Harvest Festival – Origins, facts and customs
October 1, 2020 by Tim Hunt
The Harvest Festival is a long-standing tradition and celebrates a successful yield for farmers across the country. Today, it focuses on charitable giving, specifically sharing food with those who do not have access to basic provisions.
In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home, Harvest Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving.
The Harvest Festival tradition pre-dates Christianity and dates back to the pagan times and the name derives from the Old English word ‘Haerfest’ meaning ‘Autumn’. Today’s church celebrations only began in earnest in Victorian times, when the Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker invited his parishioners to a special harvest thanksgiving service at the church in Morwenstow, Cornwall in 1843.
Customs and traditions:
An early harvest festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning ‘loaf Mass’. The Latin prayer to hallow the bread is given in the Durham Ritual. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop. These were given to the local church as the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.
Nowadays the festival is held at the end of harvest, which varies in different parts of Britain. Sometimes neighbouring churches will set the Harvest Festival on different Sundays so that people can attend each other’s thanksgivings.
Until the 20th century most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called the harvest supper, to which all who had helped in the harvest were invited. It was sometimes known as a “Mell-supper”, after the last patch of corn or wheat standing in the fields which was known as the “Mell” or “Neck”. Cutting it signified the end of the work of harvest and the beginning of the feast. There seems to have been a feeling that it was bad luck to be the person to cut the last stand of corn. The farmer and his workers would race against the harvesters on other farms to be first to complete the harvest, shouting to announce they had finished. In some counties the last stand of corn would be cut by the workers throwing their sickles at it until it was all down, in others the reapers would take it in turns to be blindfolded and sweep a scythe until all of the Mell was cut down.
Corn dolls are also traditionally made for the Harvest Festival using the last sheath of the harvest. This doll is then kept until spring to ensure a good crop the following year. This doll is then sacrificed with a hare (one hiding in the crop). The doll is meant to symbolise the goddess of the grain. Nowadays a hare made of straw is sacrificed instead.
Some churches and villages still have a Harvest Supper. The modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. Victorian hymns such as We plough the fields and scatter, Come, ye thankful people, come and All things bright and beautiful but also Dutch and German harvest hymns in translation helped popularise his idea of harvest festival, and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service. On 8 September 1854 the Revd Dr William Beal, Rector of Brooke, Norfolk, held a Harvest Festival aimed at ending what he saw as disgraceful scenes at the end of harvest, and went on to promote ‘harvest homes’ in other Norfolk villages. Another early adopter of the custom as an organised part of the Church of England calendar was Rev Piers Claughton at Elton, Huntingdonshire in or about 1854.
As British people have come to rely less heavily on home-grown produce, there has been a shift in emphasis in many Harvest Festival celebrations. Increasingly, churches have linked Harvest with an awareness of and concern for people in need of basic provisions and for whom growing crops of sufficient quality and quantity remains a struggle. Development and Relief organisations often produce resources for use in churches at harvest time which promote their own concerns for those in need across the globe.
Encyclopaedia Britannica traces the origins to “the animistic belief in the corn [grain] spirit or corn mother.” In some regions the farmers believed that a spirit resided in the last sheaf of grain to be harvested. To chase out the spirit, they beat the grain to the ground. Elsewhere they wove some blades of the cereal into a “corn dolly” that they kept safe for “luck” until seed-sowing the following year. Then they ploughed the ears of grain back into the soil in hopes that this would bless the new crop. In the early days, there were ceremonies and rituals at the beginning as well as at the end of the harvest:
Harvest Festival in 2020:
COVID-19 restrictions meant that Harvest Festival celebrations across the UK have had to take a very different form to those of earlier years. Many churches have opted not to carry out their Harvest Festival celebrations to limit the spreading of the virus and protect parishioners.
However, some churches are still finding innovative ways to conduct their harvest celebrations. The churches of St John (Hopwood) & St Luke (Heywood) in the Diocese of Manchester have already marked Harvest Festival in an outdoor interactive service.
They will be providing parishioners with a pack which included paper and crayons, the Revd Kirsty Screeton had scattered food items around the church grounds. This all-age activity encouraged people to reflect on the source of their food and how it came to be in their hands. : “[The items] we see can remind us that God is incredible and that sometimes he does the work himself but at other times God needs our help. For the vegetables – although God created it, gave it its colour and shape, in order for it to grow God needed someone to plant the seed, care for it, water it and pick it when it had grown. Harvest celebration means lots of things. It means helping those in need with our food donations, it means being thankful to God and those in our food chain productions, but it is also about being thankful for what God has given us in gifts too.”
