Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Family Celebration Ideas for Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day

by Jennifer Gregory Miller and Margaret Gregory

Descriptive Title

Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day


Suggestions and ideas to create a Catholic atmosphere in the home (Domestic Church) for Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Includes the Litany of the Saints and De Profundis (Out of the Depths), Psalm 130.

Larger Work


Publisher & Date

Original, October 1999


History All Hallows' Eve  [TOP]

The Solemnity of All Saints is celebrated on November 1. It is a solemnity, a holyday of obligation and the day that the Church honors all of God's saints, even those who have not been canonized by the Church. It is a family day of celebration—we celebrate the memory of those family members (sharing with us in the Mystical Body, the doctrine of the Communion of Saints) now sharing eternal happiness in the presence of God. We rejoice that they have reached their eternal goal and ask their prayers on our behalf so that we, too, may join them in heaven and praise God through all eternity.

The honoring of all Christian martyrs of the Faith was originally celebrated on May 13, the date established by the fourth century. Pope Boniface IV in 615 established it as the "Feast of All Martyrs" commemorating the dedication of the Pantheon, an ancient Roman temple, into a Christian church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. By 741, the feast included not only martyrs, but all the saints in heaven as well, with the title changing to "Feast of All Saints" by 840.

In 844, Pope Gregory IV transferred the feast to November 1st, timing it around the harvests to be able to provide food for the pilgrims. Some scholars believe this was to substitute a feast for the pagan celebrations during that time of year. Pope Sixtus IV in 1484 established November 1 as a holyday of obligation and gave it both a vigil (known today as "All Hallows' Eve" or "Hallowe'en") and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast.

This feast is marked with liturgical observances that have changed over the centuries. By 1955, the octave and vigil of All Saints were abrogated. Instead of a separate vigil on the calendar, the celebration begins the evening before, as mentioned in The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar:

Solemnities are counted as the principal days in the calendar and their observance begins with evening prayer of the preceding day. Some also have their own vigil Mass for use when Mass is celebrated in the evening of the preceding day.

In the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours, solemnities and Sundays are begin with Evening Prayer I (the evening before) and Evening Prayer II (the evening of the solemnity).

In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed", hence the name "All Hallows' Day". The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en".

Many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, "All Hallows' Eve" (now known as Halloween), such as pancakes, boxty bread and boxty pancakes, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread with hidden charms), colcannon (combination of cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as "Nutcrack Night" in England, where the family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider and nuts and apples. In England "soul cakes" are another traditional food. People would go begging for a "soul cake" and promise to pray for the donor's departed friends and family in exchange for the treat, an early version of today's "Trick or Treat."

November 2, the Feast of All Souls, is the date designated to pray for all the departed souls in Purgatory. In many countries this is an important day. Families cook special foods and make a special day's outing to cemeteries to tend to the graves, pray for the family dead.

The feasts of All Saints and All Souls fall back-to-back to express the Christian belief of the "Communion of Saints." The Communion of Saints is the union of all the faithful on earth (the Church Militant), the saints in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and the Poor Souls in Purgatory (the Church Suffering), with Christ as the Head. They are bound together by a supernatural bond. The Church Militant (those on earth still engaged in the struggle to save their souls) can venerate the Church Triumphant, and the saints can intercede with God for those still on earth. Both the faithful on earth and the saints in heaven can pray for the souls in Purgatory. During these two days we see the Communion of Saints really in action!

On All Souls Day and November 1-8 one can gain plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls. See Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences for more details.

Purpose and Focus of Party  [TOP]

We have entered the 21st century. It is getting harder to be "in" the world but not "of" the world. How are we to tread carefully to find balance in a secular holiday? We have an onslaught of Halloween witches, ghosts, goblins, vampires, etc. everywhere we turn. How do we bring a message to our children to say that being a Christian does not mean that we cannot have fun and enjoy some secular practices? How do we convey that that we must not constantly be negative and condemn everything?

