As we transition into November, we will be taking part in what is called Allhallowtide. This consists of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. It is considered the triduum of death. It is even a reminder that our lives on earth are temporary and that we must prepare for our eternal home, in which all the angels and saints praise and worship the Lord God of Hosts.
All Hallow’s Eve
All Hallow’s Eve falls on October 31st. For many it is referred to as Halloween, which is an earlier pagan celebration of the New Year. However, on the Vigil of All Saints Day, Catholics remember all of those who have entered their eternal home and intercedes for us before the Lord.
All Saints’ Day
On November 1st, the Catholic Church commemorates all the men and women who have obtained the title of saint. It is considered a day to celebrate the church’s triumph in heaven and the lives of saints on earth.
These holy men and women of God lived for the glory of Christ rather than seeking their own glory. In the words of Saint John of the Cross, “whoever does not seek the Cross of Christ, doesn’t seek the glory of Christ. As the children of the fallen parents, Adam and Eve, we are not perfect. However, “God put us on this earth to know, to love and to serve him and so to come to paradise” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1721).
To be a saint requires us to move from selfishness to selflessness. A lot of our saints had a dark past. A lot of them had to undergo many challenges and difficulties in order to become what God wanted them to be. To many of these saints, most of the challenges came from their own family. “Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in” (Psalms 27:10). To our saints, their sufferings and struggles were tied upon the Cross of Christ. This is how they became extraordinary men and women of faith. “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering” (St. Augustine). Oftentimes this quote by St. Augustine can help us to realize that our sufferings too can be tied upon the Cross of Christ, just like how our saints have done.
All Souls’ Day
On November 2nd, the Catholic Church commemorates all of the faithfully departed especially the souls that are in purgatory. For many it can be a day to visit cemeteries, decking of graves, and praying for all who have died. It is considered a Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Latin: Commemoratio omnium fidelium defunctorum).
Purgatory is considered a purification for those who have died with sins on their souls that were never forgiven. Many have either not confessed all venial sins or have not fully atoned for past transgressions prior to their death. The faithful on earth have a job to pray, give alms, and offer Holy Mass for them to be purified on their process to go to heaven.
The practice of praying for the purification of the dead has its origins in the Second book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:42–46).
St. Gertrude reminds us, ““For I trust, in whatever manner I die, that I shall not be deprived of the mercy of my God, without which my eternal ruin would be inevitable, whether I die an unprepared death, or whether I have long anticipated my end.”
St. Gertrude reminds us that we will meet God face to face. It is up to use to prepare for that moment.