The Bible tells us that "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins" (2 Maccabees 12:46), and especially in the month of November, the Catholic Church urges us to spend time in prayer for those who have gone before us.
The Church offers a special plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, on All Souls Day (November 2), but She also encourages us in a special way to continue to keep the Holy Souls in our prayers throughout the first week of November. The Church offers an Indulgence for a Cemetery Visit that is available as a partial indulgence all year round, but from November 1 through November 8, this indulgence is plenary. Like the All Souls Day indulgence, it is applicable only to the souls in Purgatory. As a plenary indulgence, it remits all punishment due to sin, which means that simply by performing the requirements of the indulgence, you can obtain the entrance into Heaven of a soul who is currently suffering in Purgatory.
For most of us, the indulgence for a cemetery visit takes only a few minutes, and yet it reaps immense spiritual benefit for the Holy Souls in Purgatory--and for us as well, since those souls whose suffering we ease will pray for us when they enter into Heaven.
(Two gravestones in Saint Mary and Saint James Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois. Photo © Scott P. Richert.)
Prayers for the Faithful Departed:
- Weekly Prayers for the Faithful Departed
- Eternal Rest
- Eternal Memory
- Prayers for November: The Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory
More on Purgatory and Indulgences:
- On the Last Things and Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven - Lesson Thirty-Seventh (from the Baltimore Catechism No. 2)
- Reader Question: What Happened to Purgatory?
- Reader Question: Does the Church Still Believe in Purgatory?
- Reader Question: Is There a Scriptural Basis for Purgatory?
- Reader Question: Prayer for the Dead
- Reader Question: Was Christ's Death Enough?
- Reader Question: Why Do Catholics Believe in Purgatory?
- On Indulgences - Lesson Twenty-First (from the Baltimore Catechism No. 2)