November Is All Souls Month
NOVEMBER IS DEDICATED TO THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY
The Church dedicates November to remembering all her faithful children who have departed from this life, but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. November 2 is designated as All Souls day, a holy day set aside for honoring the dead. We are all called to perform works of mercy. Praying for the dead is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Saint Pope John Paul II stressed the need to pray for the souls in Purgatory at several points throughout his papacy.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (1030 & 1031)
During her first months as a postulant in 1925, Saint Faustina asked the Lord for whom else she should pray. The next night she had the first mystical vision revealing the condition of the souls in purgatory. Paragraph 20 of her diary reads as follows:
I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant.
I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call her “The Star of the Sea.” She brings them refreshment.
I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls.
INDULGENCES FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
The Holy Souls cannot reach heaven by their own efforts, but only through our intercessory prayers and sacrifices. Here are some ways to obtain indulgences for the souls in purgatory.
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who on,
- Any and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the departed;
- All Souls’ Day devoutly visit a church and recite an Our Father and the Creed.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who,
- Devoutly visit a cemetery and at least mentally pray for the dead;
- Devoutly recite the prayer Eternal Rest.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
Indulgences do not forgive sins. They only deal with the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven by the sacrament of Penance. An indulgence is partial or plenary according to whether it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due for sins.
The faithful can obtain partial or plenary indulgences for themselves, or apply them to the dead. An indulgence can be attached to various works of piety, both private and public, as well as works of charity and penance. To be capable of gaining indulgences one must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least at the completion of the prescribed works. To gain an indulgence one must have at least the general intention of doing so and must carry out the works at the stated time and in due fashion.
To gain a plenary indulgence, in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin, it is necessary to perform the indulgenced work and fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. One Our Father and one Hail Mary is satisfactory. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work. A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once a day.
For more information consult The Manual of Indulgences, NORMS AND GRANTS, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ English translation of the official source for information about indulgences the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, fourth edition (1999).
SOME PRAYERS FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
- The Rosary
- The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
- Prayer of St. Gertrude
Eternal Father, I offer thee the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
(St. Gertrude showed tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory and urged prayers for them. She is therefore invoked for suffering souls in purgatory.)
- Offering of the Holy Wounds & Precious Blood
Eternal Father, I offer You the Holy Wounds of Your Son, and His Precious Blood, for the conversion of sinners and for the relief of the souls in Purgatory. (St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi)
- Offering of Daily Actions
Eternal Father, by virtue of Your generosity and love, I ask that You accept all my actions, and that You multiply their value in favor of every soul in Purgatory. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen
- Prayer for Deceased Parents
O God, Who has commanded us to honor our father and our mother, in Your mercy have pity on the souls of my father and mother, and forgive them their trespasses; and make me to see them again in the joy of everlasting brightness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen