The Mystical Body of Christ:
The Mystical Body of Christ describes the unity and relationship of the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in Heaven.
Happy November! November 1st and 2nd are important feast days in the Catholic Church. The 1st is All Saints Day, and the 2nd is All Souls Day. Why do we have these feasts, and why are they back to back?
The Mystical Body of Christ describes the relationship of the three groups of the members of the Catholic Church. The Church Militant refers to the faithful on earth: those of us who are baptized, still living, striving for Heaven. Then the Church Suffering is the souls in purgatory. They are helpless to move themselves toward Heaven and reliant on the aid of the Mystical Body of Christ. Finally the saints in Heaven who advocate to God through prayer for the rest of us are the Church Triumphant.
All Saints Day:
November 1st is All Saints Day. My mom had a great tradition for my family growing up. She would lay a huge piece of paper on the kitchen counter and letting us kids decorate it with drawings of saints. Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, and Therese of Lisieux were a few saints on there every year. Mom encouraged us to see saints as role models. She always said, “You have to be a saint on earth to be a saint in Heaven.”
All Saints Day is regarded with high honor in our Church. It was made to honor especially the martyrs who gave their lives in defense of our faith. Because of this, November 1st is a Holy Day of Obligation, requiring us to attend Mass on this day. We unite our prayers in the sacrifice of the Mass to the prayers in Heaven.
All Souls Day:
November 2nd is All Souls Day. It was made specifically to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, the Church Suffering. Between November 1st and 8th (an octave) we can gain plenary indulgences for the souls of the dead. A plenary indulgence remits the necessary suffering before reception into Heaven. In other words, it releases a soul from purgatory. To gain a plenary indulgence, there are four requirements:
- Have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin.
- Receive the sacrament of confession.
- Receive the Holy Eucharist.
- Pray for the intentions of the Pope—generally one Our Father and one Haily Mary.
For more information on the All Souls Octave indulgences, read here: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=1178