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All Saints Day and All Souls Day

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 Contents - Nov 2008AD2000 November 2008 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: All Saints Day and All Souls Day - Peter Westmore
Victorian abortion law threatens Catholic hospitals - AD2000 Report
News: The Church Around the World
Human rights: Religious persecution in China, India, Vietnam - Fr John Flynn LC
Dissent: Business as usual at South Brisbane's rebel church - Michael Gilchrist
History: Cardinal Stafford on Humanae Vitae: how dissenters tore the Church apart - Cardinal Francis Stafford
Anima Women's Network: giving 'heart' to women of faith - Anna Krohn
Foundations of Faith: God's gift of sex: building a civilisation of life and love - Catherine Sheehan
What happened then: what matters now - Swithun Wells, martyr of England - Rosemary Lucadou-Wells
Letters: Rebel church in South Brisbane - Bob Osmak
Letters: South Brisbane parish - Catholic or not? - Richard Stokes
Letters: Turnaround needed - John Schmid
Letters: Tribute to Bob Ward - Br Con Moloney CFC
Letters: From India - Fr S. John Joseph
Poetry: The Latest Equation - Bruce Dawe
Books: THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD: Essays Catholic and Contemporary, by John Haldane - Tim Cannon (reviewer)
Books: A STORY AND PAINTINGS by Don Gallagher CFC - Michael Gilchrist
Books: Books available from AD Books
Reflection: Purgatory: hope, mercy, love - Bishop Peter J. Elliott

A consequence of the decision of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in 2001 to reduce the number of Holy Days of Obligation to Christmas Day and the Assumption (August 15) is that the great feasts of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) are rapidly disappearing from the consciousness even of practising Catholics.

It is a tragedy that All Saints Day is less recognised than Halloween, now a secular celebration of what was once the day before All Hallows (Saints) Day.

While the Bishops' decision was made because of the difficulties for many Catholics of attending Mass on these working days, its consequences have included a further erosion in the liturgical life of the Church, and diminished awareness of the Communion of Saints, the doctrine which teaches that believers on earth are united in a spiritual fellowship with the saints in Heaven (see article on pages 12-13) and the souls in Purgatory (see Bishop Elliott's article on page 20).

The feasts of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, when we are encouraged to offer Masses and prayers for our deceased family members and relatives, were the living expression of a doctrine which stretched back to the earliest era of Christianity, and which is embodied in the Apostles' Creed.

The origin of All Saints Day is to be found in the prayers made to the martyr saints of the persecuted Church in the early centuries.

All Souls Day reflects the constant teaching of the Church, stretching back into the Old Testament period where it is recorded in the Book of Machabees, 'It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.'

These beautiful feast days are both a source of inspiration and a consolation that we, in the world of strife and confusion, can aspire to be reunited with our families and friends in the joyful perfection of Heaven. The effort of attending Mass on these days will be rewarded a hundred-fold.

Peter Westmore is publisher of AD2000.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 10 (November 2008), p. 2

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