November: Month of the Holy Souls


November is a month traditionally dedicated to praying for the dead, starting with the Hallowtide Triduum

All Hallows Eve

October 31 is the Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of ‘All Saints’.

Solemnity of All Saints

Wednesday, November 1 is the great Solemnity of All Saints. We rejoice and give thanks for the many saints in heaven, holy men and women who have fought the good fight and received the unfading crown of glory. Where they have gone we hope to follow. An important focus of this feast is that we are called to be saints, to strive for holiness and to be another Christ. “All you saints of God, pray for us” (Litany of Saints).

All Souls Day

Thursday, November 2 is All Souls Day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (1030). “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them.”

During the month of November you may wish to consider preaching on the Last Things (Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell). This is a month where we traditionally pray for the dead, so it seems natural to address the Last Things in your Sunday homilies where appropriate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an excellent resource along with the following:

Pope Benedict’s 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi, §10-12 and §30-31 (eternal life and God’s Kingdom). The encyclical as a whole is a beautiful meditation on hope and the meaning of our salvation.

There are also two familiar readings from the breviary. St. Ambrose on the Blessing of Death, Vol. IV Liturgy of Hours (Office of Readings) Saturday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time and St. Cyprian on Man’s Morality, Vol. IV Liturgy of Hours (Office of Readings) Friday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time.

Cardinal Newman, Sermon 1. Holiness Necessary for Future Blessedness. This is a
reflection on heaven. He presents a very interesting perspective.