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EXCERPT ST. LOUIS REVIEW: Halloween: Another secularization of a Catholic tradition
"It seems that it comes from the Eastern part of the Roman Empire a little before 400 A.D., and then spread to the West," Msgr. Witt said. "By this time, we had gone through three centuries of martyrdom, but in the fourth century, Emperor Constantine ended that with a needing of tolerance and then a little later Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire so there were no more persecutions for the most part."
But there had been many before, and hence the need to recognize them en masse. Martyrs had been commemorated on the anniversary of their martyrdom but with so many of them in so many areas, that became unwieldy.
"This was a time to begin commemorating all of them," Msgr. Witt said. "Beside the ones we know about, there were thousands of others who had given their lives for Christ, so this put them all in together."
The commemoration initially was called the Feast of All Martyrs and celebrated in May. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III renamed it All Saints and moved the date to Nov. 1, according to the Original Catholic Encyclopedia. It was a regional celebration until Pope Gregory IV in the ninth century made it a universal feast day for the universal Church.
The vigil -- All Hallows Eve, Hallowe'en, then Halloween -- was celebrated as early as the Feast of All Saints, according to the encyclopedia.
Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are such a big deal because they represent the hat trick of souls in heaven, purgatory and earth as well as the links between them -- aka the communion of saints.
"They talk in terms of the Church having three categories," Msgr. Witt said. "The saints are the Church Triumphant. They're victorious; they've arrived (in heaven). Those in purgatory are the Church Suffering; they haven't gotten there yet. For those of us who are living, they used to use the term 'Church Militant.'"
In other words, we have a ways to go.
"We don't use that terminology anymore, but it's still all there," Msgr. Witt said. "It's wrapped up in the feasts on November first and second."
The Church Triumphant and the Church Militant offer prayers for the Church Suffering, that they may be cleansed and join the saints in heaven. The Church Militant also venerates the Church Triumphant, asking the saints to intercede with God on their behalf so that they may join them one day in heaven.
A plenary (“full”) indulgence, which is applicable only to the souls in Purgatory is granted to the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a church or an oratory on (November 2nd) All Souls Day.
- Visit a church and pray for souls in Purgatory
- Say one “Our Father” and the “Creed” in the visit to the church
- Say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the Holy Father’s intentions
- Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day if you can get to Mass)
- Make a sacramental confession within a week of All Souls Day
- For a plenary indulgence one must be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (otherwise, the indulgence is partial, not plenary, “full”).
- make a good Confession within a week of before or after All Souls Day
- be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin, for a plenary indulgence
- visit a cemetery and pray for the dead
- say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the monthly intentions set by the Pope
- receive Holy Communion worthily on the same day or soon after
If you are not correctly disposed or if you don’t fulfill the prescribed works and/or the three conditions the indulgence will be partial and not plenary.
103. A hermit said,"If some distracting dispute arises between you and another, and the other denies it and says, "I said no such thing," do not argue with him or say, "You did say it." For he will be exaperated, and will say, "Very well, and I meant it."'
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