Eight Days of Saints and Souls: Celebrating the All Hallows Octave
One day is not enough to mark the most significant moments of the year. Christmas and Easter are both octaves, eight days celebrating our salvation. Octaves used to be more common throughout the year, including for All Saints (or “Hallows,” being the older term). There is one way in which this octave remains: through eight days of prayers for the dead from November 1st through 8th when we are encouraged to visit cemeteries.
The Church offers a plenary indulgence on each of these eight days that can be offered for a soul in purgatory, granting the full remission of temporal punishment due to sin. Here is the Church’s explanation from its Enchiridion on Indulgences: “Visit to a Cemetery. Only applicable to the souls in Purgatory when one devoutly visits and prays for the departed. A plenary indulgence is bestowed for this work each day between November 1 and November 8.” Like all plenary indulgences, this requires detachment from sin, prayers for the Holy Father, making a Confession, and receiving Communion within eight days of the visit.
The dead should not be forgotten. There is something deeply human and spiritual about maintaining our communion with those who have died in prayer. It is only through God that we can maintain this connection, as all who are in his grace live in him. If we live in relationship with God, we remain united with all others, living and deceased, who likewise abide in him. Throughout the Body of Christ, we express charity in our prayer for one another.
Exodus is gathering the names of our beloved dead, joining together to offer them in prayer over these days. Each of the eight days, we will offer a reflection and common prayers, as we list a portion of these names. As Exodus men, we will unite in this act of charity of praying for everyone who is brought forward. Together, we will remember, grieve, and express our hope in the Lord’s mercy.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen
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Dr. Staudt holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Ave Maria University and B.A. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He serves as Director of Content for Exodus and as Visiting Associate Professor at the Augustine Institute in Denver. He was previously the Associate Superintendent for the Archdiocese of Denver. He has founded a Catholic school and served as a DRE in two parishes and as Director of Catholic Studies at the University of Mary. He is the author of How the Eucharist Can Save Civilization (TAN), Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday & Today (Angelico Press). His editing experience includes six years as the managing editor of the journal Nova et Vetera and the books Renewing Catholic Schools: How to Regain a Catholic Vision in a Secular Age (Catholic Education Press) and The University and the Church: Don J. Briel’s Essays on Education (Cluny Media).
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