November is the month dedicated to remembering the Poor Souls in Purgatory. A whole month specifically set aside for this one purpose should tell us just how important it is for the members of the Church Militant to help the members of the Church Suffering.
The souls in Purgatory are very dear to our Blessed Mother, and that alone should motivate us to pray for those souls which are unable to help themselves but who can intercede on our behalf. Knowing they can’t help themselves should also move us to pray for them as an act of mercy and compassion as they are entirely dependent on our charity. It is pleasing to God and is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy for those of us still on earth to help the Poor Souls in Purgatory by prayers and sacrifices.
In his book, Read Me or Rue It, Father Paul O’Sullivan wrote of the terrible sufferings of the souls in Purgatory, stressing that:
“Suffering in Purgatory is so horrible that it would be better for us to suffer all the ills and trials here on earth than to spend just one day in Purgatory.”
The saints have taught that very few of the souls that are saved go directly to Heaven. The majority of the saved must first spend time in Purgatory. Purgatory is temporary, but souls may need to spend a long time there suffering till they are purified and ready for Heaven.
While our sole motivation to help the Poor Souls should be purely for love of God and Our Lady, because of our human weakness, the impetus to perform an act of Charity or to offer a sacrifice is often fueled by a potential reward to be gained.
Here is what Father O’Sullivan says our reward will be for helping the Poor Souls in Purgatory:
In return for our help, “The Holy Souls will repay us a thousand times over. St. Catherine of Bologna says: ‘I received many and very great favors from the Saints but still greater favors from the Holy Souls.’”
“When they are finally released from their pains and enjoy the beatitude of Heaven, far from forgetting their friends on earth, their gratitude knows no bounds … they never cease to pray for those who helped them. By their prayers they shield their friends from the dangers and protect them from the evils that threaten them.”
From November 1st through November 8th
While we ought to pray and offer sacrifices daily throughout the year for the souls in Purgatory, Holy Mother Church gives us a special opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory, once a day for the first eight days in November – i.e., November 1-8, inclusive.
This plenary indulgence may be gained by visiting a graveyard or cemetery and praying for the departed souls. In addition to performing this act, the usual conditions, or rules, for obtaining a plenary indulgence must also be adhered to:
- Confession within 8 days before or after;
- Receive Holy Communion on the same day;
- Reject all attachment to sin, even venial sin;
- Pray for the intentions of the Pope with the intention of gaining the plenary indulgence.
If the disposition with regard to attachment to sin is absent, or if one of the other three prescribed conditions is not fulfilled, the indulgence gained is partial.
Indulgence on November 2
On the Feast of All Souls, or All Souls Day, November 2, another indulgence may be gained by visiting a church and reciting one Our Father and one Apostles Creed, making sure to adhere to the same above-mentioned conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence – i.e., Confession, Holy Communion, complete detachment from all sin even venial sin, and praying for the intentions of the Pope.
Traditional Intentions of the Papacy
Here are the intentions of the Pope, as defined by the Church, no matter the personal intentions of the reigning pontiff:
- The exaltation of the Church
- The propagation of the Faith
- The extirpation of heresy
- The conversion of sinners
- The concord between Catholic rulers
- The further welfare of the Christian people
For more information, see Mr. Plese’s article on The Six Intentions of the Holy Father.
A Prayer of the Church
Pray for the Poor Souls and encourage others to do so as well. The Poor Souls will thank you!
It is recommended that all Catholics memorize the following special prayer for the deceased and pray it frequently, including after praying the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
Here is the text in Latin:
“Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.”