All Saints and All Souls Day – Invitation to Prayer and Meditation

The Solemnity of All Saints’ Day on November 1, is a celebration of all Christian saints, known or unknown, canonized or beatified, but more particularly those who have no special feast days of their own. In many countries, including the Philippines, All Saints’ Day is not only for remembering the saints, but also for honoring and paying respects to departed relatives and friends, through prayers, floral and food offerings, vigil, and lighting of candles at gravesites. For Catholics, it is a holy day of obligation, as they go to Mass and participate in ceremonies for the dead.

All Saints Day can be traced back to the eighth century, when Pope Gregory III proclaimed November 1 as a day to honor all saints. Evolving from early celebrations of Christian martyrs in the Eastern Church, it is a celebration of the communion of saints – those who we believe are in heaven, through their good works and God’s grace.All Souls’ Day, on the other hand, has quite a different story. The Church has long recognized the importance of praying for the dead. While family members were free to pray for their dearly departed, the Church did not officially recognize this until St. Odilo, the Abbot of Cluny, declared November 2 as a “Day of All Departed Ones.” He chose November 2 so that all of the saints in heaven and the souls in purgatory would be remembered on consecutive days.It is the first time that people is be able to visit cemeteries since the COVID-19 pandemic began.