In Portsmouth, the festival will be used to gather food donations through a campaign known as ‘With Thankful Hearts.’ The project brings together local government, charities and churches. Canon Bob White, vicar of St Mary’s Church, Fratton, and chair of local charity Hive, said: “The last few months, and in particular the period of lockdown, focused our awareness of the food supply chain and the many things we so often had taken for granted. We looked afresh at our lives and the things we use and enjoy every day and perhaps appreciated them more.”
Another church taking on the challenge of marking the Harvest in a different way are the parishes of Seaview, St Helens, Brading and Yaverland – which form the benefice of Haven Churches – on the Isle of Wight. Volunteers have been instructed to “go to town” on bringing flora and fauna into the churches by the Revd Alison Morley. The Revd Morley explained: “With so much uncertainty and fear around, the planting of trees is a visible and tangible sign of hope and of patience as we wait for the harvest in three- or four-years’ time.”
Whilst the Festival may return in a more familiar form in the future, it does not mean that the current economic climate must completely abolish the celebration of the Harvest for this year. Like many other churches across the UK, there are still a number of ways for us all to show our thanks for what we have and give to those less fortunate.
Important: Changes to your Envelopes
August 11, 2020 by Tim Hunt
New investments heralds our best envelopes yet:.
For over 50 years we have designed, manufactured and delivered millions of collection envelopes, to thousands of parishes all over the UK and Ireland.
Earlier in 2020 we embarked on our latest development of our printing capabilities, in the form of a new state of the art printing machine. This machine is capable of delivering the next generation of your envelopes for years to come. Through continuous investment in our machinery, we can now supply a brand new range of attractive, full colour envelopes to parishes at the highest quality, all at no extra cost to you!
New Process and Benefits:
We will now be supplying FULL COLOUR printed designs at NO EXTRA COST on all Weekly Boxed Sets, Monthly Boxed Sets, Loose Printed Envelopes, and Gift Aid Envelopes. However, Manilla Economy Boxed Sets will still only be offered in a single ink colour.
We will also be expanding our range of stock designs, with 14 Full Colour Designs (C) to choose from. You will also have the option to print your OWN IMAGES in FULL COLOUR if you choose to do so.
The new (C) designs have been created by our studio designers to help retain the tradition of our familiar designs, whilst giving a more modern and dynamic presentation. However, we will continue to offer (D) single colour designs if you feel that these are more suitable for your parish.
Previously these envelopes would have been a different colour within the set, but they will now be presented with an eye-catching ‘S’ Symbol (as below) and will be printed on the same colour envelope as the rest of the set. Unless you choose Manilla Economy Envelopes, in which case the ‘S’ Symbol will be a single colour;
Some examples of our new Special Envelopes are shown below:.
We will also be expanding the standard design images for your envelopes and these will all be in full colour, a huge upgrade to the single colour only options that we have offered in the past. These designs will be much more detailed and have been created by our studio designers to retain the tradition of our existing ones, whilst giving a more modern and dynamic presentation. However, we will still offer the existing images we have provided in the past – just in case there is a traditional image you believe to be more suitable for your parish. You will also have the option to print your OWN IMAGES in FULL COLOUR on your envelopes at NO EXTRA COST.
Some of our new image designs are shown below:
click to view a full list of our new designs and single colour designs.
Our new process of envelope printing comes at no additional cost and you will now be able to choose from vibrant and colourful imagery on your offertory envelopes. For our customers, these envelopes will represent even better value for money and we believe that this investment will also allow us to benefit from greater energy efficiency and improved quality.
Some examples of our new designs printed on envelopes are shown below:
When are these changes being implemented?
We intend to implement these new changes as of Tuesday 11th August. Any orders placed after this date will be manufactured under our new process and allow you to choose the new full colour imagery alongside our new Spiral Special Envelopes. We can’t wait for you to see these new and improved changes and look forward to assisting you in placing your next order with us.
How can I place my order?
There are several ways that you can place your order with us. You can place an order directly through our website by visiting our product category page or you can download and complete one of our order forms by clicking here and then send it by post to Lockie Limited, Lockie House, Withins Road, St Helens, WA11 9UD or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to limited production capacity and reduced staff, we advise all customers to get their orders in as soon as possible so that we can schedule in the printing of your envelopes. You can place your order online, using our order form/renewal pack or by calling us on 01942 402510.
