All Souls Day

If someone were to ask me to briefly summarize one of the most unsettling problems in the Catholic Church today, I might be inclined to point to this day, the Feast of All Souls, and note three things: (1) That All Souls Day can be, and this year was, widely celebrated on a Sunday; (2) That priests are neither expected nor encouraged to trinate on the feast (i.e., celebrate three Masses); and (3) The disappearance of the privileged altar. The Ecclesia Militans has abandoned the Ecclesia Penitens. This makes quite a bit of sense in a day and age when we’re told to “dare to hope” about the final destination of all souls, including those who have departed and/or wage war against Christ’s Holy Church.

Let me be clear: The holy souls in Purgatory need our help now more than ever. If we do not abandon them, they will not abandon us when they gain their reward in Heaven. For the remainder of this week, consider dedicating yourself spiritually to gaining a plenary indulgence for a soul still suffering. Consider, too, remembering the most forgotten souls in Purgatory when reciting the Rosary and offer your intention at Mass for their speedy delivery into the arms of our Holy Mother. And if you can, make time to recite the Officium Defunctorum as well. All of these acts, plus the innumerable prayers and petitions given to us by Holy Mother Church, are powerful aids to the holy souls and to ourselves as well.

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  1. mgl
    November 3, 2014

    On praying the Divine Office yesterday morning, I was a little shocked to find that All Souls was treated merely as another Sunday in Ordinary Time. No special hymns, readings, prayers or antiphons, no day-appropriate psalms in the Office of Readings. Even the closing prayer of Lauds–which on Sundays and feasts is usually identical to the Collect for that day–was one of the standard ones. All Saints, by contrast, was given the full treatment. But to your point, that’s a huge missed opportunity to offer prayers for the Poor Souls.

    It may be nothing, but every time I encounter something like this in the modern Church, I suspect Spirit of Vatican II-style foul play. On the other hand, our priest wore black vestments for Mass (Novus Ordo) yesterday and offered a beautiful homily on Purgatory, so the day was far from a total loss.

    Reply
    1. modestinus
      November 3, 2014

      I don’t know what’s stranger: Having All Souls Day on a Sunday or a priest wearing black vestments (!) during it. That is not a knock on your priest. I think it’s just indicative of the confusion caused by allowing ASD to be celebrated on a Sunday. He was clearly trying to keep the spirit of the day.

      In an interesting liturgical quirk, because of the re-ranking and ordering of feasts in 1962, All Souls Day, when transferred, is celebrated in its entirety, including Vespers and Compline. However, under the 1911-1954 praxis, the transferred feast ends at None because Vespers is overtaken by first Vespers of the Feast of St. Charles (Nov. 4).

      Reply
      1. Murray (mgl)
        November 4, 2014

        It seems that black (along with violet) is an appropriate liturgical color for All Souls, or is your puzzlement due to the fact that he should have worn green for a Sunday in Ordinary Time?

        Having read up on it a little more (being a relatively new Catholic), I now see where some confusion lies. Wikipedia says:

        n the Roman Rite as revised in 1969, if 2 November falls on a Sunday, the Mass is of All Souls, but the Liturgy of the Hours is that of the Sunday.

        But yes, our priest was using it as a catechetical opportunity, and he did an excellent job.

        Reply
        1. modestinus
          November 4, 2014

          My point is more that All Souls Day is an inappropriate feast day to celebrate on a Sunday, and as such it should be transferred. Black is, of course, the appropriate liturgical color of the day, but it’s inappropriate for a day when the Lord’s Resurrection should be central. That’s all.

          Reply
          1. Murray (mgl)
            November 4, 2014

            I agree in principle, now that I understand your concern. But given the appalling state of catechesis among lay Catholics these days, I’m glad the opportunity arose.

          2. Diane Marie Kamer
            November 5, 2014

            That’s how I feel, too. Our deacon gave an awesome homily about Purgatory (and why we shouldn’t instantly canonize our deceased relatives). We needed to hear this!

            Quite a far cry from my mother-in-law’s funeral Mass in Louisville, back in 2001, where the priest said, with a smirk and a snicker, “Of course we don’t believe in that Purgatory stuff anymore.” Thankfully that priest has long since retired. It’s still a fairly liberal parish, though. Affluent and liberal — a deadly combo.

            I pray for my mother-in-law’s soul all the time. She was a practicing Catholic and a very sweet person, but not an Instant Saint, believe me. (A lot nicer than I am, but that’s not saying much.)

    2. dianeski
      November 4, 2014

      Our priest and deacon wore beautiful black and gold vestments. I just figured they were supporting the local team, Wake Forest.

      I jest, I jest. It was a beautiful Mass with a very powerful homily. But we are unusually blessed with an amazing bishop, priest, and deacon.

      Reply
  2. Dale
    November 5, 2014

    I do not know the new Calendar, and have no interest in it either, but according to the old Calendar almost all of the Sundays of Pentecost are Doubles (although in some places they are semi-doubles) as is the feast of All Souls, but only feasts of a Double of the 1st or 2nd class take precedent over a Sunday of a Double or semi-Double. The correct manner, in the old rite (not 1962) would be that the Sunday takes precedent and All Souls should have been commemorated. To wear black vestments on a Sunday is more than strange, it is contrary to the rubrics. But then again, I have no idea what goes on in the new Calendar, but it is still strange to wear black on any Sunday. Perhaps it would have been better, with episcopal approval, to have transferred All Souls, especially if the three Masses were celebrated including a Requiem High Mass, to the first Ferial.

    Reply
    1. modestinus
      November 6, 2014

      Dale,

      Under the ordo for both 1962 and the reprint one I have from St. Lawarence Press covering 1939 (plus feasts introduced up until 1954), when All Souls falls on a Sunday, it is transferred to November 3, which is a ferial day on the 1962 calendar and a day in the Octave of All Saints prior to 1962 (the octave, like most, was abolished in the 1950s). So yes, that is the sensible decision to take. The only thing I was trying to note above is that when, prior to 1962, All Souls is transferred to November 3, First Vespers for St. Charles supersedes the Vespers of All Souls Day (and Compline as well).

      Reply
      1. Dale
        November 9, 2014

        Yes Modestinus,

        This is the proper way to have handled the situation (transferring the first ferial); actually the traditional rubrics state that even if a requiem Mass is celebrated on a Sunday, and only a votive one, it cannot be celebrated in fulfillment for the Sunday obligation. I am wondering, for those whose parishes did, against the older tradition, celebrate the mass of All Souls, was the blessing given?

        I am sorry, I am old, and have never been part of the new rite, so it all just seems so very, very odd to me.

        Reply
  3. Diane Marie Kamer
    November 5, 2014

    Off-topic: Gabriel, I notice you’ve decamped from Facebook. Was it something I said? 😉

    Reply

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