By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to a certain devotion. In November, it is the Holy Souls in Purgatory
, those faithful Christians who have died and gone before us but who still must atone for their sins. The time they spend in Purgatory cleanses them so that they may enter Heaven free from all effects of sin.
Praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is a requirement of Christian charity. Our own prayers and sacrifices can be offered up to relieve their suffering. Some or all of the following prayers can be incorporated into our daily prayers during this month.
One of the most commonly recited of Catholic prayers in times past, this prayer has fallen into disuse in the last few decades. Prayer for the dead, however, is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform, to help them during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.
This prayer is used in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches and is the counterpart to the Western prayer "Eternal Rest." The "eternal memory" mentioned in the prayer is remembrance by God, which is another way of saying that the soul has entered heaven and enjoys eternal life.
The Church offers us different prayers that we can say each day of the week for the faithful departed. These prayers are especially useful for offering a novena
on behalf of the dead.
Charity requires us to pray for the dead. In the case of our parents, to do so should not be simply a duty but a joy. They gave us life and brought us up in the Faith; we should be happy that our prayers can help end their sufferings in Purgatory and bring them fully into the light of Heaven.
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For most of us, it was our mother who first taught us to pray and helped us to understand the mysteries of our Christian Faith. We can help repay her for that gift of faith by praying for the repose of her soul.
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Our fathers are the model of God in our lives, and we owe them a debt that we can never fully repay. We can, however, pray for the repose of our father's soul and thus help him through the sufferings of Purgatory and into the fullness of Heaven.
While we know (and the Holy Souls in Purgatory know) that the pains of Purgatory will end and all who are in Purgatory will enter into Heaven, we are still bound by charity to try to lessen the suffering of the Holy Souls through our prayers and deeds. While our first responsibility, of course, is to those people we have known, not everyone who ends up in Purgatory has someone to pray for him. Therefore, it is important to remember in our prayers those souls who are most forsaken.
This beautiful prayer, drawn from the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, reminds us that Christ's victory over death brings us all the possibility of eternal rest. We pray for all of those who have gone before us, that they, too, may enter into Heaven.
Christ's mercy encompasses all men. He desires the salvation of everyone, and so we approach Him with confidence that He will have mercy on the Holy Souls in Purgatory, who have already proved their love for Him.
The De Profundis
takes its name from the first two words of the psalm in Latin. It is a penitential psalm that is sung as part of vespers (evening prayer) and in commemorations of the dead. Every time you recite the De Profundis
, you can receive a partial indulgence
(the remission of a portion of punishment for sin), which can be applied to the souls in Purgatory.