November – a month for the dead

Traditionally, the Catholic Church sets aside the month of November to remember the dead. Last year was the first year I really recognized this tradition. Chris and I went to the Nashville Dominican’s All Saints’ Day vigil mass. It was a beautiful vigil complete with Vespers, a candlelit procession, readings on the lives of four holy men and women, and veneration of saints’ relics. Sadly the veneration and Litany of the Saints were cut short by tornado sirens.

November 1 is All Saints’ Day, the day when we honor the holy men and women who have made it to heaven. These are the Saints, not the football team.

November 2 is All Souls’ Day, the day when we remember and pray for the faithful departed. These are the souls in Purgatory.

“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”(2 Macch. 12, 46)

Excluding the saints recognized by the Church, we can’t know who is in heaven, purgatory (preparing for heaven), or hell, so we are called to pray for them all. We assume the souls we are praying for are in purgatory and offer our prayers to alleviate their sufferings and hope that they get to heaven soon. So while we can ask the saints in heaven to pray for us, we can pray for our brothers and sisters on their way to heaven.

November - a month for the dead

All that to say that the whole month of November is dedicated to praying for the souls in purgatory. Last year, I prayed for a deceased family member or friend each day. I plan to do the same this year, offering my daily rosary for a specific soul. Please let me know if you have someone(s) you would like me to pray for in the comments or by messaging me privately. 

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