Tag Archives: All Souls

Saint Odilo of Cluny

odiloSaint Odilo of Cluny (962-1049) is remembered for his intense Benedictine life at Cluny and as the 5th abbot of Cluny he oversaw the expansion of the Cluniac reform but he’s best remembered for his concern for he poor souls in purgatory. There is some debate if he was the 5th or the 3rd abbot of Cluny. However, Odilo’s importance lies in the fact that he instituted the commemoration of All Souls (c. 1030) as a yearly liturgical remembrance. The Church from the earliest days prayed for the dead with some regularity. Theologically he had a significant interest in the Incarnation.

Hence two things of Christian life had Saint Odilo’s attention: the care of the poor and the souls of the dead. Of the latter concern also impacted the prior –he decreed that Mass be offered and a monetary offering be made for the poor. He made almsgiving connect with fasting and prayer for the dead: it is not only a lenten piece of Christian spirituality but something that gives a renewed flavor to living the gospel.  Odilo instructed that the offering of food given to twelve poor people (as much food as the monks would eat at the main meal).

Regarding the monastic life, Abbot Odilo showed great solicitude for the observance of the monastic life by visiting the monasteries under his guidance on a regular basis. The monasteries following the Rule of Cluny really formed these Benedictines into an “order” because of a centralized authority system and the appointment of superiors in the priories (versus the typical election of a superior found in Benedictinism). Thus, he ensured that decadence that has a habit of creeping into a monk’s life was averted.

Saint Odilo has several possible dates for his liturgical memorial: January 1, 2, or 3; 19 at Cluny; April 29 as part of the feast of the Seven Abbots of Cluny and February 6 in Switzerland. Take your pick. But I think, generally, Odilo’s liturgical memorial is bridged with under the title of “Abbots of Cluny” on April 29.

The antiphon “Odilo showed wondrously what was the charity of his heart, who, while pitying sufferings of the faithful departed, yearly decreased them by a sweet refreshment, alleluia.”

All Souls

All SoulsThe Novus Ordo liturgy observed All Souls day yesterday; today the Extraordinary Form observed the commemoration today.

“All Souls Day focuses our attention on the process of purgation in preparation for the soul’s entrance into the presence of God. Not many experience a perfectly prepared entrance into heaven. The journey of life can be messy. A period of cleansing is not be be unexpected. The Church has called this process Purgatory. Since there is no time in eternity the period of purgation is a mystery. This image shows the loving mercy of God being ministered to the souls in Purgatory by an angel. We pray for all those who have died especially in the past year that they may soon see the Face of God.” (Dom J. King, OSB)

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord…

All Souls Day and Purgatory

November is the month dedicated to praying for the Souls in Purgatory. A venerable and fitting custom of prayer and sacrifice for those of our families and friends who died, and those unknown to us personally. Don’t let these days go by without offering a prayer for the Souls in Purgatory, and visiting the cemetery.

The All Souls Indulgence is noted here.

Today is a fitting day to recall what the Catholic teaching of purgatory is: here, here and here. Plus, “Is Purgatory necessary?” may be helpful.

All Saints and All Souls Days in religious orders

benedict and devil.jpgThe Church is not liturgically monolithic: let’s consider the various observances of feasts of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls) in various religious orders:

All Saints
  • November 5: the Society of Jesus
  • November 7: the Order of Preachers
  • November 13: the Order of St Benedict; Order of St Augustine; the Trinitarian Order
  • November 29: the Franciscan Families
All Souls
  • October 5: the Capuchin Order
  • November 5: the Franciscan Families
  • November 8: the Order of Preachers
  • November 13: the Carthusians
  • November 14: the Order of St Benedict; the Trinitarian Order
  • November 15: the Order of Carmel
  • November 16: the Servite Order

Souls in Purgatory and our obligation


Thumbnail image for St Gregory delivers the soul of monk GB Crespi.jpgThe month of November is the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I was thinking after a funeral celebrated earlier today for a friend, Jack, who died last Saturday, about my on-going responsibility for the souls in purgatory. This after being reminded that I am called, as are all the baptized, to be an echo of the encounter with Christ in this world, but also in eternal life. What I do here and now has a direct consequence in the later in the promised Destiny with the Savior.

Is it a matter of saying the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and the Glory Be with the Eternal Rest prayers around the time of a person’s death, or only on the anniversary of death of a loved one or friend? Somehow I doubt it.

The law of charity that I think Christians are called to live with certainty makes a claim on us to pray for the dead and dedicate some portion of prayer, fasting and almsgiving for the Church Suffering (the Holy Souls) so that one day they become part of the Church Triumphant. Being Friends in the Lord (disciples of Christ) can’t be indifferent to those who have died. We believe that the bonds of love don’t unravel with the death of the body. We promise the dying that we won’t forget them. If this is true, then why do we so often forget to have a Mass offered for their intentions, or say a rosary for our loved ones, or absent ourselves from visiting the cemetery? Mass, the rosary and a visit are concrete acts of love that have a real consequence for real people we knew and loved in this life.

Consider the image of posted above is a example of spiritual works effecting the soul of another. Here the Baroque Master Giovanni Battista Crespi, “Il Cerano” (1573-1632) paints in 1617 Saint Gregory the Great “delivering the soul of a monk.” The deliverance is the result of the monk and pope Gregory offering Mass for the soul of a monk. The depths of mercy and love are mined by the devotion of the Mass for another.

As faithful Christians we state, in faith, that we will be reunited with those we knew and loved in this life with those who have gone before us. So, because of love, we reach out with the hand of prayer and charitable acts giving help to those being purged of the last vestiges sin will soon be fully capable of being with God in the Beatific Vision (heaven).

What does the Church teach about Purgatory?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Paragraph 1030: All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

Paragraph 1031: The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of cleansing fire. As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age but certain others in the age to come.

Paragraph 1472 excerpted: This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin.

For more on purgatory you can read here.

In a newsletter I periodically read, the entry for today said,

The Holy Souls in Purgatory. Purgatory has been described, as a “cleansing fire” that burns away the dross of sins on our souls. Saint Paul wrote those of being saved “yet so as through fire” and whether or not the soul endures a literal fire, its purification does involve suffering. The time each soul spends there, and the severity of the pains it experiences, varies. However, our prayers for these souls can help alleviate their sufferings and help them reach heaven more quickly. Although they can no longer pray for themselves, they can and do pray for us as well out of gratitude! In addition we can help them by having masses said for the departed and by engaging in works of cha
rity and sacrifice on their behalf.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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