All Saints and All Souls: Celebrations of the dead.


Halloween is over. The portals between one world and another have been shut. Contact with spirits has ceased. The pumpkins are on their way to the compost heap.

In my childhood however, today November 2, the Feast of All Souls was the day we thought about our dead. It began the day before with the Feast of All Saints. In Poland when my Mum was growing up, that was the day when she would have to go to the cemetery, after Mass with her family to light candles and pray for the souls of the departed.

Being brought up in England we didn’t do this, but we did have to go to church to celebrate all those who were now living joyfully in heaven. The path to everlasting bliss not being an easy one there were some souls who were still waiting in the wings. Because they had to make reparation for the sins they had committed when alive they had been consigned to purgatory for a set period.(Purgatory, the Church taught, in those days, was half way station. Neither Heaven nor Hell much of its pain consisted of guilt for what you had done, and longing for forgiveness.)

If we went to Mass and said the right prayers then their time of suffering would be cut short and by mid-night tonight they could join in others in eternal happiness.

Primitive beliefs, perhaps, but it gave a measure of comfort to those who were grieving.
A better alternative to the trick or treating of our more materialistic Halloween?

Halloween Pumpkin

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