From November 1 to 8, find out how you can send one or more
of your departed loved ones from Purgatory to Heaven in an instant!

The salvation of one’s eternal soul is serious business. And we are often left to wonder about the souls of our dearly departed who have left this life and gone on to the next. Is there any way we can know, or even help determine, where they will spend eternity?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there most certainly is. Through the power of prayer, it is actually not that difficult to obtain a PLENARY INDULGENCE (if this phrase sounds like Greek to you, you’re not alone! Please see the full definition in the box below). Once secured, a plenary indulgence (in plain English) frees a soul from Purgatory; now that is something to get excited about!

Saint Padre Pio reminds us that it is never too late to pray for a departed soul, whether a person died recently or long ago: “For the Lord, … everything is an eternal present. Those prayers had already been taken into account so that even now I can pray for the happy death of my great-grandfather!”

There are various prayers and means composed for this singular purpose and you will find three of the most efficacious listed here.

1)  Visit a Catholic Cemetery

Each November, the Church gives us an extraordinary gift that we can extend to our “dear suffering friends.” From November 1-8, a plenary indulgence is available for Catholics in a state of grace who visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the dead.

This means that when you visit a cemetery where a loved one is buried and you pray for them during the first 8 days in November, their soul will leave Purgatory and go straight to Heaven.

Besides benefiting the Holy Souls, visiting a cemetery is a healthy reminder of our own mortality, realizing that we too will pass from this life to the next.

2)  Pray the Novena for the Holy Souls

Composed by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, the nine days of prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is a more prolonged way to pray for the deceased. Traditionally, it is prayed in preparation for All Souls Day or in the days following the celebration.

Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.

R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)

Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

3)  Pray Saint Gertrude the Great’s Prayer for the Holy Souls

One of the most popular prayers for the Souls in Purgatory is that of Saint Gertrude the Great. She received many visions of Our Lord during her lifetime and expressed to Our Lord Jesus her great desire to pray for the deceased. In return, Our Lord taught Saint Gertrude the following prayer. It is piously believed that 1,000 souls are released from purgatory by praying this payer with the heart.

Saint Gertrude’s Prayer for Holy Souls

Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus,

in union with the Masses said throughout the world today,

for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory,

for all sinners everywhere,

for sinners in the universal Church,

those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

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

Am I my brother’s (mother’s, father’s, aunt’s, uncle’s) keeper?

Some may still think this Purgatory thing is, well, just a little too much. I mean, we have enough on our plates just getting through every day… much less having to consider our deceased relations and where they are to spend eternity.

So here we give you five considerations on the gift of mercy that the Church’s teaching on Purgatory truly is and why we have been called to show a greater concern than Cain in answering for our brother… and other relatives, too!

1. The pain is real

The suffering of purgatory is likened by the saints to burning in a blazing fire.

In fact, some saints have even said that the pain of purgatory is not all that different from the suffering of hell. One of the chief sources of the pain is the fact that salvation has been obtained, and yet one cannot immediately enjoy its consolations.

This delay of the enjoyment of heaven leads to a spiritual agony of sorts. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains it like this:

The more one longs for a thing, the more painful does deprivation of it become. And because after this life, the desire for God, the Supreme Good, is intense in the souls of the just (because this impetus toward him is not hampered by the weight of the body, and that time of enjoyment of the Perfect Good would have come had there been no obstacle), the soul suffers enormously from the delay.

So the souls in purgatory are suffering in a very real and painful way, a way we cannot fully comprehend. We have the ability to help them and relieve them by our prayers and actions.

2. They are our relatives 

Many of us have blood relations—grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and parents—who have died and are likely in purgatory. We should be praying for their souls out of love for them. But even if we have no deceased relatives that we know of, the souls in purgatory are still our spiritual brothers and sisters. We are related by baptism in Christ, and this familial relationship should spur us to act on their behalf.

3. You will probably go there

Let’s be honest, most of us are simply not holy enough to bypass purgatory, and the vast majority of us will experience its cleansing fires. If you were suffering intensely, wouldn’t you want someone to offer you relief? Yes, you would! Praying for the Holy Souls, then, is a fulfilment of the Golden Rule given to us by Christ — to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you feel an aversion to praying for the poor souls, then simply remember what you would wish if you were in their position.

4. It will bring you Joy

Praying for the souls in purgatory is not without its rewards. Can you imagine the joy of meeting brothers and sisters in Christ one day in heaven and realizing that you helped them with your humble prayers?

“As we enter Heaven we will see them, so many of them coming towards us and thanking us,”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said,

“We will ask, who they are, and they will say a poor soul you prayed for in Purgatory.”

The small sacrifice of time we made in this life will all be worth it when we see the faces of those who benefited from our prayers.

5. It isn’t that difficult

Praying for the souls in purgatory is quite easy, so easy in fact that we have no excuse for not doing it. A prayer for the Holy Souls can be as simple as the short Requiem Aeternam prayer:

“Eternal rest, grant unto him/her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him/her. May he/she rest in peace. Amen.”

We can also add a brief petition to our daily meal prayer:

“Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts…And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Why wouldn’t we pray these simple prayers daily?

Finally, one can have a Mass said for the poor souls. This merciful almsgiving is pleasing to God and hardly burdensome to us.

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

Plenary Indulgences – General Conditions

The following “General remarks on Indulgences” from Gift of the Indulgence summarizes the usual conditions given in the Church’s law (cf. Apostolic Penitentiary, Prot. N. 39/05/I):

  1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”.
  2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works.
  3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed. [i.e. one must be a Catholic, not excommunicated or in schism.]
  4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
    1. have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
    2. have sacramentally confessed their sins;
    3. receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
    4. pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
  5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.
  6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
  7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.