Also known as Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or the Hallowmas Season, Allhallowtide is the triduum or three days that encompasses the Western Christian observances of All Saints’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’), and All Souls’ Day. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2014), the word Allhallowtide was first used in 1471 and is derived from two words: the Old English word halig, meaning holy, and the word tide, meaning time or season (cf. Christmastide, Eastertide). The latter part of the word Hallowmas is derived from the word Mass (cf. Christmas, Candlemas, Michaelmas). The word “hallow” is synonymous with “saint”.

Monday, 1 November 2021

All Saints by Fra Angelico (died 18 February 1455)

The Solemnity of All Saints, better known as “All Saints Day”, is celebrated annually on 1 November. This is the liturgical feast when the Church celebrates “all the saints: those numbered in her calendars, canonized or beatified” as well as “the millions of saints known only to God, including Christians we have known in our own lives” (Bishop Peter J. Elliott, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year (Ignatius Press, 2002), n. 393 / p. 186). 31 October is the eve or Vigil of the Solemnity of All Saints, better known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or “Halloween”. This is the first day of Allhallowtide.

In the East such a feast honored the martyrs as early as the 4th century, and was later enlarged to include non-martyrs, celebrated either in an Easter period or on the octave day of Pentecost. In the West relics of martyrs were moved from some catacombs to the Pantheon, and Boniface IV consecrated the building on May 13, 610, under the title of All Martyrs and All Saints and of Our Lady. This title was changed to All Saints in 835 by Gregory III when he dedicated a chapel in honor of All Saints in the Vatican Basilica, and at that time the date was changed to November 1.

~ Rev. Jovian P. Lang, OFM, Dictionary of the Liturgy (1989), p. 20

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

The Day of the Dead (1859) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, better known as “All Souls Day”, is celebrated on 2 November. This is a day when the Church “gathers in solemn suffrage for the souls in purgatory” (Bishop Peter J. Elliott, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year (Ignatius Press, 2002), n. 394 / p. 187). (Nota bene: This somewhat archaic use of the word suffrage refers to intercessory prayers or petitions for the dead.)

Most Christians felt that besides funeral or anniversary rites there should be an opportunity when the ordinary people, good Christians, but not canonized, could be prayed for in the hope that God would allow them also to share in the victory of the risen Christ. At the funeral service Christian hope gives a strong testimony in the anticipated blessed resurrection. Therefore, this solemn memorial day, having been celebrated on different dates in various localities, became fixed on November 2, around the start of the 11th century when Odilo of Cluny chose that date for the commemoration of all the Cluniac houses. It spread from there and was eventually adopted in Rome by the 14th century.

~ Rev. Jovian P. Lang, OFM, Dictionary of the Liturgy (1989), p. 21

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “those who die in God’s grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of their eternal salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God” (n. 1054). “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (n. 1031).

The Church’s doctrine on Purgatory and the practice of praying for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed is rooted in Sacred Scripture:

He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

~ 2 Maccabees 12:43-45

And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

~ Matthew 12:32

If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

~ 1 Corinthians 3:15

So that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

~ 1 Peter 1:7

The following is the Church’s traditional prayer for the faithful departed:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace. Amen.