Prayer For All
Yesterday, November 2nd, was the Feast of All Souls. I have always found the Divine Offices for this feast to be mystifying and moving. Unlike the Feast of All Saints, which is an extraordinarily elaborate celebration, the chants for the Feast of All Souls are quite simple. In fact, the chants for this feast day bear considerable resemblance to the Divine Office chants of Good Friday. On these two days, there are no opening prayers, no doxology verse at the ends of the psalms, and no closing sentences. The services begin in silence without a signal from the Superior of the monastery, and there are no opening sentences which are common to all other other Divine Offices. In addition, antiphons are often completely removed.
That which remains is the psalmody, the scripture readings, the confession and the Lord’s Prayer. Only that which is of most significance — the true heart of the Divine Office — remains in place. How appropriate and inspired that the Church Fathers saw fit to relate the Divine Office of the day when Jesus himself bore the sins of everyone to the Divine Office of remembrance for all souls! It is also a timely marker of the coming of Advent, only four weeks following this feast, that Jesus came for all mankind. And finally, we are reminded that these chants — these prayers — are truly for all of us.