To answer this, we must to put on the mind of the Church. All through the centuries the Church has taken secular feasts and tried to "sanctify" or "Christianize" them. This is one of the reasons that December 25 was chosen for Christmas—that was the time of the winter solstice or Saturnalia festival, with many pagan traditions during their celebration. The feast day of All Saints itself came from the dedication of the Pantheon, a pagan temple, into a Christian church, undoubtedly another way of sanctifying the secular and pagan. Missionaries familiarize themselves with the culture and religion of the country before they can convert the native people. The missionaries have to be able find some elements in their culture that can help these people identify and understand Christianity at their level. St. Paul tried it with the Greeks. Seeing their altar to the Unknown God, he saw that through their own pagan altar he might bring them to Christianity.

It is beautiful to remember that we can recognize and enjoy simple earthly pleasures as gifts from God. Many of the practices of Halloween are innocent fun and some deal with healthy reminders of death, sin and the devil. Some parts of Halloween can be extreme. Since the All Saints and All Souls feasts are back-to-back, we can balance some of the focus of Halloween to the Communion of Saints in action. We combine honoring the saints in heaven, remembering our loved ones and then earn graces for our own souls by prayer and actions. Through this approach we see the Mystical Body in action.

The following party is just a starting point. My family has done this type of celebration since I was six years old. We have had both young and old, priests, religious and lay people, and even whole schools adopt this type of party. Depending on the age of the children dictates the intensity of the party. Besides Florence Berger's Cooking for Christ, other ideas can be extracted from Mary Reed Newland's The Year and Our Children.

These parties combine fun, elements of surprise and macabre with a focus on the aspect of the Communion of Saints. The Poor Soul sketch is completely optional, adding a small element of "scary". We have never had any child scarred from the little "scare" in the cemetery. If they were a little taken aback, after showing the true identity of the "Poor Soul" the child's initial fears are immediately smoothed. The Poor Soul visit puts the graveyard into personal perspective. It reminds us to think of our immortal soul and why we are here. The visit is also a reminder to be praying for the Poor Souls, since the month of the Poor Souls starts the next day, and that could be us when we die.

The Poor Soul visit is a little friendly reminder, a bit like Charles Dickens' Bob Marley when he visits Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. We have the same verbal reminder on Ash Wednesday, when we are told that we shall return to dust, and to remember the purpose of our life on this earth!

There are some in the school of thought that Halloween is nothing but a pagan celebration and should be suppressed, that we as Christians we should not even acknowledge this day because we shouldn't give it a stamp of approval. I don't have that mindset. I want my children to enjoy innocent fun. Some Halloween traditions such as Jack O'Lanterns, innocent costumes, "trick or treating" and parties are simple ways to enjoy Halloween, knowing that even in just plain celebrations we can always praise God. It can also be fun to to return to the older Catholic traditions of Halloween and have an alternative party to honor the saints, pray for the Poor Souls and prepare spiritually for two great feast days of the Catholic Church. (— Jennifer Gregory Miller)

Basic Outline of Party  [TOP]

1. Costumes of saints are the suggested apparel for the party. Each child can prepare a short synopsis of his saint for a guessing game later in the party. The costumes can be very simple, with just a symbol for the saint, or very elaborate, depending on the time and the enthusiasm of the family. There are many books on the lives of the saints, with a variety of age levels, with many containing illustrations. Having the child do his own research to find the saint that he wants to dress up as will help him learn about them.

2. The festivities begin with a rosary. If said before the Vigil Mass of All Saints, the meditation can be Eucharistic. Otherwise, it is prayed for the Poor Souls, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the saints. This is the Communion of Saints at work! The De Profundis [Psalm 130 (129) Out of the Depths] is said or sung.

3. There follows a candlelight procession, while singing the Litany of the Saints, to the graveyard. If one is not able to go to a real cemetery, you can create your own "graveyard." There must be four tombstones or grave markers:

  1. Departed Family;
  2. Departed Friends;
  3. Departed Clergy;
  4. Forgotten Dead.

You can make these markers yourself out of wood or stone, to be used again every year. We used pieces of scrap lumber, painted white, and formed crosses. We then painted the names on the crossbar. These are just to represent the souls we need to remember in prayer. Assure the guests that the representation of graves is not to scare, but just symbols.

