Why do we do that? Catholic Traditions Explained

November is called the month of All Souls. Can you tell us more about this feast and the remembrances of this month?

November 2, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, dovetails with November 1, the feast of All Saints. The saints, our models of Christian living, are one with God in heaven. All the faithful departed are those who have died with hope and trust in a loving God who calls us to greater growth and development, even beyond death. This growth and development occurs in a state of being that we have traditionally called purgatory. While the Western Church has emphasized the cleansing and purifying nature of purgatory, the Eastern Orthodox Church has emphasized the growth and development aspect of it. Purgatory allows one who has died in Christ to continue growing towards perfection before meeting our perfect God face-to-face.

These November feasts vividly remind us of the rich reality known as the communion of saints. This belief stresses the strong affirmation that the church is always one in Christ. Death does not sever any of the bonds that unite us in Christ. That is why it is a fitting practice to pray for the dead and to ask them to pray for us. Just as we do that for each other when we are alive, so, too, do we continue that bond and concern for each other even beyond death.