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All Souls

O God,
the Maker and Redeemer of all believers:
Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son;
that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.


We seem to give them back to you, dear God,
who gave them to us.
Yet as you did not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their returning.
Not as the world gives, do you give, O Lover of Souls!
What you give, you do not take away.
For what is yours is ours always, if we are yours.
Life is eternal; and love is immortal;
and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing but the limit of our sight.

Lift us up, strong Son of God,
that we may see further;
cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
draw us closer to yourself that we may know ourselves nearer to our beloved who are with you.
And while you prepare a place for us,
prepare us for that happy place, that where they are, and you are,
we too may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

source of the horizon prayer

History of All Souls Day

The origins of All Souls date to 1048 when Abbot Saint Odilo of the monastery of Cluny declared this celebration to commemorate departed Christians. In the course of several hundred years the feast spread across Europe to England and finally in the fourteenth century Rome made it an official feast on November 2.

“This millennium-old celebration is an expression of the Christian belief in the Communion of Saints, the mystical solidarity uniting all of the Body of Christ living on earth with those who have died and are now one with God. This web allows spiritual energy to flow between the living and the dead by way of prayer, various good works and especially Holy Communion, which unites the Head and all the Body of Christ.” (Edward Hayes, The Old Hermit’s Almanac, p. 312)

Various cultures have taken on this celebration and keep it with different observances. In many places, cemeteries are given special attention so that graves might be decorated with candles or flowers. In Latin America, this day is known as “Dia de los Muertos” or the “Day of the Dead” and is an occasion of great festivity. Bakeries sell sweets and cakes in the shapes of skulls, skeletons, and coffins. In Mediterranean cultures, children receive gifts of candy. It is also common to set up shrines to remember those who have died.


Prayers, readings, and litanies for the feast of All Souls

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4 thoughts on “All Souls”

  1. I love the “Horizon Prayer”, as you call it and often use it at committals. Actually I’m not sure where I first ran across it.
    It seems to me that in many parishes, in the U.S. anyway, we combine All Saints and All Souls these days — which actually seems more theologically correct to me. We all are saints through grace, not through our own merits. Today, (Sunday, 11/1) celebrated All Saints and prayed for the list of the departed — we use several readers from various parts of the nave reading names all at the same time. It is always very moving. Is this combining of All Saints and All Souls common practice elsewhere in the communion?

  2. The Horizon prayer as far as I know was written by the Venerable Bede at least that was the source given in a book I borrowed some while ago. It is indeed beautiful and I use it around the commendation at funerals

  3. I may be entirely incorrect, but is not the feast of All Souls dedicated to the holy souls in purgatory? It does not remind us of our communion with the Saints in God, but of the enduring – and real – connection between all who seek God. We are in (a mystical) communion with the repentant sinners, who are not yet one with God, not only those who are in communion with God (that is, as Saints or Angels). I think most Christians have an unfortunate tendency to forget that, myself included. Because we are in communion with the holy souls in a special way: we are not yet part of the communion of Saints, but that is what we are striving for. We pray to Saints for miracles and we pray for the holy souls in purgatory to be sped along quickly to heaven, but forget that we are still connected to them, that they don’t exist in some nebulous in-between of the Church Suffering. Why don’t we ask them to pray for us? After all, their petitions to God are closer to him than ours, because they have already begun thier upward ascention. We could pray for them particularly for strength in our own trials and struggles, that their ascent might infuse us with some of the same feelings that overcome suffering, and make them able to bear it, for the Glory of God.

    But I ramble. It’s a trademark.

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