At each tombstone lay red berries and an evergreen branch to symbolize the passion of Christ which wrought eternal life for us. Then prayers for each group are said after the berries and evergreen are placed. There may be a "Poor Soul" from Purgatory present for a surprise visit and fearful reminder of the loss of sanctifying grace.

4. Suitable games, i.e. guessing the names of the saints of some of the children, and/or a play, preferably with feast day significance. For older children, a scavenger hunt could be organized, with different groups going around the neighborhood searching for items on the list, instead of "Trick or Treating." If the setting is appropriate, a bonfire, or even just a fireplace could provide the right setting for a sing-along and/or marshmallow roast.

5. Refreshments can include traditional recipes such as soul cakes, colcannon, barmbrack (see Recipes), donuts, popcorn, cider, nuts, apples or some kind of apple cake or bread. Remind the children to pray for the dead as a return for the snacks. Some food may be left in the graveyard and adds an interesting touch when the children get ready to leave and the food is gone.

6. At the conclusion of the night, sing or recite the Dies Irae in English or Latin, then the children get a bag of candy to take home. On the bag should be some reminder that the treats of this world are passing--a reminder to the child whenever he partakes of his candy. Each bag and admonition can be individualized for each child. For example: "Take care to store your 'treats' in heaven." "These earthly treats will pass away. Be mindful to store your treasure in heaven." (Some children may need reminders to share, etc.) The candy is saved for All Saints Day, when the Church rejoices with all the saints in celebration. The bags can be distributed with an element of the scary so as to end in excitement.

7. The order may be changed in the schedule. If the party is at home, a sign to remind all to pray for the dead, as well as red berries and evergreen should decorate the inside and outside. Jack-o-lanterns are appropriate also. The adults should take part fully too, either in saints' garb or by being the Damned Departed for a touch of scare. A room for "Hell" can be created. A sign "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here" is above the door. A sheet covers the doorway and a silhouette of Satan stands with a light behind it, creating a life size demon. Eerie music or noises can be played in the background. This reminds the children of the ever present reality of Hell.

On All Saints Day, you can celebrate after Mass by wearing the costumes again, as well as a special dinner and dessert. Games may be played also. The Litany of the Saints should be prayed after the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary. There can be a discussion of the beatitudes or some other applicable theme.

All Souls Day should also be sober, reminding the children to make sacrifices for the dead. At least one Mass should be attended and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary prayed. A visit to the graveyard can gain a plenary indulgence as well as teach a vivid and interesting lesson.

There are plenary indulgences, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, that can be obtained during this time. One plenary indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed between November 1 and November 8. For more details see Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences.

A plenary indulgence is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

To attain the plenary indulgence, three conditions must accompany the act of visiting the cemetery or church: the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after, receive Holy Communion on that day, and recite prayers for the intention of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).

Suggested Time Schedule for a Halloween Party  [TOP]

6:30:    Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for the souls in purgatory through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints. In between decades recite the Eternal Rest invocation. Conclude with the De Profundis [Psalm 130 (129) Out of the Depths]:

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord:
Lord, hear my voice.
O let Thine ears consider well: the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities:
      Lord, who shall abide it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness:
      and because of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath waited on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night:
       let Israel hope in the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy:
       and with Him is plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel: from all his iniquities.
Glory be to the Father, etc.

7:00:    Procession to the graveyard chanting the Litany of the Saints. (Suggestion: Since it is hard to read in the dark, have someone record beforeahand the singing of the Litany, so the tape player can be used during the procession).

Litany responses:

Have mercy on us;
Pray for us;
Deliver us, O Lord;
We beseech Thee hear our prayer.

7:15:    Prayers at the graveyard for deceased family, friends, clergy, and forgotten dead. Berries and evergreen are left on each grave to symbolize that it is Christ's Passion and Death which brings us eternal life.

7:30:    Procession home singing (or playing as background music) Dies Irae.

7:45:    Refreshments. Tableau of the Communion of Saints. Games such as "Who Am I?"

8:30:    Children receive bagged candy and depart.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

Suggested Script for the Poor Soul in Purgatory:  [TOP]

A "poor soul(s)" dresses in long dark robes and paints face gruesomely to look dead and under torture. The "soul(s)" hides in the graveyard and waits until all the prayers are recited for the dead. The leader may give a cue such as "Remember to pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. They suffer so. Are there any poor souls out there now to hear us?..."