Preserving the Tradition of Offertory Envelopes
April 20, 2020 by Tim Hunt
In an ever-changing world, tradition can often be left at the wayside. Offertory envelopes have been a staple of the church community for almost 100 years and the decision to move from loose plate to planned giving is perhaps the most critical turning point on the journey to mature giving. For many people, that turning point is taking weekly giving envelopes that represent a fresh identification with and commitment to the church. Weekly envelopes help with the discipline of giving and make that all-important connection between worship and giving and for many, the journey to generous giving starts with weekly giving envelopes. Properly understood, offertory envelopes reduce the impact of fluctuating attendance and establish intentional, regular planned giving focused on Sunday worship.
Benefits of a Weekly Envelope Collection:
Weekly envelopes offer the advantages of being tangible and easy to use. On the mantelpiece or in a drawer, week by week they are a reminder of our commitment to give. There is something to hold in the hand and put in the plate. Envelopes are also very easy to use and have the attraction of being a very familiar way of giving. When understood and properly managed (on which, see below), envelopes make our giving far less dependent on weekly attendance at church. They offer real advantages over loose plate giving. When people miss a Sunday they can simply put two envelopes on the offering plate. It is also worth noting that many people still manage their money by using cash, either by preference or by necessity.
Going a little deeper, planned giving envelopes make a formative and tangible connection between our giving and our worship. The physical act of putting the envelope on the offering plate and the accompanying prayer of thanksgiving and dedication can help to shape how we think and feel about giving. There is something about the connection between giving and worship that underwrites the lasting appeal of weekly envelopes as a way of giving in a planned manner. Envelopes offer an early and formative connection between worship and giving.
The advantages of giving by standing order or by direct debit are compelling. However, they are often outweighed for both planning groups and givers by one consideration: there is nothing to put on the offering plate when it comes round. People are understandably embarrassed to put nothing on the offering plate. It does not feel right and may mystify newcomers when half the congregation appears to give nothing! It also runs deeper. When the gifts are offered to God with those beautiful words of King David, ‘all things come from you and of your own do we give you’, parishioners want to feel our gift is represented there on the offering plate. And, as noted elsewhere, it is important for givers to make and keep that early and formative connection between their giving and the worship of the church. Standing orders lose the tangible connection with worship that loose plate or envelope giving retains. It is artificial at best and misleading at worst for standing order givers to find a spare £1 to put on the plate to avoid embarrassment.
Cyber Fraud and Security on the Rise for Charities:
Something to also consider is the ever-growing rise of cyber-crime in charitable giving streams. Charity fraud is on the up, with reported losses reaching almost £8 million in 2018/19, according to Action Fraud figures, while shockingly, the real cost is thought to be as high as £2 billion a year. While all organisations, as well as individuals, are at risk of fraud and other cyber-crime, charities and churches need to be particularly alert. Not only are the funds and types of data they hold attractive targets for cyber-criminals, but charities can be seen as a soft target due to their reliance on volunteers, which can give fraudsters easy access into organisations. Also, people’s good faith in charities can make them less suspicious with individuals less likely to query payments from their bank accounts to appears to be a charity (especially if it’s from a joint account), or to ask for a fundraiser’s ID.
A report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) found that as many as 22% of voluntary & community organisations have identified security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 showed that for larger charities that rose to 52% – hackers don’t often know what type of organisation they’re targeting. It is arguable therefore that there is a greater chance of a church suffering a cyber-attack than any other risk it faces.
The financial security of supporters’ data, donations and financial details cannot be over-emphasised. It is particularly difficult for small charities and churches to be completely aware of all the areas where fraud and cyber-crime are prominent. This is due to their lack of overall resources to put understand and implement strong protections that cover the full scope of cyber-crime vulnerabilities. If you want to know more about the ongoing fight against cyber-crime then you can contact the National Crime Agency for more information.
COVID-19 and our response
March 25, 2020 by Tim Hunt
We are currently facing a life-changing situation and we want you to know that our customers, our employees and our community is in mind with everything we do. Whilst we are striving to run our operations largely as normal, all of your health and safety are our top priorities and at the heart of every decision we make. We believe it’s critical to do our part to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and we’re following strict WHO guidelines as stringently as possible.
As a small business, we face uncertain times ahead but rest assured that we will be doing everything we can to supply you with the products that you need, when you need them.
Here are some of the steps we are taking to protect everyone in this ever-evolving situation:
• We are working tirelessly to make sure that the products you need are available when you want them, delivered in the safest way possible.
• We are diligently following guidance and best practices from the NHS and UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, amongst others.
