Today was the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, otherwise known as All Souls’ Day. Immediately following yesterday’s Feast of All Saints, today the Church encourages us to pray for the Faithful Departed. For priests it can be a very busy day – well busier than normal. The opportunity is there to celebrate three Masses:
- for the particular intention
- for all the Faithful Departed
- for the intentions of the Holy Father
We have to thank the Cluniac Order for the date as it was decreed by St Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (died 1048) that special prayers and the Office of the Dead be said for all the souls in Purgatory on 2 November after All Saints’ Day. Soon after it became established in the Calendar of the whole Church.
The three Masses that can be said by any priest was an extension to the universal church of customs that had started with the Dominicans in the fifteenth century. Pope Benedict XV extended it during World War One as a result of the number of war dead and the Masses that could not be said because of destroyed churches.
Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord
And let light perpetual shine upon them.