Feast of All Souls Day

As we celebrate the feast of All Souls day, Fr Paul reads today from Matthew’s Gospel (11: 25- 30) in which Jesus says come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.

Fr Paul says All Souls Day and, in fact all of November, is a time to remember.  The commemoration of all the Faithful departed is celebrated on 2 November each year and from this date, the Church extends the month of November as a month of remembering and praying for all those who have died.

Our Christian tradition of praying for those who have died has its origins in the Jewish faith.  The Jews have a firm faith in redemption and in the resurrection of the dead and so praying for those who have died is very much a part of their faith and that is what has been handed on to us.

>From the days of the early Christian martyrs, it has been very common for the Faithful, to gather in cemeteries and even to have a picnic among their deceased.

By the Middle Ages, visiting graves on All Souls Day was a well-established custom where people would leave flowers, light candles and sprinkle holy water.  They did all this as they prayed for those who had died.  In some countries around the world, such as Mexico for example, it is still common practice for families to have picnics around family graves to remember them.

In the Middle Ages it was also common for monasteries of the various orders to pray for those who had died according to their local custom.  As a result, the Church eventually established today, 2 November, as the official date for the remembrance of All Souls.

As we reflect today, Fr Paul says we might remember our family and friends who have gone before us  and take a moment to think of them and to pray for them. Using one of the prayers that comes as an option as an entrance antiphon for today’s feast Fr Paul invites us to pray:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace, Amen.