The "Poor Soul(s)" then rattles chains and moans while still shrouded in darkness. She comes out slowly, painfully, speaking mournfully: (Put flashlight under face when speaking)

Children of God, (This may need to be repeated several times until all are paying attention.)

Children of God, and members of His Holy Church. We (I) have come from Purgatory to beg your prayers, and to urge you to amend your lives.

While I lived on earth, I was forgetful of my true home in heaven. My sins were not so grave as to condemn me to Hell, but neither did I strive to love God with my whole heart and soul, mind and will. I am now bound to suffer....(Trail off in a moan) Oh, the sufferings I endure now in order to purify my love and make up for my sins.

My Brothers and Sisters in the Mystical Body, begin today to change your ways. Be obedient to your parents and to the Church. Pray! Pray much!! Especially assist at Holy Mass and receive the sacraments often. Pray the Rosary and wear the Scapular. You must make up for your sins and the sins of others now, before you die, by making sacrifices and offering up your daily duty. Remember, it is in the Cross that we most resemble Jesus, our Savior. And finally, love His Vicar on earth, Pope John Paul II, and His Blessed Mother Mary, who is our Mother, too.

I must leave you now to return to my temporary prison of suffering. How I long for Heaven" (Here moan a little.) Then shout: "Pray for me! Pray for all the faithful departed! REPENT NOW!!!!" (Trail off)

Turn flashlight off and hide in darkness again.

A Sample Invitation  [TOP]

If this idea is very new, make sure all that are invited know the full extent of the program. The following is a suggested format.

You Are Invited to An All Hallows Eve Party

ON:        October 31, 1992

AT THE HOME OF:       Name, Address

FROM:          6:00 PM until about 8:00 PM, Refreshments will be served.

DRESS:       The garb of a favorite saint (or your own Patron Saint). Moms and Dads join in!



It is definitely fun, but it is definitely different! I am enclosing a rough schedule of the party to help you decide if you wish to join us. We hope you will!

6:00: The festivities begin with recitation of the Rosary. The Sorrowful Mysteries are prayed for the souls in Purgatory, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints. (This is the Communion of Saints at work.)

6:20: Procession to our "graveyard" chanting Litany of the Saints.

6:25: Prayers at the "graveyard" for "Family," "Friends," "Clergy," and the "Forgotten Dead." Berries and evergreen are left at each grave to symbolize that it is Christ's Passion and Death which brings Eternal Life.

6:30: Dinner and refreshments.


Distribution of bagged candy to children before departure.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Each family will be responsible for their own children's candy. We "brown bag" ours for each child and write the child's name on the bag with a short admonition, i.e., "These earthly treats will pass away. Be mindful to store your treasure in heaven." (Some of my children may get reminders to share, etc.) Each bag and admonition are individualized—a future reminder to the child whenever he partakes of the candy!

R.S.V.P. Phone #

Know Your Saints Quiz  [TOP]

1. I am the apostle to the Gentiles whose letters you read in the Bible.

2. I am the first American citizen to be canonized whose work among the immigrants gave me the title of 'Patron of All Immigrants.'

3. I am the Carmelite saint whose "Little Way" shows us how offering joys and sorrows daily can make us a great saint.

4. I am the foster father of Christ and the patron of a happy death.

5. I am the cousin of Jesus who prepared the way for the Lord.

6. I am the woman who offered my veil to wipe Jesus' face when He was carrying His cross.

7. I am the apostle chosen by Christ to be head of His Church.

8. I am the missionary who made Ireland famous for its piety and learning.

9. I am the beloved apostle and the writer of the fourth gospel.

10. I am the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose baby was Presanctified.

11. I am the patron saint of music because I sang the praises of God while I was cruelly put to death.

12. I am the modern day saint who chose martyrdom rather than to be impure.

13. I am the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus.

14. I am the valiant young girl who led France to victory over England and then suffered death by being burned at the stake.

15. I am the 'Little Poverino' whose order is now the largest in the world and who so resembled Christ in my life that I was privileged to bear His sacred wounds in my own body.

