Today is All Souls Day
Today, November 2, is All Souls Day, in which we recall our non-canonized ancestors in faith, pray for them, and ask for their prayers in turn.
In Mexico (and, increasingly, in Southern California), November 2 is also celebrated as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead); families build home altars on which they place pictures of deceased loved ones and/or visit their loved ones at their place of internment. It is a time of year to recall that our loved ones who have passed away are not really gone, but awaiting us in God’s glory.
Why We Pray for the Dead
We say prayers, not only for those whom we knew and loved, but also for the "poor souls". Explain to your children about praying for the "poor souls" who may have no one else -- no families, no children or grand-children -- to pray for them. This is an act of charity that we can perform for them.
Be sure to mention that that respect for the dead is part of respect for all human life which comes from God. Our heavenly Father gave us life, and we are all infinitely precious to Him, and he wants us all to be with him in heaven forever. We can see, then, how a denial of death, or a refusal to accept pain, sorrow, and suffering as part of life, is really a denial of the value of life and love.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church secton on Purgatory (1030-1032) explains that "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).
The Catechism states that "From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice... The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead" (1032).
The feast of All Souls is a reminder to pray for the "faithful departed". Although they are members of the Communion of Saints, have been saved and will one day be in heaven, they need to be perfected before they can go to Heaven, that is, to come into full unity with the perfection that is God.
We hope your school-age children have an opportunity to attend Mass on All Souls day. (If this is already not on your parish school's schedule, do suggest that it be added!)