November is the special month when the Church remembers the Holy Souls. Of course, we can remember our departed loved ones at any time but in November, we make a special effort to pray for them and have Masses said for them.
Parishes usually have a system whereby we can make a list of our deceased relatives which may be placed on the altar during the month of November or the names included in the special Masses which are offered up for them.
The Feast of the Holy Souls is on 2nd November, the day after the Feast of All Saints on 1st.
The custom of remembering the Holy Souls in our prayers dates back to the early Church. In fact there is a wonderful quote in the Old Testament: “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead” (2 Mac. 12:46)
Monica, the mother of
"Bury my body wherever you please. Let that not be your concern. Only one thing I beg of you: at the Lord's altar, wherever you may be, remember me."
(Confessions, IX, 11)
In November, the nation, too, remembers those who have died in the wars. The Sunday nearest 11th November, is Remembrance Sunday when at war memorial throughout the country, people solemnly remember the dead with a religious ceremony conducted by the local clergyman.
If we wish to have a Mass offered especially for a deceased relative, we can approach our own Parish Priest with such a request. Often there is a special envelope in the church porch on which we can write the details and usually include a stipend (offering) for the priest if we can afford it. In days gone by, the amount suggested was the cost of maintenance for the priest for a day! These days, at least a fiver is recommended but of course, if someone was destitute, a priest would not expect a stipend!
The Communion of Saints
This is a phrase which refers to all the faithful, living and dead:
The Church Triumphant - those who are in heaven
The Church Militant - those who are still on this earth (ourselves
The Church Suffering - those who have died and have not yet gone to heaven.
The Church teaches that some souls may be in Purgatory as a time of preparation before they receive their reward in heaven. Of course, we do not know which souls are in Purgatory!
Prayer for the Holy Souls
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen