November 2nd – Day of the dead and Pious List Explained
Origins – Since the beginning, Christians have prayed for their deceased. It is known that since the 2nd century, Christians visited the tombs of the martyrs to pray for the deceased. In the 5th century, the Church already set aside a day of the year to offer prayers for all the deceased, especially for those who were not remembered or received prayers from anyone. It is known that in 998, Saint Odilon, abbot of Cluny, asked the monks to pray for the deceased. A little later, from the 11th century, Pope Silvestre II (1009), Pope John XVII (1009) and Pope Leo IX (1015) motivated the entire Christian community to dedicate one day of prayer each year for all departed.
November 2nd – In the year 1331, this annual day of prayers for the dead was definitively included in the liturgical calendar, beginning to be celebrated on the 2nd of November. That’s because on November 1, the Feast of All Saints is celebrated. In 1915, because of the death caused by the First World War, Pope Benedict XV issued a decree for priests from all over the world to say three masses on November 2, with the intention of All the Faithful (that is, Christians) departed.
Biblical passages – Catholic doctrine is based on some biblical passages that substantiate the need for prayer for the deceased. These passages are as follows: in the Old Testament: Tobias 12:12; Job 1.18-20 and II Maccabees 12.43-46. In the New Testament: Mt 12,32. In addition to these biblical texts, the Church relies on a Tradition of almost two thousand years.
Souls in Purgatory – After celebrating the day of all saints, we have the day of the dead, when the church prays for all the deceased faithful who have already been saved, but are not yet in heavenly glory but in purgatory. In all the other 364 days of the year, we ask for the intercession of the saints who are in the glory of God, in heaven. On November 2, we do the reverse: we are the ones who ask God for the souls of the faithful, our brothers and sisters, who are in purgatory. And our prayers, if offered with fervour and love for our deceased brothers, can shorten the sufferings they experience while still in purgatory. That is why it is so important to participate in Holy Mass and to raise our prayers to God for all the souls in purgatory. They need our prayers and we can relieve them.
Indulgences – Because of the great importance of praying for the dead, the Church offers indulgences, that is, relief from punishment for our sins, on the day of the dead. In order to receive this indulgence, we need to seek the sacrament of confession, to communion, to pray for the dead in the week before the day of the dead and to participate in Holy Mass on the day of the dead, offering it for the deceased faithful.
Prayer for all the deceased
“O God, that through the death and Resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ you have revealed to us the riddle of death, you have calmed our anxieties and made the seed of eternity that you planted in us to blossom: Grant to your dead sons and daughters the definitive peace of your presence. Wipe the tears from our eyes and give us all the joy of hope in the promised Resurrection. We ask this, through Jesus Christ your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. May all those who sought the Lord with a sincere heart and who died in the hope of the Resurrection rest in peace. Amen.”