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Feasts of All Saints, All Souls express our belief in the communion of saints

The Catholic observance of the feasts of All Saints, Thursday, Nov. 1, and All Souls, Friday, Nov. 2, launch a month-long commemoration of the dead. Because All Saints is such an important feast, it is a holy day of obligation for Catholics in the Unites States.

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Since the eighth century, the solemnity of All Saints marks a day when we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place, canonized or beatified, who are now in heaven. Some were famous; others lived smaller lives going about God's business on earth relatively unnoticed.

Related:

Why does it help to turn to the saints when we pray? 

We are all called to lives of virtue and holiness and the saints are friends and intercessors who can inspire us toward this goal! Saints are people who are aflame with the Holy Spirit; they keep God's fire burning in the Church. Even during their earthly life, the saints prayed ardently, in a way that was contagious. At Mass on All Saints Day, we praise and thank God for their example, their selflessness, and their holiness. We express our faith that they are now around God’s throne, where they “sing his praise forever.” And we ask them to give us “both strength and good example” so that one day we will meet them when we enter eternal life with God. 

The feast of All Souls

All Souls' Day, officially known as “The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed” is observed on Friday, Nov. 2 this year. This is when we remember people who were more like us – the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory or in process. The faithful on earth can assist these souls in purgatory in attaining the heaven through their prayers, good works and the offering of Mass.
 
At Mass on All Souls Day, we pray that through Christ’s loving mercy, God’s “departed servants…may be granted pardon and peace, and be brought to the joy of God’s eternal home. All Souls Day is an especially rich cultural experience for Hispanic/Latino Catholics, who call it "Día de los Muertos" or "The Day of the Dead."
 
These November traditions express our belief in the communion of saints – of which we are already a part. As one of our prayers at Mass reads "with death, life is changed not ended." Our Masses and prayers this month voice our hope that Christ will eventually bring all of us home, together.

Additional resources

All Saints Day, Feast of All Souls and Dia de los Muertos (Cathedral of Saint Andrew)

Two Great Feasts: All Saints and All Souls (For your marriage, Catholic 101)

​Prayers for death and dying (USCCB)

​Vatican guidelines on cremation (CNS, Oct. 2016)

​Ask a priest about holy days of obligation (GR Diocese YouTube Channel)

Things to do:

  • Visit a cemetery and pray for the dead during the Octave of All Saints' Day. This gains a plenary indulgence that can be applied only to the souls in purgatory. On other days, this work gains a partial indulgence.
  • Spend a little time after Mass thanking God for all the unnamed saints, some of whom could be our own relatives.
  • Have a special meal and if you have young children have them dress up like saints and play games.
  • Craft Project for Children - Make Cupcakes for All Saints/ Celebrando Todos los Santos con Pastelitos (Catholic Diocese of Dallas)
  • Pray the Litany of the Saints -- you could make it really special by chanting it ("he who sings prays twice"). (Eternal Word Television Network)

Photo: Communion of Saints, courtesy of Ave Maria Press