A Message from Bishop Mark
For most of us, one tradition that does not seem to go out of style is showing respect for the dead. Many of us make the annual trip to the cemetery just before Memorial Day in order to tidy up the grave of a loved one, even if they were not counted among the war veterans who are especially remembered on that national holiday.
The Church has long observed a special day for the faithful departed: All Souls Day on November 2. It’s an amazing thing to pray for those who have died and still wait to enter heaven. Among the ways that All Souls Day is traditionally celebrated is the opportunity for priests to celebrate three (3) Masses for the deceased in purgatory.
For all the faithful, there is an opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence (a full pardon from the punishment that is experienced due to sin) for persons who have died. Traditionally, that can happen by visiting a church on All Souls Day to pray the Our Father and the Creed for that intention.
I just learned that with the encouragement and support of Pope Francis, the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome has announced that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulty or even impossibility for many persons to visit a church on All Souls Day, there are other ways to assist the faithful departed so that they may receive the gift of the full remission of the punishment due to sin.
For those who are able to move about, you may obtain the Plenary Indulgence by visiting a cemetery and praying there for the deceased person on any day during the month of November. Also, the Plenary Indulgence may be obtained by visiting a church and praying the Our Father and the Creed; and this can take place on any day during the month of November.
For those who are elderly, sick, homebound, or unable to visit a church or cemetery due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Plenary Indulgence may be obtained by praying at home before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary while praying for the intentions of the Holy Father, with the intention of receiving the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist as soon as that is possible.
The tradition which allows priests to celebrate three Masses on All Souls Day remains in effect and priests are encouraged to provide additional opportunities for the faithful to receive the sacrament of Penance. Other practices that are encouraged on All Souls Day include praying the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, reading the account of the Lord’s passion and death in one of the Gospels, performing a work of mercy, or offering up the sorrows and hardships of your own life for the sake of All Souls.
And here is one last thought. I am constantly reminded that our world and everyone who lives on this planet Earth are in need of prayer. Maybe we could go a little farther than just one day in November. Please consider doing one of the suggested spiritual acts every day for the whole month. Pray for the faithful departed. But also pray for anyone who is held captive by the effects of sin. Encourage others to pray at this time. It might catch on and lead to peace, reconciliation, and healing in our world.