Soul's Day is on November 2, just after the All Saint's Day and is an official
holiday of the Catholic Calendar. It is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for
friends and loved ones who have left for their heavenly abode. All Soul's Day
has its roots in the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, based on the pagan belief
that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. Candles kept
in the window guide the souls back home and another place was set at the table.
Children came asking for food to be offered symbolically to the dead, but then
distributed them among the hungry.
that those who die are not immediately eligible for the Beatific vision (the reality
and goodness of God and heaven) and need to be purged of their sins. The Catholic
Church calls this purification of the elect "purgatory." The Catholic
church maintains that (a) there will be a purification of the believers prior
to entering heaven and, (b) the prayers and masses of the faithful benefit
those in the state of purification.
In All Soul's
Day the friends and relatives of the departed souls pray and offer requiem masses.
There are three Requiem Masses that are said by the clergy to assist the souls
from Purgatory to Heaven: one for the celebrant, one for the departed, and one
for the pope. While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of
Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to
live lives on the holy path and that there will be purification of the souls of
those destined for Heaven.
The Feast of All Souls
owes its beginning to seventh century monks who decided to offer the mass on the
day after Pentecost for their deceased community members. However, the choice
of the date (Nov 2) for All Soul's Day is attributed to St. Odilo, the fifth abbot
of Cluny (city of France famous for the Abby), because he wanted to follow the
example of Cluny in offering special prayers and singing the Office of the Dead
on the day following the feast of All Saints.
modern view of death derives in part from Pre-Hispanic times. The Aztecs played
a very important role in the development of this tradition. Through their history,
this festival emerged as one with many intricacies and with a varied interpretation
to it. According to the Aztec beliefs, after a person's death his soul would pass
through nine phases before they reached Mictlan - the place of the dead. The Aztecs
also believed that a person's destiny was founded at birth and that the soul of
that person depended on the type of death rather than the type of life they lead.
The type of a person's death would also determine what region they would go to.
Once they arrived to their specific region, a person's soul would either await
transformation or linger, awaiting the next destiny.
Spanish Conquest of 1521 brought about an amalgamation of the Catholic attitudes
and indigenous beliefs. The theological underpinning of the feast of All Souls
is the acknowledgment of human frailty. Since few people achieve perfection in
this life but, rather, go to the grave still scarred with traces of sinfulness,
some period of purification seems necessary before a soul comes face-to-face with