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02 November 2008
  Commemoration of the Faithful Departed
2 November

requiescat in paceAlso known as All Souls' Day, this commemoration goes hand in glove with yesterday's remembrance of All Saints' Day. In the early Church, feasts of apostles and evangelists were soon celebrated, especially those of Peter and Paul, although John and James were also early favorites.

False teaching led many to use the day after All Saints' Day as a special remembrance and day of prayer for the dead who might still be in purgatory. Early Lutherans condemned the idea of purgatory but still saw good in a day set aside to remember others besides the "major" saints who had also departed in the Faith and who await with us the resurrection of all flesh.

Many who grew up in the German language remember Totenfest, the Feast of the Dead or Festival for the Dead. Fredrick William III instituted it in 1816 to honor Prussian dead from the Napoleonic wars. When Fredrick Wilhelm imposed the Prussian Union in 1817, the celebration was incorporated into Prussia's new Evangelical Church. In most places, it was celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church Year while a few held the commemoration on 31 December. However, stronger Lutheran regions often continued keeping 2 November as Totenfest.

In parts of Latin America, particularly Mexico, All Saints' and All Souls' Day morphed somewhat into the Day(s) of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). In many places, this has become a largely secular festival with religious (and often superstitious) overtones. It especially remembers departed family members as well as friends and even beloved pets with special altars and much feasting.

Lection

Psalm 34:1-9
Isaiah 35:3-10
2 Peter 3:8-14
John 5:24-29

Collect

Almighty God, in whose glorious presence live all who depart in the Lord and before whom all the souls of the faithful who are delivered of the burden of the flesh are in joy and felicity, we give You hearty thanks for Your loving-kindness to all Your servants who have finished their course in faith and now rest from their labors, and we humbly implore Your mercy that we, together with all who have departed in the saving Faith, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, in both body and soul, in Your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

See the Christian Cyclopedia for more information.

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