Praying for the Souls in Purgatory

On November 2, we observe All Souls Day; on November 8, we observe All Dominican Souls Day.  Especially during November, the month customarily dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, we encourage everyone to pray for the souls in Purgatory.

Why Pray for the Souls in Purgatory?

Our Catholic Faith teaches us: “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven—through a purification [namely, Purgatory] or immediately,—or immediate and everlasting damnation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1022).

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. . . . The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire. . .

From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.  The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.  (From the Catechism, parts of paragraphs 1030-1032.)

Our prayers and good works on behalf of the souls in Purgatory help them be cleansed more quickly from their venial sins and the left-over temporal punishment due to sin.  Once in Heaven with Our Lord, they also remember us gratefully and pray for us in return.

Join us in prayer

As Dominicans, we have a special devotion to praying for the poor souls in Purgatory, and do so frequently throughout the day and more intensely on special days each week and throughout the year.  Our holy Father St. Dominic and many of our Saints lead us in this practice.

Here are some ways you can help the souls in Purgatory this month and all year round:

  • Have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for the souls in purgatory, for your loved ones after their death and every year on the anniversary of their death.
  • Offer your devout attendance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion for the repose of the faithful departed.  Offer other prayers such as the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet, or even a short “Jesus, I love You!” for the holy souls.  You can also visit a cemetery to pray for the departed.
  • Fast, give alms, or do some other work of mercy with the intention of offering it to God for the relief of the souls in Purgatory.  Offer your ordinary daily sufferings for the same intention.
  • Enroll your deceased loved ones in the associations of perpetual prayers offered by many religious orders. You may enroll your departed loves ones to receive a share in our prayers and good works by using the form on our Enrollment Page.
  • Add the simple prayer, May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, to the end of your graces before and after meals.
  • Make provision for your own soul ahead of time, first of all by living a holy life now, but also by leaving money in your will to have Masses offered for the repose of your soul.

If any of those you pray are no longer in need of prayers, Our Lord will certainly use them to help those in most need of His mercy.  Our Lord will certainly bless you for coming to the aid of these often-forgotten souls in Purgatory.

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

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