All Saints and All Souls Days

All Saints Day and All Souls Day are days for remembering Christians who have died.

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In a homily given on Nov 1, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said regarding All Saints Day:

“…The Saints are not a small caste of chosen souls but an innumerable crowd to which the liturgy urges us to raise our eyes. This multitude not only includes the officially recognized Saints, but the baptized of every epoch and nation who sought to carry out the divine will faithfully and lovingly…”

In a homily given on Nov 2, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said regarding All Souls Day:

…we commemorate all of the faithful departed, who have “gone before us marked with the sign of faith and… who sleep in Christ” 

According to Catholic Doctrine the above “Saints” have already entered Heaven; All Saints Day remembers them. On the other hand, All Souls Day is seemingly intended to remember all Christians who have died but who sleep in Christ having not yet arrived in Heaven.

In the context of All Saints Day, the Catholics use the word Saint in a specialized way.  It does so to only refer to those saints who have died, and who lived a life which qualify them to already be in heaven in the eyes of the Catholic Church in contrast to Christians who have died and not yet reached heaven according to Catholic doctrine.  In doing so, it seemingly does not mean to deny that all Christians are saints to include those who are yet alive on earth.  But is seems to claim to have special knowledge about the certainty of certain persons qualifying as saints and who have entered heaven.

Yet, some non-Catholics celebrate these days using different yet somewhat similar criteria and definitions for these days. For example the United Methodist Church celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st.  But it includes all Christians who have died as saints to be remembered.

The United States Memorial Day is a similar secular day celebration except Memorial Day is officially intended to remember American military members who died while serving in the military.

There is nothing unbiblical about remembering the dead.  Problems occur when the manner of such remembrance involves activities that are inconsistent with biblical holiness (h allowed).

For a discussion of Halloween including more info on problems associated with remembering the day see my article entitled Halloween – To Celebrate or Not Celebrate.

See the Catholic Encyclopedia for more information on All Saints Day and All Souls Day.


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