• Our customer service team is available to answer any questions about your experience, work with you on the best delivery option and provide more information on the many precautions we’re taking to protect your health and safety.
While the environment around us is uncertain, we take comfort in the fact that we have a world-class team and a compassionate and loyal community of customers. We stand ready to serve, and hope that our websites and communication channels can be a source of support for you – and remember, we’re all in this together.
Thank you for your support and for being part of the Lockie family.
Donation Envelopes and Multi-Platform Strategies
March 3, 2020 by Tim Hunt
Gift Aid Donation Envelopes remain one of the most effective and easiest methods of raising and collecting funds from patrons. Gift Aid Envelopes are fully customisable and can be branded with logos, images, custom text, and social and website links. However, there’s much more than simply circulating a handful of envelopes to try and raise money for a charitable cause – designing and structuring your envelopes to incorporate both visual and informative elements is the best approach. The eyes are drawn to images before they are drawn to text so your logo may well be the first part of the envelope your potential donor will see. Developing recognition of your logo is a great advantage as donors will be more inclined to support a charity they know and trust. The basic information of gift aid envelopes can include your registered charity number and a standard gift aid declaration form, allowing you to claim back an extra 25p from HMRC for every pound that is donated by a UK taxpayer.
However, this should be considered the first stage of engagement and the launching point for how you redirect donors to discovering other important information about your cause and regularly interact with you online. This can be done simply by including key information about your online channels on your envelopes, such as links for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and website domains. An even easier method of pushing potential donors to your digital platforms is through the inclusion of a QR code on your envelopes, which allows people to scan the printed code with the camera of their phone and pull up information about your organisation instantly. We print thousands of envelopes with QR codes and can provide advice and assistance for including this print on your gift aid envelopes.
Interesting UK Charity Statistics:
• Online giving increased in 2018 by 17% compared to 2017.
• 31% of offline-only first-time donors are retained for over a year, versus 25% of online-only first-time donors. This demonstrates the value of using an offline/online combination approach to your charitable campaigns and donation requests.
• Female donors are more likely to make a donation because of social media marketing, while male donors are more likely to give because of email messages.
• Most donors prefer cash donations: 55% of donors made a cash donation in past 12 months. Other popular methods of donation include: buying goods (43%), raffle/lottery (40%), direct debit (32%), online (26%), or fundraising event (23%).
• Religious organisations receive the largest share of donations by monetary value: 19%. The average donation to religious causes is £59. The overall average donation was £44.
Read, Watch, Follow:
You don’t have to be a top fundraiser already to be an expert. Reading (and watching) a wide array of content will help you to understand the sector and pick up tips on good practice. Read as much content in as many forms as you can – a blog in the morning and a book on the way to work can go a long way. Knowledge is a process and digital content is the perfect way to obtain mass amounts of information in a streamlined way. Twitter, Youtube and other streams of media provide a fountain of knowledge that can be applied to strategy. Start with watching the Five Minute Fundraiser on YouTube if you need a good starting point for what to focus on.
Using donation envelopes will allow you help circulate your cause with a tangible effect, and the benefits of this are well documented and time-tested. However, what happens after this? How does the customer know what exactly happens with the money they put inside that envelope? This is why continuing the dialogue with your donors is critical to ensuring future donations from first-time givers by enabling them to follow up and see how their donation has contributed to the cause. A consistent message across all forms of media, pushing regular content through your online platforms and focusing on your key demographics should be the primary focus when developing your campaign.
Relevant and Personalised Content:
Donors expect content that is relevant to them and will immediately unsubscribe to anything that they deem as unaligned with their personality or general interests. Pay close attention to your supporters and use the data available to you by talking to them directly and building content around their needs. The inclusion of a personal touch has also proven effective at retaining your audience, by incorporating the information provided by the customer (on envelopes or gift aid declaration forms) into future targeting and contacts. For example, people are much more likely to open and read a digital mailing that uses their name in the subject line.
Trust is Currency:
Over the last few years, people have become much more reluctant to provide sensitive data to organisations, and only tend to give information to brands they trust as they also expect that in return for this data, they will receive a better experience. Ensuring your data protection policy is up to date and robust is demanded from both regulators and consumers and partnering with established brands is a good way to communicate your commitment to transparency and privacy. GiveWell is an independent reviewer of non-profits and aligning your charity with independent bodies like this can assist you in receiving third party endorsement from trusted charity-related institutions.
Lockie Catalogue 2020
January 10, 2020 by Tim Hunt
You can find a PDF version of our 2020 catalogue here, along with all available quantities and prices.
