Friday, November 02, 2007

All Souls Day

NOVEMBER IS THE MONTH of the Holy Souls, and during this month it is customary to visit cemeteries and to pray for the departed. To encourage this custom, the Church grants plenary indulgences for the poor souls to any of the faithful who visit cemeteries (Coemeterii visitatio) during the first eight days of November, under the usual conditions, and to those who visit a church or public oratory on All Souls Day (Visitatio ecclesiae vel oratorii in Commemoratione omnium fidelium defunctorum).

Prayer for the dead, the Church proposes, is not merely a custom and discipline of the Catholic Church, but instead is a part of the natural law recognized as binding on all men; indeed, prayers for the dead are found everywhere in the world and throughout history. Ignoring the dead in prayer is an innovation of the modern West, and shows a selfish heart.

Catholicism is traditionally not a squeamish religion, and for examples of bone chapels, the Dance of Death, catacombs, and such forth, see a compendium of related postings over at The Lion and the Cardinal.

The liturgy for All Souls Day is the funeral liturgy, and the traditional Requiem aeternum Mass is something to behold. The traditional vestments for funerals and All Souls Day are black, but with gold threading, which represents sorrow with hope. For those in Saint Louis, I would recommend tonight's 7:00 p.m. Requiem Mass at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.

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