In Honor of All Souls
November is traditionally the month in which the Church remembers Her dead,
and in a special way we are invited to remember our family and friends who have
died, especially those who have passed in the previous year. ... This is then
followed on November 2nd by All Souls Day, where we remember and pray for
Many people are not aware that the Holy Souls in Purgatory suffer terribly – far worse than any of us, here on earth, could ever possibly imagine. In fact, the Blessed Virgin Mary told the visionaries in Medjugorje, “The Holy Souls in Purgatory suffer the same torments as the souls damned to hell.”
And because they are now in the afterlife, they no longer possess the same gift of free will that we are blessed with. Therefore, they depend entirely upon us to help them. And although they suffer in such dire agony, they do so with a willing heart, because they know, in time, they will be released and taken into Heaven, unlike the lost souls eternally damned to hell.
The length of time spent there, varies from person to person, for some it is short; from others, it could be centuries. However, we can help by praying for their release. St. Gertrude the Great is invoked for souls in purgatory and for living sinners. Our Lord told St. Gertrude that the following prayer (See below) would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said. The prayer was extended to include living sinners as well.
TIME EXTENDED IN NOVEMBER TO RECEIVE PLENARY INDULGENCE
Traditionally, the faithful could receive a full indulgence each day from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8 when they visited a cemetery to pray for the departed and fulfilled other conditions, and, in particular, when they went to a church or an oratory to pray Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day.
The Vatican decided to extend the time one can receive a full indulgence to include the whole month of November, he said. Typically, only a partial indulgence is granted after the first week of November.
Those who cannot leave their homes or residence for “serious reasons,” which includes government restrictions during a pandemic, he said, also can receive a plenary indulgence after reciting specific prayers for the deceased or reflecting on a Gospel reading designated for Masses of the dead before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or by performing a work of mercy.
*In all cases, one also must fulfill the normal requirements set by the church for all plenary indulgences, which demonstrate a resolve to turn away from sin and convert to God. Those conditions include: having a spirit detached from sin; going to confession as soon as possible; receiving the Eucharist as soon as possible; praying for the pope’s intentions; and being united spiritually with all the faithful.
Prayer by St. Gertrude to Release the Souls From Purgatory
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.
20 ways to pray for the souls in purgatory
2. Offer up your Holy Communions for the souls in purgatory.
3. Have Masses said for your departed loved ones, especially on the anniversary of his or her death.
5. Pray the special Holy Souls Rosary. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy Rosary is the most powerful prayer.
6. Obtain indulgences: Indulgences reduce or cancel the temporal punishment that we incur through sin.* There are many ways to obtain indulgences through pious actions, and we can apply their merits to the dead. You can find a partial list of indulgences here.
If you visit a church or oratory on All Souls Day and there recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle's Creed, you can earn a plenary (full) indulgence applicable only to the souls in purgatory (under the usual conditions).*
7. Give alms: The giving of material assistance to the poor has
always been considered a penance that can be offered for the Holy Souls. "For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin" (Tobit 12:9).
9. Prayer of St. Gertrude for the Holy Souls: this prayer is attributed to St. Gertrude the Great and was the prayer by which she obtained the release of many souls from purgatory.
10. Sprinkle holy water on the ground: St. John Macias, a great friend of those in purgatory, would often sprinkle holy water on the ground for the spiritual benefit of the suffering souls.
11. When passing by a cemetery, pray the short Eternal Rest prayer. This prayer carries a partial indulgence applicable to the poor souls:
"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."
12. Practice the tradition of praying the Eternal Rest prayer (above) before and after your meals as an easy way to remember to pray for the holy souls every day. You can also pray the prayer between the decades of your daily rosary.
13. Visit a cemetery: Pray over the graves of your departed loved ones, or visit a random graveyard and pray for those who may have no one to pray for them. Simply doing this gains a partial indulgence for those in purgatory.* While you're there, sprinkle holy water on the graves. If you make this visit during the first eight days of the month dedicated to the Holy Souls (November 1-8) you can gain a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in purgatory.
14. Eucharistic Adoration: visit the Blessed Sacrament to make acts of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on behalf of those in purgatory.
15. Sacrifices: practice small acts of self-denial throughout your day and offer these penances up for the poor souls.
16. Pray the Office of the Dead. You can find this in your volume of the Liturgy of the Hours or online here.
17. Ask for the intercession of saints who were known to be great friends of the Holy Souls during their lifetime to join you in prayer for the faithful departed: St. Nicholas of Tolentino, St. Gertrude the Great, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Padre Pio, St. Philip Neri, St. John Macías, St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Joseph, Our Lady, and others.
18. Special prayers: Throughout your day, offer up short and spontaneous prayers (ejaculatory prayers) for the holy souls. Consider buying purgatory books with more prayers and special devotions for the Holy Souls.
19. Repent of your offenses against God and go to confession: Confessing your own sins makes your prayers for souls of others more effective.
20. Spread devotion to the Holy Souls: Make others aware of the great need these suffering souls have for our prayers.
As you pray for the Holy Souls, don't forget to ask them to pray for you in return once they enter heaven. They will be happy to do so, as they will be most grateful for your prayers and sacrifices on their behalf. This is the beauty of the Communion of Saints! Death does not separate those bonded to one another in Christ!