Feasts of All Saints and All Souls: their special meaning for Catholics

During the month of November, the Church remembers in a particular way all those who have died, as She celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints and that of All Souls’ Day.

All Saints’ Day is celebrated each year on Nov. 1, a day on which we honor all the Saints in heaven, both those known and unknown. All Saints’ Day is also a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said, “the celebration of All Saints’ Day reminds us that we are all called to holiness, to become Saints, and we can accomplish that by striving to follow God’s commands and being united with Him in love. To be holy, to be a Saint, means allowing God ‘to live his life in us’ as Mother Teresa taught.”

Pope Francis said the Saints were not “starched,” picture-perfect conformists, but were “countercultural and revolutionary.” The Holy Father added that the multitude of men and women honored on the feast of All Saints lived according to the Eight Beatitudes, which made them decidedly out of place in the world.

Having a Saint to pray to is an important component of one’s faith life, Bishop Dewane said. One can pray to the Saint after whom you are named, but if someone is not named after a Saint, praying to the Saint of one’s chosen middle, or even the Saint of one’s Confirmation is appropriate. An alternative is to pray to the Saint after which your Parish is named, or even one who is a patron of a particular profession or interest you are pursuing.

There are four Diocesan Parishes which have Feast Days in November. First, Nov. 4 is the Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Parish and School in Port Charlotte); Nov. 10 is the Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Parish in Bonita Springs); Nov. 13 is the Memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Parish in Parrish); and Nov. 22 is the Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Parish in Fort Myers).

“Learn about these Saints that are a part of your life,” Bishop Dewane said. “Read about the extraordinary story behind their being named a Saint. As Pope Francis often states, the Saints can offer examples for our lives. This greater accessibility to a particular Saint can help enhance one’s prayer life and opens our hearts to seek their intercession when we are lost in the world.”

The commemoration of the Feast of All Souls, or the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, is celebrated on Nov. 2, for all the souls who await the joys in heaven.

“It is encouraged that you pray for immediate family members, those closest to you, who have gone before us. Continue to pray for them as they make their way to Heaven, to be with Jesus Christ, Our Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “Through the prayers of the faithful on earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven. May all those who have died in faith share the joys and blessings of the life to come.”

During November, it is encouraged to have a Mass offered for the intention of the soul of someone who has died. In addition, an indulgence is granted the faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in purgatory. This indulgence is a plenary one from Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 and can be gained on each one of these days.