St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood

For it is in giving that we receive.

All Souls Day

more than a day to remember


All souls day OR the commemoration of all faithful departed is remembered on the 2nd November, or if this day falls on a Sunday then the following day, however this year (2019) it falls on a Saturday, and allows the commemoration of All Saints day to follow on nicely, and is seen as an extension of Allohallowtide.

This day gives Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholic churches a chance to commemorate and remember their faithfully departed loved ones.

It was During the English Reformation that this observance lapsed, however differing Anglican theological understanding and views led to a widespread understanding of this day and an acceptance of this commemoration among Anglicans, it was felt that it was on this day when we particularly remember those who have died, the prayer appointed for the day remind us that we are very much joined with the Communion of Saints that great group of Christians, who have come to the end of their earthly life and with whom we hope to one day to share the resurrection from the dead, and so this day became fused with All Saints Day and All Souls day was in the judgement of some repealed or literally done away with.

It wasn’t until a 19th century group calling themselves 

The Oxford Movement (this was a movement of high church members of the Church of England which eventually developed into Anglo-Catholicism) reinstated this day in certain parishes, and, now today in the Church of England with the 1980 Alternative Service Book. It features in Common Worship  as a lesser festival called "Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day)”


However, according to the Catholic belief the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. 

The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. 

The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. 

The intermediate option (Third) is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser sin must go.

Purgatory they say is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven.

Now this is where this little explanation, to me gets interesting.

The belief in purgatory has not always been without a lot of controversy and debate.

There have certainly been to some immoral abuses of this doctrine in order raise money for the Church during the renaissance period.

Famously, the 16th century German priest and monk Marin Luther argued with the monk Johan Tetzel over the sale of these indulgences.  

Indulgences were sold as a kind of spiritual pardon to the uneducated and poor and would be applied to the souls of the dead or sometimes the living to supposedly get people into heaven.

The abuse and fraudulent practice of selling indulgences for money led to Luther’s protest at the church.

When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he omitted the seven books of rules which refer to prayers for the dead. 

He then introduced an unorthodox belief that people are simply saved, plain and simple, or not, and argued that there is no need to pray for the dead to get them into heaven.

The Church reeled from Luther's accusation, and reformed its practice of selling indulgences. 

However, it reemphasized the Biblical and traditional practice of praying for the departed and the importance of such prayers.


All Souls Day is today celebrated in much of the western world on November 2. Other Churches have their own celebrations. The Eastern Orthodox Church has several such days throughout the year, mostly on Saturdays. All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation. It should not be confused with All Saints' Day, which is a holy day of obligation.

Many cultures also mark the day differently. In North America, Americans may say extra prayers or light candles for the departed. In parts of Latin America, families visit the graves of their ancestors and sometimes leave food offerings for the departed.


So, today of all days shouldn’t just be about the dead, it should also be about the living, a special day about families and children and their ancestors.  So make today an annual event about remembering, bring out all those old photos, and if you have them family trees, update them, add stories from the older members of the family to them, preserve for the future what you have to hand now, and most importantly enjoy the day with your family.