Ruminations on All Saints and All Souls Days

The Roman Catholic church’s yearly liturgical calendar is full of solemnities, feast days, and memorials. If you don’t know the difference between the three categories, you need to consult the Catholic encyclopedia. Anyway, yesterday Catholicism celebrated All Saints Day (a solemnity) and today it marks All Souls Day (a feast day). In brief, on All Saints Day, Catholics pay homage to ALL the “saints” who allegedly merited Heaven by living holy lives. Catholics celebrate the feast days of certain very popular saints throughout the year and All Saints Day gives them a chance to honor all the lower-profile, “bench-warmer” saints who don’t merit individual feast days on the official church calendar.

Today, All Souls Day, Catholics pray for the souls of the deceased who are allegedly in purgatory. Catholicism teaches purgatory is a way station for those souls who need to be cleansed of venial sins or for the remaining temporal punishment for forgiven mortal sins before they can enter Heaven. Catholics arrange for masses to be offered up as indulgences to shorten the time a deceased loved one must endure purgatory. Various other indulgences can also be applied. Many souls do not have family or friends assisting them out of purgatory, so the indulgences from the masses and prayers on All Souls Day are applied to the forgotten suffering souls in purgatory.


Of course, none of the above is Scriptural. The Bible says everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is a saint. The Bible speaks of no intermediate cleansing station like purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory denies the ability of Christ to cleanse those who trust in Him as Savior from all sin.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7

In the Gospel of Luke 23:39-43, Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that He would bring him into Paradise that very day. There is no purgatory for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

Most American Catholics have no clue about the meaning of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Yesterday, All Saints Day, was a holy day of obligation, meaning all Catholics were required to attend mass under pain of mortal sin and eternal damnation, but of course, the VAST majority didn’t bother. They can’t make it to mass on Sunday let alone during the week.

Catholics in America are generally very casual about All Saints-All Souls but that’s not the case in some countries. In Poland, the land of my paternal ancestors, they celebrate/reverence All Saints and All Souls Days with a devotion that would shock American Catholics. During “Zaduszki” (the day of prayer for dead souls), the entire country shuts down and millions visit the graves of family members to pray and leave behind flowers and lighted candles. A great amount of superstition and pagan-(c)hristian syncretism marks these two “holy days.” The dead spirits are believed to visit their old homes and warm themselves while enjoying the commemorative meal left for them. A bench is provided close to the hearth with a dish of water, a comb, and a towel so that the dead souls can wash themselves and comb their hair. Household activities are restricted so as not to interfere with the movements of the dead spirits. Bread is brought to the cemeteries along with the flowers and candles for the deceased to enjoy.

For more on the customs of Zaduszki, see here. The citizens of predominantly Catholic countries are notorious for mixing overtly pagan practices with their (c)hristian religion.

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

13 thoughts on “Ruminations on All Saints and All Souls Days

  1. Thank you this post, brother! While I was researching Justin Martyr I noticed that there was a Catholic feast day for him and was so confused! The stuff you mentioned about Poland…I can just imagine being a small child and being absolutely terrified by that! In fact, as a child, being raised by a practicing Wiccan I suffered a lot of frightening nights, most of the time not getting any sleep, from all the creepy stuff in her books.

    It’s fascinating to me that I have heard from atheists who actually do believe in purgatory…but not God…which is very confusing. Does Dontes Inferno have anything to do with all this, or was it written because of this? I have just one more question, if the indulgences are still going on how could any evangelical Christian have celebrated Reformation day with Catholics? Wasn’t that one of Luther’s main concerns? It seems like indulgences should be the line drawn in the sand for Christians, you obviously can’t earn your way into heaven. Very sad to see so many lost, putting their faith in money to save them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister! I’m so sorry you were raised amidst witchcraft but praise the Lord He brought you out of it. That had to be very frightening as a child.

      Yes, Luther came out strongly against the selling of indulgences in his 95 theses in 1517. That was in reaction to a Vatican agent unabashedly selling indulgences in Germany that year to build the new St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. But at the same time the Lord was opening Luther’s eyes to the “bigger picture,” the Gospel of grace. It was in 1510 while in Rome that the verse, “The just shall live by faith,” first began to enlighten his soul. Many still think the Reformation was just about the selling of indulgences rather than the bigger question of how a person is saved.

      Indulgences, penance, purgatory are all part of a works system that benefits the authoritarian clergy. Much more so in the past because few Catholics participate these days. Priests will be quick to tell you that they don’t “sell” indulgences per se, but they do accept “offerings” for their services. So sad. No hope in Christ. Just hope in the church’s system without any peace or joy. The Bible certainly says the vain works of a believer will be burnt away (1 Corinthians 3:11–3:15). From this and a few other verses the RCC created purgatory. Ancient Greek philosophy and mythology cited an interim, cleansing state following death, so that myth seeped into the church.

      I never read Dante’s Inferno but I’ve heard much about it like everyone else. The poem was based on existing Catholic teaching on hell and purgatory. The ironic thing is Dante consigned many prelates to hell fire in the poem.

      Thanks for the questions, sister! I actually enjoy mulling these things over.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. That is info I didn’t know. It especially reminds me of this verse–1 Timothy 4:1 – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”

    I’m glad I found your blog and look forward to reading more of your posts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m one of those who did not know the full meaning of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Seeing works righteousness in a religion is like watching someone telling their first lie: they have to tell more lies to cover the first lies and it gets complicated real quick. That’s the same way with works-righteousness…it only add more works to explain away more sins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s the strange thing…I’m pretty confident in claiming the great majority of American Roman Catholics could not explain All Saints and All Souls.

      You are so very right about works-righteousness religions. One thing leads to another to another to another, etc., etc. Each layer presents questions and uncertainties.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RE: the sanitized airbrush version (of Romanism)

        Yeah, Colson and J.I. Packer purposely only presented the storefront window version of Catholicism which proclaimed “God’s grace” and “faith in Christ.” The many chains were behind the door and out of sight.

        Liked by 1 person

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