What Is Normally Found in an All Souls' Day Homily?


Quick Answer

An All Souls' Day homily remembers the departed faithful and how their souls undergo purification in Purgatory to achieve the holiness needed to enter heaven, according to Catholic doctrine. The custom started in the early days of the faith when names of the dead were posted in the church and became official in 1748 when Pope Benedict XIV approved the practice. It is usually celebrated on November 2.

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Full Answer

Scripture mentions cleansing by fire for lesser faults before Judgment Day. Pope St Gregory the Great explains that all who die in the faith but are still imperfect are assured of eternal salvation by undergoing purification in Purgatory. This doctrine was formalized at the Councils of Florence and Trent. On All Souls' Day, priests celebrate three holy masses: one to commemorate the intention of the day, one for the souls of the dead and the last one for the intentions of the pope.

On this day each year in many Latin American countries and the Philippines, people spend the whole day at cemeteries on the graves of their loved ones where they pray, build small shrines, light candles, bring food and drink, and reminisce their loved ones. The festival-like atmosphere becomes a family reunion that pays homage to deceased family members.

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