Church donations and community support in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy
December 1, 2017 by Tim Hunt
Recounting the events from the early hours of Wednesday the 14th of June 2017
In a world in which fear and terror are now part of everyday conversation it is an uncomfortable realisation that donations to victims of senseless and avoidable tragedies are becoming increasingly common.
However, it is perhaps more shocking when an immense tragedy strikes our shores and it can only be described as a terrible accident and of which the repercussions reach far beyond the direct victims, their families and those in the communities.
It was at around 1.00 am when the emergency services attended a call to the Grenfell Tower Block, Kensington, West London. The tower block was home to hundreds of people occupying some 129 flats, across 24 floors. It is believed that the blaze originated in a flat with a faulty fridge-freezer and it had spread ferociously -aided by the external cladding used on the tower block – which had reportedly failed safety testing. However, until a formal investigation has been conducted it is hard to say with absolute certainty the exact cause of the fire and the contributing factors that lead to such devastation.
Acknowledging the efforts made by ALL in the wake of such heartache
The emergency services, chiefly the London Fire Brigade, battled valiantly against the blaze into the early hours of the morning and beyond. Moreover, without hesitation and with a single minded ambition to the rescue the injured and free the trapped they threw themselves into the inferno.
Subsequently, the aftermath saw them recovering those who had been trapped in the building and offering further assurances to the public that they would not give up hope of finding more survivors ,despite the odds. Tragically, it is being reported that at least 80 people are thought to have been lost in the blaze, although this number is yet to be confirmed whilst the recovery effort is still ongoing.
There will be memorial days, there will be candle light vigils and ultimately calls for accountability to determine the cause of these shocking events.However, rather than attempt to foretell the future, it is more appropriate to reflect on the ways in which the people came together and how the Church was at the heart of much of it, as it served as both a meeting place and a hive for relief activity.
The aftermath of the tragedy saw local communities nationwide come together, united in their collective grief and shock. The victims benefited from a great generosity which saw people opening their homes to the tired and homeless, with children donating their toys to offer comfort to those children suffering the consequences of the disaster.
Welcoming those in need on their own doorsteps
There are numerous examples when looking through reports of the local churches placed at the centre of comfort and prayer. However, a few stories of churches within the immediate vicinity of the Grenfell Tower earn a notable mention in this discussion.
St Clements Church in Notting Dale was inundated with donations in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It lay witness to grieving families and members of the public as they attended mass and made donations of food and clothing to the victims. Additionally, several politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and Teresa May reportedly visited the church to offer their own condolences and assurances relating to the handling of the response effort which was already underway. Through a collective effort and the opening of doors the local churches warmed hearts during a time of confusion and anger they had touched on something more than a call to worship. It demonstrates a basic human desire to show compassion and solidarity , so often forgotten in modern society.
Meanwhile, in Notting Hill similar events unfolded at St Francis of Assisi Church crowds gathered to dispense food and water to those in need. Samantha Cameron, wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron, was seen amongst their numbers. As volunteers continued to migrate to their churches the donations continued to offer provision for those in dire need.
The decision made by communities to walk out onto the streets on mass transcended all cultural and social divides – it was for everyone. Church donations allowed volunteers to fulfil the most basic needs of those seeking basic comforts at a time when the needs of some where most prevalent.
Reflecting on what has come to pass…
In what has been described as a ‘Blitz spirit’ by some,the Church at large found itself at the centre of the local community in Kensington and its surrounding borough. Moreover, it has continued to serve as a point of refuge beyond the immediate wake of the events as people are still trying to come to terms with the events of these recent traumatic events.
It is hard to place the value on church donations and equally the generosity of all in involved cannot be questioned. Ultimately, the effort was a collective, as people of all ages, race, traditions and gender found themselves welcomed into arms of the Church and in return their church donations provided for those in dire need.
The repercussions of this event are far reaching and will prove to be lasting and it is likely that church donations, community support and charitable organisations will continue to find themselves called upon as families attempt to rebuild their lives and make sense of the events that have unfolded.
Recently, the Grenfell Tower enquiry has commenced and it’s aims have been summarised by the presiding judge, as he begins the long task of bringing together all available evidence in order to make a judgement. We can only hope that their is accountability for those involved and that lessons are learnt for the future.
We work closely with churches throughout the UK and beyond and recognise how much charitable and valuable work they provide to their communities day in, day out and we have the up-most respect for the dedication they show whenever they are called upon.