16. I am the 'Wonder Worker' of Padua and a Doctor of the Church.

17. I am the Patron saint of schools who was once called the Dumb Ox by my classmates but who wrote many treatises on the faith. My teacher was St. Albert the Great.

18. I am the saint who reformed the Carmelite Order and who became the first woman Doctor of the Church.

19. I am the simple parish priest who was tormented by the devil because my great sanctity brought my people closer to God.

20. I am the Visitation nun to whom Jesus appeared showing His Sacred Heart and to whom He delivered His message of love and plea for reparation.

Choices (with question answered in parenthesis):

St. Peter (7) St. Therese of Lisieux (3)
St. Anthony (16) St. Joan of Arc (14)
St. Elizabeth (10) St. Anne (13)
St. John the Baptist (5) St. John the Apostle (9)
St. Margaret Mary (20) St. Patrick (8)
St. Maria Goretti (12) St. Paul (1)
St. Teresa of Avila (18) St. Cecilia (11)
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (2) St. John Vianney (19)
St. Joseph (4) St. Thomas Aquinas (17)
St. Francis Assisi (15) St. Veronica (6)

* 20 point bonus for those who know the century in which their saint lived.

* 5 points for each piece of information you know about your saint.
   (— Margaret Gregory)

Prayers  [TOP]

  1. Requiem or "Eternal Rest" Prayer
  2. De Profundis
  3. Litany of the Saints
  4. Sequence Dies Irae, Dies Illa


Eternal Rest Invocation   [BACK]   [TOP]

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat eis. Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.


Psalm 130 (129) De Profundis   [BACK]   [TOP]

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!
Lord, hear my voice!
Let thy ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee,
    that thou mayest be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

Translation from Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA.


Litany of the Saints   [BACK]   [TOP]

P: Lord, have mercy.
All: Lord, have mercy.

P: Christ, have mercy.
All: Christ, have mercy.

P: Lord, have mercy.
All: Lord, have mercy.

P: Christ, hear us.
All: Christ, graciously hear us.

P: God, the Father in heaven.
All: Have mercy on us.

P: God, the Son, Redeemer of the world.
All: Have mercy on us.

P: God, the Holy Spirit.
All: Have mercy on us.

P: Holy Trinity, one God.
All: Have mercy on us.

P: Holy Mary, pray for us, (After each invocation: Pray for us.)
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,

St. Michael,
St. Gabriel,
St. Raphael,
All holy angels and archangels,
All holy orders of blessed spirits,

St. John the Baptist,
St. Joseph,
All holy patriarchs and prophets,

St. Peter,
St. Paul,
St. Andrew,
St. James,
St. John,
St. Thomas,
St. James,
St. Philip,
St. Bartholomew,
St. Matthew,
St. Simon,
St. Thaddeus,
St. Matthias,
St. Barnabas,
St. Luke,
St. Mark,
All holy apostles and evangelists,
All holy disciples of the Lord,
All holy Innocents,

St. Stephen,
St. Lawrence,
St. Vincent,
SS. Fabian and Sebastian,
SS. John and Paul,
SS. Cosmas and Damian,
SS. Gervase and Protase,
All holy martyrs,

St. Sylvester,
St. Gregory,
St. Ambrose,
St. Augustine,
St. Jerome,
St. Martin,
St. Nicholas,
All holy bishops and confessors,

All holy doctors,
St. Anthony,
St. Benedict,
St. Bernard,
St. Dominic,
St. Francis,
All holy priests and levites,
All holy monks and hermits,

St. Mary Magdalen,
St. Agatha,
St. Lucy,
St. Agnes,
St. Cecilia,
St. Catherine,
St. Anastasia,
All holy virgins and widows,

P: All holy saints of God,
All: Intercede for us.

P: Be merciful,
All: Spare us, O Lord.

P: Be merciful,
All: Graciously hear us, O Lord.

