Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
Saint of the Day for November 2
The Story of the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
The theological underpinning of the feast is the acknowledgment of human frailty. Since few people achieve perfection in this life but, rather, go to the grave still scarred with traces of sinfulness, some period of purification seems necessary before a soul comes face-to-face with God. The Council of Trent affirmed this purgatory state and insisted that the prayers of the living can speed the process of purification. 1
Decree on Purgatory – Council of Trent – Crossroads Initiative
The Council of Trent here affirms the existence of purgatory and the great value of praying for the deceased. Yet at the same time it sternly instructs that preachers not distract, confuse, and mislead the faithful with unnecessary speculations concerning the nature and duration of purgatorial punishments. From the fifth session, 1563.
The Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Spirit and in accordance with sacred Scripture and the ancient Tradition of the Fathers, has taught in the holy Councils and most recently in this ecumenical Council that there is a purgatory and that the souls detained there are helped by the acts of intercession (suffragia) of the faithful, and especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar.
Therefore this holy Council commands the bishops to strive diligently that the sound doctrine of purgatory, handed down by the Holy Fathers and the sacred Councils, be believed by the faithful and that it be adhered to, taught and preached everywhere.
But let the more difficult and subtle questions which do not make for edification and, for the most part, are not conducive to an increase of piety (cf. I Tim. 1:4), be excluded from the popular sermons to uneducated people. Likewise they should not permit opinions that are doubtful and tainted with error to be spread and exposed. As for those things that belong to the realm of curiosity or superstition, or smack of dishonorable gain, they should forbid them as scandalous and injurious to the faithful.
Related Canon 30 from the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification (Sixth Sesssion, 1547)
30. If anyone says that after the grace of justification has been received the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out for any repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid, either in this world or in the other, in purgatory, before access can be opened to the kingdom of heaven, anathema sit [“let him be anathema” or excommunicated].
A modern translation of the Decree on Purgatory by the Council of Trent, 25th session, 1563.
Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God’s presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death. 1
1.Franciscan Media. 2016. Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed – Franciscan Media. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/commemoration-of-all-the-faithful-departed/. [Accessed 02 November 2016].
Image. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Author. GO69 19 September 2010
File:Troyes (10) Basilique Saint-Urbain Statue de Saint-Odilon.jpg – Wikimedia Commons. 2016. File:Troyes (10) Basilique Saint-Urbain Statue de Saint-Odilon.jpg – Wikimedia Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Troyes_(10)_Basilique_Saint-Urbain_Statue_de_Saint-Odilon.jpg. [Accessed 02 November 2016].
2.Crossroads Initiative. 2016. Decree on Purgatory – Council of Trent – Crossroads Initiative. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/decree-on-purgatory-council-of-trent/. [Accessed 02 November 2016].