The Month of November starts off with the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. The following day, Nov. 2nd, the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls. This day, the entire Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, remembers in prayer, sacrifice, and suffrages, the souls in Purgatory. This is the specific Liturgical day to remember our deceased brothers and sisters detained in Purgatory.
However, it should be strongly emphasized that we should really pray for the souls detained in the fires of Purgatory, not just on one day a year, or one month a year, but on all days, at all times, and in all places.
Saint Francis de Sales asserts that helping the souls in Purgatory is one of the greatest acts of charity we can offer. Why? These souls that have passed from this life to the next are already saved by the Blood of the Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world. However, these souls are in dire need of purification of their souls. Either they died with their souls still stained with venial sins or they have not done sufficient penance to repair for past mortal sins. The old commercial expresses the truth clear and to the point: “Pay now or pay later!”
Therefore, as a clear manifestation of concern, compassion, and love for our departed brothers and sisters detained in the purifying fires of Purgatory, let us do all we can to alleviate their sufferings and lead them safely to their eternal home that is Heaven!
Let us reflect and meditate upon what the Church officially teaches on the Dogma of Purgatory as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and then we will offer ten suggestions on what we can do to alleviate the suffering of the souls in Purgatory and help them attain the purpose and end for which they were created—the eternal bliss of HEAVEN!
“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC # 1030)
The Catechism continues explaining in greater detail the name Purgatory, the fundamental difference from Hell, and the Church’s constant teaching on this all-important doctrine in these words:
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith in Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (CCC 1031)
Practices to Undertake to Help and Liberate Souls in Purgatory
Therefore, as a manifestation of our great love, compassion, and concern to come to the assistance of our brothers and sisters detained in Purgatory to be purified of their past sins, let us be generous and strive to do something special for them. Indeed, may our prayers and sacrifices serve not simply to alleviate their pain, but also help them to arrive at their ultimate goal—the eternal bliss of Heaven!
1. Fervent Prayer
Any fervent, honest, noble prayer offered with purity of heart and purity of intention can serve as a means to help the souls in Purgatory. Every day, say at least one prayer for the souls in Purgatory. In doing so, you are practicing one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Give generously to the poor. This might be money, food, clothing, shelter, or even a sleeping bag. However, when practicing your almsgiving, add as an intention the alleviation and liberation of the souls in Purgatory. God hears the supplications of your humble heart!
3. Corporal Works of Mercy (Mt. 25: 31–46)
Practice one or more of the Corporal Works of Mercy and offer these works of love for your neighbor and for the suffering souls in Purgatory. What are they? Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, give clothes to the naked, visit the sick and the incarcerated. Jesus said very clearly: “Whatsoever you do for the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.”(Mt. 25:40)
4. Offer Up Your Sufferings for the Suffering Souls
So much suffering in the world, but so much suffering is actually wasted. How true the saying: “Suffering either makes you better or bitter!” Whatever suffering you may be undergoing, offer it up to God for the suffering souls in Purgatory.
5. What Forms of Suffering?
The suffering you experience that you can offer for the suffering souls in Purgatory can take on various forms and shapes. Suffering can be the following: physical, mental, emotional, moral, spiritual, social, cultural, familial, etc. Do not waste your suffering; unite it to the cross of Jesus for your suffering brothers and sisters detained in the fires of Purgatory.
6. Humiliations and Contradictions
One of the most painful but all too common sufferings in our lives is when we are humiliated by others, often unintentional, but at times even intentional. Offer this for the suffering souls in Purgatory. Also, when your plans have been interrupted and contradicted, why not offer these unplanned and undesired surprises to alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Purgatory who depend upon God’s mercy mediated through our good will, efforts, and sacrifices.
7. Offer Masses
By far the greatest sacrifice we can offer for the souls in Purgatory would be to offer Masses. One Mass is worth more than the whole created universe. Call the Parish Secretary and offer a Mass or Masses for the Souls in Purgatory. How pleasing this is to God and how happy the suffering souls in Purgatory will be due to your offerings!
8. Gregorian Masses
Not always easy to carry out is to request what is called Gregorian Masses, which is 30 consecutive Masses for a person who has died. This dates back to Pope Saint Gregory the Great who promised to offer 30 consecutive Masses for a friend of his who passed away. Only after those thirty Masses was his friend finally released from the intense flames of Purgatory.
An important note: How important it is not to unofficially canonize our deceased relatives and thereby cease to pray for them. This is false compassion. Pray and pray and pray and offer Masses for the deceased. We can never go wrong with this charitable practice.
9. Offer Your Daily Communion
Related to the former point is that of the practice of daily Mass and reception of Holy Communion with this purpose. Make an explicit offering and intention at every Mass you attend, to assist at Mass and receive Holy Communion to alleviate and liberate the souls in Purgatory. Once these souls arrive in heaven, they will be eternally grateful to you and see you as their best friend and benefactor. In turn, they will pray for you!
10. Our Lady & the Rosary
Finally, saints have pointed out in visions and revelations the power that Our Lady has to help and assist the souls in Purgatory. On Marian Feasts and celebrations, the suffering of the souls is alleviated, and many arrive at their eternal destiny—Heaven. Pray the Rosary for the souls in Purgatory.
You might even undertake this practice while praying the Holy Rosary: beg Our Lady that with every Hail Mary prayed, through her most powerful intercession, a soul will pass from Purgatory to Heaven.