From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.* (After each invocation: Deliver us, O Lord.)
From all sin,
From your wrath,
From sudden and unprovided death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill will,
From all lewdness,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquakes,
From plague, famine, and war,
From everlasting death,

By the mystery of your holy incarnation,
By your coming,
By your birth,
By your baptism and holy fasting,
By your cross and passion,
By your death and burial,
By your holy resurrection,
By your wondrous ascension,
By the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate,
On the day of judgment,

P: We sinners,
All: We beg you to hear us.

That you spare us, * (After each invocation: We beseech you hear our prayer.)
That you pardon us,
That you bring us to true penance,
That you govern and preserve your holy Church,
That you preserve our Holy Father and all ranks in the Church in holy religion,
That you humble the enemies of holy Church,
That you give peace and true concord to all Christian rulers,
That you give peace and unity to the whole Christian world,
That you restore to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from
     the truth, and lead all unbelievers to the light of the Gospel,
That you confirm and preserve us in your holy service,
That you lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
That you grant everlasting blessings to all our benefactors,
That you deliver our souls and the souls of our brethren, relatives,
     and benefactors from everlasting damnation,
That you give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That you grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
That you graciously hear us,
Son of God,

P: Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
All: Spare us, O Lord.

P: Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
All: Graciously hear us, O Lord.

P: Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
All: Have mercy on us.

P: Christ, hear us.
All: Christ, graciously hear us.

P: Lord, have mercy.
All: Christ, have mercy.

P: Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)
P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.

Taken from The Roman Ritual, Complete Edition, Editor Philip T. Weller, S.T.D., Copyright 1964 Philip T. Weller, The Bruce Publishing Company


Sequence Dies Irae, Dies Illa    [BACK]   [TOP]

The Hymn of the Church, in Meditation of the Day of Judgment

Dies iræ, dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favílla:
Teste David cum Sibýlla.

Day of wrath and doom impending,
David's word with Sibyl's blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending!

Quantus tremor est futúrus,
Quando Iudex est ventúrus,
Cuncta stricte discussúrus!

O what ear man's bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth!

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepúlcra regiónum
Coget omnes ante thronum.

Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Through earth's sepulchres it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.

Mors stupébit et natúra,
Cum resúrget creatúra
Iudicánti responsúra.

Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.

Liber scriptus proferétur,
In quo totum continéetur,
Unde mundus iudicétur.

Lo! the book exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded;
Thence shall judgment be awarded.

Iudex ergo cum sedébit,
Quidquid latet, apparébit:
Nil inúltum remanébit.

When the Judge His seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.

Quid sum miser tunc dictúrus?
Quem patrónem rogatúrus?
Cum vix iustus sit secúrus?

What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
When the just are mercy needing?

Rex treméndæ maiestátis,
Qui salvándos slavas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietátis.

King of majesty tremendous,
Who doest free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!

Recordáare, Iesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ,
Ne me perdas illa die.

Think, kind Jesu! —my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation;
Leave me not to reprobation.

Quærens me, sedísti lassu:
Redemísti, crucem passus;
Tantus labor non sit cassus.

Faint and weary Thou has sought me,
On the Cross of suffering bought me;
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?

Iuste Iudex ultiónis,
Donum fac remissiónis
Ante diem ratiónis

Righteous Judge! for sin's pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ere that day of retribution.

Ingemísco tamquam reus;
Culpa rubet vultus meus:
Supplicánti parce, Deus.

Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning;
Spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!
Qui Maríam absolvísti,
Et latrónem exaudísti,
Mihi quoque spem dedísti.
Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given

Preces meæ non sunt dignæ;
Sed tu bonus fac benígne
Ne perénni cremer igne.

Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.

Inter oves locum præsta,
Et ab hædis me sequéstra,
Státuens in parte dextra.

With Thy sheep a place provide me,
From the goats afar divide me,
To Thy right hand do thou guide me.

Confutátis maledíctis,
Flammis ácribus addíctis,
Voca me cum benedíctis.

When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to shame and woe unbounded,
Call me, with thy Saints surrounded.

Ora suplex et acclínis,
Cor contritum quasi cínis:
Gere curam mei finis.

Low I kneel, with heart's submission,
See, like ashes my contrition!
Help me in my last condition!

Lacrymósa dies illa,
Qua resúrget ex favílla
Iudicándus homo reus.

