It always seems to come like a jarring jolt that pulls us up short.
After the joy of All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day itself, I mean.
The clocks have changed and the evenings draw in so dark and ever-earlier.
Suddenly its upon us – All Souls’ Day.
And indeed a whole month dedicated to prayer for the souls of our faithful departed.
This is the mercy of the Church in action. Before we end up the liturgical year acclaiming the Kingship of Christ in all things and entering once more into the childlike awaiting of Advent.
The Church never fails to remind us. Death. The End. The Four Last Things.
As an altarboy in childhood I remember our parish priest always told us that every priest may celebrate Holy Mass three times on All Souls’ Day. We understood that there were special graces to be obtained for the dead on that day.
In fact, it was Pope Benedict XV who granted that permission to priests, in 1915, during the carnage of the First World War.
The very first Masses offered by Pope St John Paul were three Masses on All Souls’ Day 1946. Having been ordained the previous day, he offered his first Masses for his deceased mother, father and brother, as I recounted in my CTS biography of him.
The subject of my most recent CTS biography, the Servant of God Chiara Lubich, foundress of a worldwide movement, took praying for the dead very seriously and did so every day after Holy Communion and also in her daily Rosary.
She made a point of preparing and being with those members of her Movement who lived near her headquarters who were dying whenever she possibly could, as I recount in that booklet.
The traditional reading on All Souls’ Day is from the Second Book of the Maccabees:
It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins (2 Maccabees 12:46)
Let us not waste the chance. Let us not squander the Mercy.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
Jim Gallagher is a journalist, author and translator who has written four popular CTS biographies. His books have been translated into several languages including Icelandic, Chinese, Polish and Farsi.