1st we honor those who are with God, on November 2nd Catholics celebrate a Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. Also known as All Souls Day, on this day we honor them for their fidelity in life, as well as pray for them, since they are being purified before entering the All Holy Presence of God. As Revelation 21:27 says of the Heavenly Jerusalem, “… nothing unclean shall enter in.”


Does the Catholic Church still believe in Purgatory?

From the earliest days of the Church, Catholics have believed in a place of final purification for the faithful who died. Those who died a martyr were recognized as already with God, since they were perfectly conformed to Christ and His Cross by their martyrdom. For the many believers who never had the opportunity to give such a public witness, the Church offered prayers, especially the Mass, that having been purified from every imperfection they would enter into Heaven. This can be found in many ancient texts, as well as the witness of the catacombs and of tombs. In the Middle Ages the theological explanation was developed and the name Purgatory began to be used, since it aptly describes the belief of the Church from the beginning up until today. 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…. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030-1031)

Is Purgatory Biblical?

While the word Purgatory does not appear in Scripture, the possibility of purification after death certainly does in undeveloped form. For example, in the book of Maccabees, Judas Maccabee sends an offering to the Temple on behalf of his fallen men who had committed a superstitious act (2 Macc. 12:39-45). While this Catholic biblical text is not in the Protestant Bible, owing to its removal by the Reformers, it nonetheless witnesses to the faith of Israel in the 2nd century B.C. In the New Testament, Our Lord advises us to settle our affairs before going before the judge, or else we may be thrown into prison, where we remain until our debt is paid. Mt. 5:25-26 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. This is a basic principle of justice, debts of justice must be paid. We cannot pay our debt to God, it is infinite. Christ paid that debt, uniting our nature to His Divine Nature, and we receive forgiveness when we turn to Him in repentance through those whom He appointed for this purpose (John 20:21-23; 2 Cor. 3:5-6). The temporal guilt, due to the consequences in us, in others, in the good order of society, remain, and we must settle them to the extent we are able—returning stolen money, correcting injury to someone’s good name, asking forgiveness of someone we hurt, physically, emotionally, morally and so on—if not in this life, in the next. It is these debts within our power to repair we cannot simply set aside, whether in life or in death.

“If only you knew with what great longing these holy souls yearn for relief from their suffering. Ingratitude has never entered Heaven.” – St. Margaret Mary

What is the origin of All Souls Day?

The Church had an early practice of remembering the souls of the departed in the Mass. This included inscribing their names on tablets. A version of this is in every Mass today, in the prayer for the faithful departed in Christ known as the Memento of the Dead, as well as in the practice of offering Mass for particular individuals. The celebration of a special day began in some monasteries in the 6th century, and by the 10th century spread to dioceses, becoming fixed in some places to November 2nd, the day after All Saints Day. This date was itself adopted at Rome in the 13th century.

Is All Saints Day the same as All Souls Day?

All Saints Day, on November 1, is in honor of the faithful who are in Heaven. READ MORE On November 2, All Souls Day, we pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory who are being purified before entering Heaven.

What does one do on All Souls Day?

Even though this is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is a good idea to attend Mass on All Souls Day. Also, the day should be spent, at least in part, in prayer for the souls of our loved ones, as well as those who have no one who will pray for them. It is an honored custom, as well, to visit the graves of our deceased on this day, both to pray at the place where their bodies, hallowed in life by the sacraments, await the General Resurrection, and to leave some mark of esteem, such as flowers, to adorn their graves.

“My love urges Me to release the poor souls. If a beneficent king leaves his guilty friend in prison for justice’s sake, he awaits with longing for one of his nobles to plead for the prisoner and to offer something for his release. Then the king joyfully sets him free. Similarly, I accept with highest pleasure what is offered to Me for the poor souls, for I long inexpressibly to have near Me those for whom I paid so great a price. By the prayers of thy loving soul, I am induced to free a prisoner from Purgatory as often as thou dost move thy tongue to utter a word of prayer!” – Our Lord to St. Gertrude

Who goes to Purgatory?

Those who die in the state of grace, yet without having being purified of all of their attachment to sin, go to Purgatory. Christ admonished us to “be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48), and so the purification of all imperfections, which even the good often still have at death, is necessary before entering the Father’s Presence.

What is it like in Purgatory?

Pope St. John Paul II in three addresses on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory explained how the essence of these realities is not a “place,” such as exists in space and time, but the relationship of the soul to God, Who is Love. On His part He is always offering it. On our part, we choose to accept it perfectly, or, we choose to accept it though imperfectly. We can also choose to reject God’s offer of Love. Our choice, whichever it is, becomes fixed at death when the possibility of moral choice ends. This determines our eternal relationship with God. The love of God in the blessed soul is experienced as joy, and in the longing of the soul being purified as fire, mitigated by the knowledge that it will one day be with God, and, by the comfort of the angels, saints and souls on earth praying for it. St. Paul speaks of the fate of the Just when he speaks of the Last Day of human history. 1 Cor. 3:12-15 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. For most of the human race, their “Day” of judgment will be the last day of their life, not the Last Day of history. What Christ has reserved to purify the Just who survive to the End, will purify the Just who die before it, as well; as it will punish the unjust, also by fire.

“Every time you pass a cemetery, it’s time for a little prayer: ‘Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.’ It’s just common sense that you help some of them get out of Purgatory.” – Mother Angelica