fa1623bi_4c-1sBless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

This is my and many families’ typical grace before dinner, with the addition of the last lines of the “Eternal Rest” prayer during November or when grandma is in town.

In many ways All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) are uniquely Catholic. All Saints’ Day celebrates all the men and women, blessed in the eyes of the Lord, who are in the heavenly presence of God. The day is a celebration of the communion of saints, those people we believe are in heaven, through good works and God’s grace. All Saints’ Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church; that is, all those who have attained heaven. Although millions or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints’ Day observances tend to focus on known saints—those who are recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.

All Souls’ Day directly follows All Saints’ Day, and commemorates the faithful departed—those who die in God’s grace and friendship. We pray for those who have died and not yet reached heaven, thus the Eternal Prayer: “Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.” Consistent with teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.

On All Saints’ Day there is a call to live as saints, to remind us how we are supposed to live. On All Souls’ Day, the focus is about all souls and asking God’s mercy for them. The Church takes this day each year to remember all those who have died and “gone before us marked with the sign of faith.” In faith, we believe that we remain united with our loved ones because the Kingdom of God is not bound by death. It is on this day that the “Book of Life” is opened to allow parishioners to write the names of deceased loved ones to be remembered, especially those who have passed away in the past year. At this parish, we place this book next to our baptismal font.

All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation. On All Souls’ Day, to remember the departed, Catholics may light candles or leave flowers on relatives’ graves and some anoint tombstones with holy water. Additionally, Mass will be celebrated on November 2.

In all things and on all days, we pray!