Tag Archives: Benedictine All Souls

Benedictine All Souls

May the memory of the deceased monks, nuns, sisters, and oblates be eternal.

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Historically [supposing that your view of history goes back before 1900], today is the traditional date for the liturgical memorial of All Benedictine Souls. You are not going to find many American Benedictine monasteries observing this commemoration. Sad, I think. They will offer the argument that the Church’s November 2nd commemoration of All Souls (and for that matter, All Saints) to include the monks and nuns of the Order.
As a monk noted, monasteries who hold this idea are employing “the same argument that was used at the time of the Reformation to eliminate the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, since we are all ‘saints.’ Whatever the theological merits of this position, even the Episcopal Church has recognized its psychological deficit and has restored All Souls on November 2.”
Old fashioned or not, there is a good value in retaining the observances of All Saints and All Souls of Monks and Nuns. Informed opinion indicates that when monasteries remember the nuns and monks who have gone before us in faith and perseverance, remembers not only persons but also puts eschatological hope that eternal life is possible and indeed ought to be sought.
We pray for graces of light, peace and mercy for our departed monks and nuns, sisters and oblates ask for their prayers for us.

Benedictine All Souls

OSB funeral.jpgIn Benedictine communities around the world today’s Liturgical Observance is offered for the souls of all Benedictine monks, nuns, sisters and Oblates in purgatory.

The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is Benedictine in origin established by Saint Odilo at the Abbey of Cluny in 998.

By the 14th century the observance of All Souls would be celebrated by the Church universal.
The Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office, Rosary and the praying of the 150 psalms helps in the purification of the holy souls in purgatory.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them.


Benedictine All Souls

It is a treasured monastic tradition to pray for the dead, to visit the cemetery and to recall
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lives of those who have gone ahead of us to receive the Lord’s mercy. Some groups of monks have the custom of praying an entire Psalter for their deceased confreres, concluding each psalm with the verse, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.” Generally the Mass and private devotions are all that mark the day in many monasteries.


The Mass offered today is offered for all the departed monks, nuns, sisters and oblates who persevered in their consecration under Saint Benedict’s guidance. After death, the monks, nuns, sisters and oblates buried in the monastery’s cemetery are not abandoned, not forgotten by their monastic family who remain on earth. The Mass, psalmody, and other prayers, like the rosary or particular litanies to effect in God’s plan their purification and obtain the beatific vision.


O God, giver of pardon and lover of humankind, we beseech your mercy that through the intercession of blessed Mary ever-virgin, and of all the Benedictine saints, our brothers and sisters, relatives and benefactors who have passed out of this life, may be admitted into the fellowship of everlasting bliss.

Benedictine All Souls

And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)

Cemetery2.jpgOn All Souls Day I joined the community of monks here at Saint Mary’s Abbey for the annual and traditional prayers at the cemetery. There the gathered monks read aloud more than 100 names of the deceased confreres buried in the two cemeteries (here and in East Orange, NJ) since the founding of the abbey in 1857. After each set of names was read aloud we sang the Kyrie. At the conclusion we sang the traditional hymn at the burial of a monk in the American Cassinese Congregation, the “Ultima” (see below). It was a terse but moving experience especially since this was a time in which many of the monks remembered their friends who have gone before them marked with the sign of faith.

Ultima in mortis hora,                         When death’s hour is then upon us,
Filium pro nobis ora,                           To your Son pray that he grant us,
Bonam mortem impetra,                     Death, both holy and serene,
Virgo, Mater, Domina.                        Virgin Mary, Mother, Queen.



A prayer you may offer at the cemetery when visiting your friends and relatives:


Almighty God and Father, by the mystery of the cross, you have made us strong; by the sacrament of the resurrection you have sealed us as your own. Look kindly upon your servants, now freed from the bonds of mortality, and count them among your saints in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Into your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters. In this life you embraced them with your tender love; deliver them now from every evil and bid them enter eternal rest.

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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