All Saints Day / Holy Day of Obligation
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
8:05 am (School Mass)
All Souls Day
Thursday, November 2, 2017
7:00 pm Mass of Remembrance
All Souls Background by Paul Turner
Crisp autumn chill penetrates our sweater-wrapped bodies to remind us of our weakness before the power of nature. As leaves fall from trees, plants die and animals retreat, we feel the impending threat of death that waits to take us home.
During this season of the northern hemisphere’s year, the church celebrates the feast of All Souls. As our bodies and minds resign themselves to the inevitable cessation of life, our church calendar brings forth a somber feast to fit our temperament on these increasingly darkened days.
The solemnity of All Souls comes as an afterthought to that of All Saints. Having commemorated all the blessed who enjoy the face of God in their death, we turn our thoughts to the other souls who await the fullness of God’s glory. The sequence of these two feasts implies a belief that those who have lived lives of holiness enjoy God’s presence and can intercede for us before the throne of God. The feasts also imply that others, having lived more sinful lives, still await that glory. These are the dead we remember every November 2 members of our families, friends, the lonely and forgotten, and public figures who have touched our lives. On this day we pray that God will have mercy on them and grant them the vision of blessedness for which they longed.
The liturgy for this day still offers three Masses. When the church created this feast in the Middle Ages, it became so popular that priests were given the unusual permission to celebrate three Masses that day. The permission remains, as do the separate texts for the Masses, even though not every parish takes advantage of the permission. The readings are drawn from the collection of texts we use for funerals.
When the church gathers for prayer on November 2, we still remember the faithful departed, even when it falls on a Sunday. Those who assisted us in life receive assistance from us in their death. This feast celebrates our union with the church in every place and beyond all time.