The commemoration of all the faithful departed is celebrated by the Church on 2 November, or, if this be a Sunday or a solemnity, on 3 November. The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy and all the Masses are to be of Requiem, except one of the current feast, where this is of obligation.
The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, almsdeeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.
In the early days of Christianity the names of the departed brethren were entered in the diptychs. Later, in the sixth century, it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of the deceased members at Whitsuntide. In Spain there was such a day on Saturday before Sexagesima or before Pentecost, at the time of St. Isidore (d. 636). In Germany there existed (according to the testimony of Widukind, Abbot of Corvey, c. 980) a time-honoured ceremony of praying for the dead on 1 October. This was accepted and sanctified by the Church. St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to be held annually in the monasteries of his congregation. Thence it spread among the other congregations of the Benedictines and among the Carthusians.
Of the dioceses, Liège was the first to adopt it under Bishop Notger (d. 1008). It is then found in the martyrology of St. Protadius of Besançon (1053-66). Bishop Otricus (1120-25) introduced it into Milan for the 15 October. In Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, priests on this day say three Masses. A similar concession for the entire world was asked of Pope Leo XIII. He would not grant the favour but ordered a special Requiem on Sunday, 30 September, 1888.
In the Greek Rite this commemoration is held on the eve of Sexagesima Sunday, or on the eve of Pentecost. The Armenians celebrate the passover of the dead on the day after Easter.
Pope Benedict XV granted Priests permission to offer three Masses on All Soul’s Day. One of these Masses the Celebrant may say according to his own intention; one must be offered for the faithful departed and the third for the intention of the Holy Father.
INTROIT 4 Esdras 2: 34-35
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. (Ps. 64. 2-3). A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Sion; and a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem: hear my prayer; all flesh shall come to Thee. V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them
FIRST MASS: O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful: grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaidens the remission of all their sins: that through devout supplications, they may obtain the pardon which they have desired. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
SECOND MASS: O God, the Lord of mercies, grant to the souls of Thy servants and handmaids, the anniversary of whose burial we commemorate, an abode of refreshment, the beatitude of rest, and the brightness of light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
THIRD MASS: O God, the bestower of pardon and lover of man’s salvation, we beseech Thy clemency, through . the intercession blessed Mary ever a virgin, and all Thy saints, that the brethren, who have passed out of this world may together enjoy everlasting happiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
EPISTLE for the FIRST MASS OF THE DAY: Corinthians 15: 51-57
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren, we shall indeed rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again, incorruptible and we shall be changed. For this corruptible, must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
EPISTLE for the SECOND MASS OF THE DAY: 2 Machabees 12: 43-48
Lesson from the Book of Machabees. In those days, the most valiant man Judas, making a gathering, sent twelve thousand drachmas 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.
EPISTLE of the THIRD MASS OF THE DAY: Apocalypse 14: 13
Lesson from the book of the Apocalypse of Blessed John the Apostle. In those days I heard a voice from Heaven, saying to me, Write, blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their works follow them.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. V.(Ps. 111. 7): The just shall be in everlasting remembrance; he shall not fear the evil hearing. TRACT Absolve, O Lord, the souls of the faithful departed from every bond of sins. V. And by the help of Thy grace may they be enabled to escape the avenging judgment. V. And enjoy the bliss of everlasting light.
SEQUENCE may be omitted
Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending.
O what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth.
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Through earth’s sepulchres it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
Lo, the book exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded,
Thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge His seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding
When the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us.
Think, kind Jesus, my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation,
Leave me not to reprobation.
Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
On the Cross of suffering bought me,
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Righteous Judge, for sin’s pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ere that day of retribution.
Guilty now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning.
Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.
Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given.
Worthless are my prayers and sighings,
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
With Thy sheep a place provide me,
From the goats afar divide me,
To Thy right hand do Thou guide me.
When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy Saints surrounded.
Low I kneel with heart’s submission,
See, like ashes, my contrition,
Help me in my last condition.
Ah! that day of tears and mourning,
From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgment must prepare him,
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.
Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest.
GOSPEL for the FIRST MASS OF THE DAY: John 5: 25-29
At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He hath given Him power to do judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.”
GOSPEL for the SECOND MASS OF THE DAY: John 6: 37-40
At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will not cast out: because I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me. Now this is the will of the Father Who sent Me, that of all that He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again in the last day; and this is the will of My Father that sent Me, that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in Him, may have life everlasting; and I will raise him up in the last day.”
GOSPEL for the THIRD MASS OF THE DAY: John 6: 51-55
At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews:”At that time, I am the living bread, which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, “Amen , amen, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life and I will raise him up in the last day.”
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit: deliver them from the lion’s mouth, that hell swallow them not up, that they fall not into darkness, but let the standard-bearer, holy Michael, lead them into that holy light; which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his seed. V.: We offer to Thee, O Lord, sacrifices and prayers: do Thou receive them in behalf of those souls of whom we make memorial this day. Grant them, O Lord, to pass from death to that life which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his seed.
SECRET for the FIRST MASS OF THE DAY Mercifully look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the sacrifice which we offer Thee for the souls of Thy servants and handmaids, that, to those on whom Thou didst confer the merit of Christian faith, Thou mayst also grant its reward. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
SECRET for the SECOND MASS OF THE DAY Be propitiated, O Lord, by our supplications for the souls of Thy servants and handmaids, whose anniversary is kept to-day, for whom we offer Thee the sacrifice of praise, that Thou vouchsafe to join them to the company of Thy saints. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
SECRET for the THIRD MASS OF THE DAY O God, Whose mercy is boundless, mercifully receive the prayers of our lowliness, and grant, through these sacraments of our salvation, to the souls of our brethren, kindred, and benefactors, to whom Thou didst grant the confession of Thy name, the remission of all sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE for the faithful departed
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, through Christ our Lord. In whom the hope of a blessed resurrection hath shone forth unto us; so that those who are saddened by the certain lot of dying, may be consoled by the promise of a future deathless life. For to Thy faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not taken away: and when the home of this earthly sojourn is dissolved, an eternal dwelling place is being prepared in the heavens. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord, * With Thy Saints for evermore, for Thou art gracious. V.: Eternal rest give to them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them * with Thy Saints . . .
POSTCOMMUNION for the FIRST MASS OF THE DAY May the prayer of Thy suppliant people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, avail for the souls of Thy servants and handmaidens: that Thou mayest both deliver them from all their sins, and make them to be sharers in Thy Redemption. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
POSTCOMMUNION for the SECOND MASS OF THE DAY Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the souls of Thy servants and handmaids, the anniversary of whose burial we commemorate, may be purged by this sacrifice and obtain alike forgiveness and everlasting rest. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
POSTCOMMUNION for the THIRD MASS OF THE DAY Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty and merciful God, that the souls of our brethren, kindred, and benefactors, for whom we have offered, this sacrifice of praise to Thy majesty, being purified of all sins by the virtue of this sacrament, may, by Thy mercy, receive the beatitude of perpetual light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.