The Catholic Church is structured in such a way that she has a common feast day for All Saints. This day is the day that all saints are remembered, especially those who have no special feast days of their own. It is held on every November 1 and serves as a great opportunity for the faithful to remember all saints and martyrs known and unknown, throughout Christian history. It is a solemn, holy day dedicated to these saints who have attained heaven.
Although, millions of people may be saints, All Saints Day observances tend to focus on known saints who are recognized in the Canon of the saints by the Catholic Church. So, for Catholics, it is a holy day of obligation which means that they are expected to attend Mass on that day, unless they have a genuine excuse such as a serious illness.
The feast of All Souls comes up immediately after the feast of All Saints. All Souls Day is celebrated on every November 2nd. It is a day set out for the commemoration of all the baptized faithful departed who are believed to be in purgatory because they died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls. In the Catholic Church, while All Saints commemorates the Church Triumphant of saints in heaven, All Souls commemorates the Church Penitent of souls in purgatory.
Praying for these souls in purgatory is very important because, according to the Roman Catholic Doctrine, the intercessions by earthly church members can cleanse these departed souls and prepare them for heaven.
Catholics are expected to book masses for their dead relatives on All Souls Day, say prayers for them and give alms to the poor and needy. They are also expected to attend masses on both feast days. Most times, the masses on All Souls Day are said at the cemeteries. The Masses on All Saints Day are however said right inside the church and all Catholics are obligated to be in attendance.
Other countries have different rules surrounding these feast days according to their National Bishops Conferences as the Bishops have the right to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of that day.
As we join other faithful across the world to celebrate this year’s double feasts, we pray that God will grant the souls of the faithful departed eternal rest in His Kingdom.