Thursday, November 2, 2006

All Souls

Today, as a follow-up to yesterday's grand feast of All Saints, is the day of All Souls. It is the day on which we commemorate all the faithful departed, thus kicking off November, which is the month of the dead. November is the last month on the liturgical calendar, the last Sunday of November, which is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, being the feast of Christ the King. Traditionally, we conceive of the Church, which is not limited to time and space, as the Church militant, the Church suffering, and the Church triumphant. The Church militant is the Church on earth, us. The Church in purgatory is the Church suffering, and the Church triumphant is the Church in heaven. All Saints is a glorious celebration of the Church triumphant. Whereas, All Souls is a feast more concerned, though not exclusively so, with the Church suffering. So, it is important to pray for those being purified, that they may be strengthened and hasten to make their way to beatitude.

Hence, today is great day to pray the prayer of St. Gertrude the Great, a fourteenth century Benedictine mystic - "Eternal father, I offer you the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. - Amen"

Today we also pray the office of the dead, which includes the great hymn the Dies Irae, or Day of Wrath. Recite this also today. It is a magnificent hymn of beauty, truth, and grandeur.

Dies Irae
1 Day of wrath and terror looming!
Heaven and earth to ash consuming,
David's word and Sibyl's truth foredooming!
2 What horror must invade the mind,
when the approaching judge shall find,
and sift the deeds of all mankind.
3 The trumpet casts a wondrous sound,
through the tombs of all around,
making them the throne surround.
4 Death is struck and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its judge an answer making.
5 The written book shall be brought forth,
in which is contained all
from which the world is to be judged.
6 So when the Judge shall sit,
whatever is hidden shall be seen,
nothing shall remain unpunished.

7 What am I, wretched one, to say,
What protector implore,
when (even) a just person will scarcely be confident?
8 King of awesome majesty,
you who save gratuitously those to be saved,
save me, fount of pity.
9 Remember, gracious Jesus,
that I am the cause of your journey;
do not let me be lost on that day.
10 Seeking me, you sat exhausted;
you redeemed me by undergoing the Cross;
let so much toil not be in vain.
11 Just judge of vengeance,
grant the gift of forgiveness,
before the day of reckoning'.
12 I groan, as one guilty;
my face is red with shame;
spare, O God, a supplicant.

13 You who forgave the sinful woman,
and heard the plea of the thief
have given hope to me also.
14 My prayers are unworthy;
but you, the Good, show me favour,
that I may not be consumed by eternal fire.
15 Grant me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
placing me at your right hand.
16 When the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
call me with Thy Saints surrounded.
17 Low I kneel, with heart submission!
See, like ashes my contrition!
Help me in my last condition!
18 Tearful that day,
on which will rise from ashes
guilty man for judgement.
So have mercy, O God, on this man. Amen.

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