Guest post by Kevin Greenlee
Among the multitude of riches which the Oxford Movement added to the Anglican patrimony was the advent of many Anglican devotional guilds and societies such as the Society of Mary and the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. While diverse in their specific devotional ends, many of them had as their motivation the desire to restore lost devotion to the English Church and make restitution for neglected spiritual duties.
It’s my conviction that the three Ordinariates would benefit greatly from bringing versions of these societies to life within the full communion of the Catholic Church. Such societies will provide opportunities for lay members of the Ordinariate to grow in holiness while making restitution for neglected spiritual duties, and they will be a gift to the whole Church Catholic.
In 1873, the Guild of All Souls was founded as one of these societies. The purpose of the society was to further the practice of “intercessory prayer for the Dying and for the Repose of the Souls of the Departed,” to promote Requiem Masses, and to bring emphases to “the two great doctrines of the Christian Creed: ‘The Communion of Saints’ and ‘The Resurrection from the Dead.”
Individuals, priest and lay, who joined the guild would swear to take on certain spiritual responsibilities and gain certain benefits. Members would be responsible to say a written prayer for dying and deceased members of the Guild by name; to attend an All Souls Day Mass and intercede for deceased members and for All Souls; to say a monthly Litany for the Faithful Departed; and to support devotions for the Faithful Departed in their local parish. In addition to these duties, priest members of the guild would be expected to celebrate Mass at least once a year on behalf of the Guild and to offer regular Requiem Masses. Finally, all members would be responsible for arranging that notice of their death be given to the Guild.
Being a member of the Guild would also come with certain benefits. First, members of the Guild would be prayed for annually on the anniversary of their death by all members of the Guild, and Requiem Masses would be offered by priest members of the Guild for the repose of their souls. In addition, Guild members could add the names of deceased friends and families to the Guild’s roll.
To accomplish all this, the Guild took a modest membership fee and used the proceeds from the fee to publish annually a booklet containing the prayers of the Guild and the names of the deceased, as well as more regularly publishing information about members currently dying.
I have had it on my heart for a while to bring a version of the Guild of All Souls to life within the full communion of the Catholic Church under the auspices of the Ordinariate. It is the duty of all Catholics to pray for the dead, and I especially believe it is important for those of us who for much of our Christian lives have neglected this responsibility.
I am currently looking at the process of creating an International Association of the Faithful under the name “The All Souls Guild” and am hoping to get episcopal oversight from Bishop Lopes, but I am still awaiting response from the chancery. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate hearing from those who might be interested in joining the Guild or participating in its formation. In particular:
- If there is anyone with knowledge of the canonical process involved in creating an International Association of the Faithful, I would greatly appreciate your expertise in putting this project together.
- Similarly, if there is anyone with knowledge of how to set up the Guild to be able to collect membership fees and donations in a way that is legal and compliant with best practices, I would greatly appreciate your expertise.
- It will be critical for us to have priests amongst our early adopters in order to be able to have Requiem Masses said for members. If you are a priest and are interested in being involved, please reach out to me. If you think your priest might be interested, please bring this to his attention.
If you are interested in becoming involved in The All Souls Guild, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and God Bless.