Fully Customisable Church Collection Envelopes from Lockie Limited
by Tim Hunt
With our experienced studio design team, we can fully personalise collection envelopes for your church or charity.
This customisation could include:
– Your church name and location
– Your church crest / logo
– Custom images
– Custom verses
– QR codes
We also have our own designs and verses that can be incorporated onto your envelopes if you are unsure of what customisation you would like on your envelopes. If you are placing your order online, you can upload your own images, logos and verses during the ordering process. If you are ordering over the phone, simply provide us with a jpeg image or text by emailing email@example.com and we’ll do the rest. Please also include your order reference number.
Lockie Ltd can also now print your church collection envelopes in glorious full colour. At present, this option is available exclusively for our Large Style Gift Aid Envelopes. If you would like to apply more colour to your Gift Aid envelopes, please visit our Large Style Gift Aid Envelope page now and select full colour in the customisation menu. Please click here to view the range of collection envelopes and stationery we can provide for your church.
The Importance of Remembering the Holy Souls
by Tim Hunt
The Month of the Holy Souls begins on 2nd November and we discuss the month dedicated to the souls of the departed…..
What is All Souls Day?
All Souls Day is a chance for us to commemorate and honour those who have passed. The Western celebration of All Souls’ Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints’ Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision.
Catholic belief is that the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
Those who, within the octave of All Souls Day, visit the cemetery in a spirit of piety and devotion and pray, even only mentally, for the departed may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions (confession, Holy Communion, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and prayers for the intentions of the Church, such as an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be) on each day of the octave, applicable only to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Reciting prayers or performing other devout exercises for the departed during this month may gain an indulgence of 3 years each day of the month, and a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions daily for the entire month.
During November, we take part in public services held in a church in intercession for the faithful departed may gain an indulgence of 7 years on each day of the month, and a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions if they do so at least 15 days.
History of the Holy Souls
In the sixth century, it was customary in Benedictine monasteries to hold a commemoration of the deceased members at Whitsuntide. According to Widukind of Corvey (c. 975), there existed a time-honoured ceremony of praying to the dead on 1 October in Saxony. But it was the day after All Saints’ Day that Saint Odilo of Cluny chose when in the 11th century he instituted for all the monasteries dependent on the Abbey of Cluny an annual commemoration of all the faithful departed, to be observed with alms, prayers, and sacrifices for the relief of the suffering souls in purgatory. Odilo decreed that those requesting a Mass be offered for the departed should make an offering for the poor, thus linking almsgiving with fasting and prayer for the dead. From there the 2 November custom spread to other Benedictine monasteries and thence to the Western Church in general. The Diocese of Liège was the first diocese to adopt the practice under Bishop Notger (d. 1008).
Prayers for the Departed
We should pray for the dead throughout the year, especially on the anniversary of their death, but in this Month of the Holy Souls, we should devote some time every day to prayer for the dead. We should start with those closest to us—our mother and father, for instance—but we should also offer prayers for all the souls, and especially for those most forsaken.
One of the most commonly recited of Catholic prayers in times past is Eternal Rest. This prayer has fallen into disuse in the last few decades. Prayer for the dead, however, is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform, to help them during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.
We also say prayers for our parents, not just simply out of duty but out of joy. They gave us life and brought us up in the Faith; we should be happy that our prayers can help end their sufferings in Purgatory and bring them fully into the light of Heaven.
For most, it was our mother who nurtured us and helped us understand our Faith. Our fathers are the model of God in our lives and provide guidance when we need it most. We can help repay them by praying for the repose of their souls and help them through the sufferings of Purgatory and into the fullness of Heaven.
The Meaning of Offering
The Month of the Holy Souls is a time for us to be selfless and charitable in the eternal suffering of others. When we offer up our own daily sufferings, we benefit, too, because we learn better to cope with the challenges of our daily life. Whenever we find ourselves in a bad situation, we should remind ourselves that we’re offering it up for the Holy Souls, because the merit of our offering increases when we cope with situations with Christian charity, humility, and patience.
Children, too, can learn to “offer it up,” and they’re often eager to do so, especially if they can offer up the trials of childhood for a beloved grandparent or other relative or friend who has died. It’s a good way to remind them that, as Christians, we believe in life after death and that, in a very real sense, the souls of the dead are still with us. That’s what the “Communion of Saints” that we refer to in the Apostles’ Creed (and every other Christian creed) means.
Lockie provide many churches throughout the UK with Month of the Holy Souls envelopes for parishioner contributions during the month of November. These envelopes can be purchased from the link below: