Friday, July 11, 2008

Days of the Dead

The entire month of November is devoted to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and Rosaries for the dead are offered during this time (with the Eternal Rest prayer replacing the Fatima prayer as above). The month-long devotion to the Souls in Purgatory begins with the three consecutive "Days of the Dead" at the end of October and early November: The Days of the Dead are:

All Hallows' Eve: 31 October, the day on which we unofficially recall the realities of Hell and how to avoid it;
All Saints Day, or All Hallows' Day: 1 November, the day on which we officially honor God's Saints of the Church Triumphant; and
All Souls Day: 2 November, the day on which we officially commemorate and pray for all the faithful departed of the Church Suffering.

Some Catholics might pray a Novena for the Holy Souls, the All Souls Novena, or some other such Novena beginning on 24 October and ending on All Saints Day (the eve All Souls Day). Then, after sunset on All Saints Day, we light a candle (preferably one that that had been blessed at Candlemas) and pray the Rosary for the dead. The next day, 2 November, being All Souls Day, we can offer public prayer for the dead by attending one of the three Masses offered for the dead on that day. We also visit the graves of our family members, seeking those special indulgences for them that are only offered on All Souls Day and during the Octave of All Saints:
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, may be gained on the 2nd by making a pious visit to a church to pray a Pater and the Creed, and
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, may also be gained fron 1 November to 8 November by visiting loved ones' graves and praying the Eternal Rest prayer for their peace.
We are not limited to indulgences for the dead on these Days of the Dead, however. Indulgenced works, prayer, votive offerings, alms-giving, etc., may always be offered for the dead, at any time of the year. Note that those in Purgatory are also especially remembered on Ember Days. Also note that because those in Purgatory are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Church Militant, all the above prayers, indulgences, and works for the dead are offered by way of beseeching God to apply them for the relief of the Church Suffering.

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