Ah! that day of tears and mourning!
From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgment must prepare him:

Huic ergo parce, Deus;
Pie Iesu Domine,
Dona eis réquiem. Amen.

Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
Lord, all-pitying, Jesu blest,
Grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.


Hallowe'en Recipes  [TOP]

  1. Soul Cakes
  2. Colcannon
  3. Barmbrack


Soul Cakes    [BACK]   [TOP]

The following recipe is an adaptation of an old Shropshire formula. The light fluffy buns, delicious for any occasion, are especially appropriate for Halloween. Serve them hot, with plenty of butter and strawberry or raspberry jam. Accompany them with mugs of cider; or with hot chocolate, topped with marshmallows, for the young; or with coffee or tea for those who are older.

6 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg white, slightly beaten

Cream shortening and sugar. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water to which a teaspoon of sugar has been added. Set aside. Scald milk and add to the creamed mixture. When cooled add yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly blended. Sift together flour, salt, and spice, and add gradually to other ingredients, kneading into a soft dough.

Set sponge to rise in warm place in greased covered bowl. When doubled in bulk, shape into small round or oval buns. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg white. Bake in moderately hot oven (400° F. for 15 minutes. Drop temperature to 350° F. and bake until delicately browned and thoroughly done.

YIELD: 18-24 cakes, according to size.

from Feast-Day Cakes from Many Lands by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, ©1960.

Colcannon    [BACK]   [TOP]

There are several versions of this traditional potato dish (also known as Halloween Champ) which has nourished and comforted Irish people for centuries. So popular is it that poems have been written and songs have been sung in its honor. Serves 8.

2-2 1/2 lbs. "old" potatoes (e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerr's Pinks)
1 small Savoy or spring cabbage (about 1 lb)
1 cup milk

2-3 tablespoons chopped spring onions (scallions)
2 oz or 1/2 stick of butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on. Put them in a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

When the potatoes are about half-cooked (15 minutes or so) strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put on gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.

Discard the dark outer leaves of the cabbage, wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Cook in a little boiling salted water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain, season with salt, pepper and a little of the butter.

When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk into a saucepan with the scallions and bring to a boil. Pull the skins off the potatoes, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough of the hot milk to make a fluffy purée. (If you have a large quantity you can do this in a food mix.

Stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. Colcannon may be prepared ahead up to this point and reheated later in a 350°F oven. Put in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil before reheating so that it doesn't get crusty on top. Serve in a hot dish with a lump of butter melting in the center.

Adapted from The Festive Food of Ireland by Darina Allen ©1992.


Hallowe'en Barmbrack    [BACK]   [TOP]

A traditional fruit bread with hidden charms!

4 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 level teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 stick butter
3/4 oz. yeast (or 2 teaspoons dried yeast)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups tepid milk
1 egg, beaten

1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped candied peel

1 pea
1 ring
1 silver coin
1 short piece of matchstick, each wrapped in greaseproof paper.

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2-3 tablespoons boiling water

Sift the flour, spices and salt into a bowl, then rub in the butter.

Cream the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 2 teaspoon of the tepid milk; it should soon bubble slightly.

Pour the remaining tepid milk and the egg into the yeast mixture and combine with the dry ingredients and the sugar. Beat well with the wooden spoon or knead with your hand in the bowl until the batter is stiff but elastic.

Fold in the dried fruit and chopped peel, cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Knead again for another 2-3 minutes and divide between two greased 1 lb. loaf tins.

Add the charms at this stage, making sure they are well-distributed. Cover again and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough comes up the top o the tin. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 1 hour. Test with a skewer before taking out of the oven.

Glaze the top with the sugar dissolved in the boiling water. Turn out to cool on a wire rack and when cold slice into thick slices and butter generously. Barmbrack keeps well, but even when it's stale it is very good toasted and buttered.

For Further Reading  [TOP]

For more or different ideas, consult the following books:

  • The Year and Our Children, by Mary Reed Newland
  • We and Our Children, by Mary Reed Newland
  • Cooking for Christ, by Florence Berger
  • The Holyday Book, by Francis X. Weiser, S.J.

See also other online articles:

This item 1230 digitally provided courtesy of