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Scott P. Richert

November: The Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

By November 1, 2013

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As the weather grows colder and the leaves fall, and Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, it is natural that our thoughts turn to those whom we have loved who are no longer with us.Two gravestones in Saint Mary and Saint James Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

How appropriate, then, that the Catholic Church offers us November, which begins with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, as the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory--those who have died in grace, yet who failed in this life to make satisfaction for all of their sins.

In recent years, perhaps no Catholic doctrine has been more misunderstood by Catholics themselves than the doctrine of Purgatory. Consequently, we tend to downplay it, even seem a little embarrassed by it, and it is the Holy Souls who suffer because of our discomfort with the doctrine.

Purgatory is not, as many people think, one last trial; all of those who make it to Purgatory will one day be in Heaven. Purgatory is where those who have died in grace, but who have not fully atoned for the temporal punishments resulting from their sins, go to finish their atonement before entering Heaven. A soul in Purgatory may suffer, but he has the assurance that he will ultimately enter Heaven when his punishment is complete. Catholics believe Purgatory is an expression of God's love, His desire to cleanse our souls of all that might keep us from experiencing the fullness of joy in Heaven.

As Christians, we don't travel through this world alone. Our salvation is wrapped up with the salvation of others, and charity requires us to come to their aid. The same is true of the Holy Souls. In their time in Purgatory, they can pray for us, and we should pray for the faithful departed that they may be freed from the punishment for their sins and enter into Heaven.

We should pray for the dead throughout the year, especially on the anniversary of their death, but in this Month of the Holy Souls, we should devote some time every day to prayer for the dead. We should start with those closest to us--our mother and father, for instance--but we should also offer prayers for all the souls, and especially for those most forsaken.

We believe that those Holy Souls for whom we pray will continue to pray for us after they have been released from Purgatory. If we live Christian lives, we too will likely find ourselves in Purgatory someday, and our acts of charity toward the Holy Souls there now will ensure that they remember us before the throne of God when we are most in need of prayers. It's a comforting thought, and one that should encourage us, especially in this month of November, to offer our prayers for the Holy Souls.

(Two gravestones in Saint Mary and Saint James Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois. Photo © Scott P. Richert)

Prayers for the Faithful Departed:

More on Purgatory:

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November 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm
(1) Gina says:

How would you explain to some one why it is that the Church does not allow women to be priests. Father Roy Bourgeois is risking excommunication for ordaining women as priests. There are groups that support this. How do I go about properly explaining why the Church prohibits this. Some people think the Church is just being mean & unjust with out thinking there may be some logic to why it’s done this way.

November 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm
(2) Father Daniel OSB says:

I am an Orthodox priest, not a Roman Catholic, but we don’t ordain women either. And a priest does not have the power of orders. That is reserved to a bishop.

November 3, 2010 at 5:30 am
(3) Michael Ezzo says:

The Church does not ordain women because it does not have the authority to do so. It cannot do what it has not the authority to do. It’s really as simple as that. It’s not mean or misogynist; otherwise there would be no such thing as female saints, nuns, or the Blessed Virgin Mother.

November 8, 2011 at 3:30 am
(4) Motivational Speaker Representing the Poor Souls in Purgatory says:

You missed why YOU should pray for the poor souls. Your MAIN benefit is that if you have to go to Purgatory, for whatever reason and whatever time Our Lord decides, the value of OUR PRAYERS FOR YOU to help you progress through purgatory faster are DIRECTLY related to how you prayed for the poor souls while you were alive.

If you prayed, and prayed fervently and often, then my prayers for you will help you. If you didn’t pray for the poor souls, which means you didn’t help others in their time of need when you knew they needed the help, then my prayers for you are of very little value. Yes, we truly reap what we sow.

To get our prayer cards, go to PoorSoulsPrayers.com We lose money with this ministry, which is the way it should be, but we are going to FLY through purgatory…we hope and pray.

Contact your pastor or local diocese office to find out the nearest Purgatorial Society or if any parish offers a monthly Mass for the poor souls. A Purgatorial Society at our church, along with a monthly latin requiem Mass (Praise God!) is in the works at a local church.

Email us for prayer requests and help. Our sins are great and we need to offer much while on this earth. We are happy to share in your pain here to share in your glory there.

Pax, and thanks for the article.

November 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm
(5) frank burns says:

I do pray on a daily basis fir the souls of the dead, my family members some who loved me whilst others abandoned and hurt ne with life long scars. I pray for the friends and priesthood from Beagle Bay Mission, those I was closest to and some I’ve never met. Perhaps by divine Intervention or coincidence neither have I the true knowledge or facts to verify each, I paricipated by Invitation to participate in the burial of a fallen sister and that one event has drawn me, I believe, back to the Roots of my childhood Faith. I recognize my own inequities and sin abd I indeed pray for forgiveness and salvation so that in death, I may receive resurrection.

November 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm
(6) Elizabeth says:

I did visit the cemetary before November, I did attend mass Nov. 1, at the monastery of perpetual adoration, then Nov. 2, went into a church and prayed Hail Mary. My Brother just passed 9-13-13 and, I also had a mass said for him on Nov. 1. I will try to visit the cemetary again this week, But i am not sure what to do, go to confession also??

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