This is a Holy Day of Obligation on which we celebrate the Church Triumphant
-- all the Saints in Heaven, canonized or unknown.
After Noon today, and until Midnight tomorrow, a person who has been to
Communion can gain a plenary
indulgence, under the usual conditions, for
the poor souls in Purgatory (who will be commemorated tomorrow) each time
he visits a church or public oratory and recites the Our Father, the Hail
Mary and the Glory be to the Father six times. This is a special exception
to the ordinary law of the Church according to which a plenary indulgence
for the same work can be gained only once a day. Some of the grave-visiting
customs described on the entry for
All Souls Day, then, may
begin today in some places.
In anticipation of All Souls' Day tomorrow, when night comes on this day,
we darken the room, light a candle blessed at
Candlemas, and pray
the Rosary for our dead. Praying the 129th Psalm
(the De Profundis) and/or the Litany of the Saints would also be lovely.
You can download the Litany, in Microsoft Word .doc format, in
English or in
You can also download the following reading for All Saints' Day -- St. Gregory
Thamaturgus (b. A.D. 213) -- in Microsoft .doc format by
clicking here (2 pages).
On All the
By St. Gregory Thamaturgus
Grant thy blessing,
It was my desire to be silent, and not to make a public display of the rustic
rudeness of my tongue. For silence is a matter of great consequence when
one's speech is mean. And to refrain from utterance is indeed an admirable
thing, where there is lack of training; and verily he is the highest philosopher
who knows how to cover his ignorance by abstinence from public address. Knowing,
therefore, the feebleness of tongue proper to me, I should have preferred
such a course.
Nevertheless the spectacle of the onlookers impels me to speak. Since, then,
this solemnity is a glorious one among our festivals, and the spectators
form a crowded gathering, and our assembly is one of elevated fervour in
the faith, I shall face the task of commencing an address with confidence.
And this I may attempt all the more boldly, since the Father requests me,
and the Church is with me, and the sainted martyrs with this object strengthen
what is weak in me. For these have inspired aged men to accomplish with much
love a long course, and constrained them to support their failing steps by
the staff of the word; and they have stimulated women to finish their course
like the young men, and have brought to this, too, those of tender years,
yea, even creeping children. In this wise have the martyrs shown their power,
leaping with joy in the presence of death, laughing at the sword, making
sport of the wrath of princes, grasping at death as the producer of
deathlessness, making victory their own by their fall, through the body taking
their leap to heaven, suffering their members to be scattered abroad in order
that they might hold their souls, and, bursting the bars of life, that they
might open the. gates of heaven.
And if any one believes not that death is abolished, that Hades is trodden
under foot, that the chains thereof are broken, that the tyrant is bound,
let him look on the martyrs disporting themselves in the presence of death,
and taking up the jubilant strain of the victory of Christ. O the marvel!
Since the hour when Christ despoiled Hades, men have danced in triumph over
death. "O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory?" Hades
and the devil have been despoiled, and stripped of their ancient armour,
and cast out of their peculiar power. And even as Goliath had his head cut
off with his own sword, so also is the devil, who has been the father of
death, put to rout through death; and he finds that the selfsame thing which
he was wont to use as the ready weapon of his deceit, has become the mighty
instrument of his own destruction.
Yea, if we may so speak, casting his hook at the Godhead, and seizing the
wonted enjoyment of the baited pleasure, he is himself manifestly caught
while he deems himself the captor, and discovers that in place of the man
he has touched the God. By reason thereof do the martyrs leap upon the head
of the dragon, and despise every species of torment. For since the second
Adam has brought up the first Adam out of the deeps of Hades, as Jonah was
delivered out of the whale, and has set forth him who was deceived as a citizen
of heaven to the shame of the deceiver, the gates of Hades have been shut,
and the gates of heaven have been opened, so as to offer an unimpeded entrance
to those who rise thither in faith.
In olden time Jacob beheld a ladder erected reaching to heaven, and the angels
of God ascending and descending upon it. But now, having been made man for
man's sake, He who is the Friend of man has crushed with the foot of His
divinity him who is the enemy of man, and has borne up the man with the hand
of His Christhood, and has made the trackless ether to be trodden by the
feet of man. Then the angels were ascending and descending; but now the Angel
of the great counsel neither ascendeth nor descendeth: for whence or where
shall He change His position, who is present everywhere, and filleth all
things, and holds in His hand the ends. of the world? Once, indeed, He descended,
and once He ascended,--not, however, through any change of nature, but only
in the condescension of His philanthropic Christhood; and He is seated as
the Word with the Father, and as the Word He dwells in the womb, and as the
Word He is found everywhere, and is never separated from the God of the universe.
Aforetime did the devil deride the nature of man with great laughter, and
he has had his joy over the times of our calamity as his festal-days. But
the laughter is only a three days' pleasure, while the wailing is eternal;
and his great laughter has prepared for him a greater wailing and ceaseless
tears, and inconsolable weeping, and a sword in his heart. This sword did
our Leader forge against the enemy with fire in the virgin furnace, in such
wise and after such fashion as He willed, and gave it its point by the energy
of His invincible divinity, and dipped it in the water of an undefiled baptism,
and sharpened it by sufferings without passion in them, and made it bright
by the mystical resurrection; and herewith by Himself He put to death the
vengeful adversary, together with his whole host.
What manner of word, therefore, will express our joy or his misery? For he
who was once an archangel is now a devil; he who once lived in heaven is
now seen crawling like a serpent upon earth; he who once was jubilant with
the cherubim, is now shut up in pain in the guard-house of swine; and him,
too, in fine, shall we put to rout if we mind those things which are contrary
to his choice, by the grace and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom
be the glory and the power unto the ages of the ages. Amen.