See Church Sunday Missal Volume 1, (No 02) (p-966ff)
November is the month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. There is evidence in Scripture that there is a purgatory. In the Old Testament 2nd Macabees says, “it is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead …” The Jews believed in purgatory. Purgatory is not an invention of the Catholic Church. In the New Testament Our Blessed Lord spoke about purgatory. For example: Our Blessed Lord said: “the sin against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven in this life or in the next,” meaning that some sin is forgiven in the next life.
In heaven there are no sins to forgive. In hell, sin is not forgiven. Therefore, there must be another place after death, where sins can be forgiven. The only prayers that can help the souls in purgatory are the prayers of us who are still living on this earth. The souls in purgatory cannot do anything more through their own prayers to release themselves from purgatory. The Holy Souls are already praying and suffering as much as they can to be released. For this reason, the holy souls plead for us to pray and make sacrifices for them.
We need to give all our heart to prayers and sacrifices for the souls in purgatory. We need to plead to others to also pray and make sacrifices for the souls in purgatory. The State of Purgatory St Augustine: “The time of purgatory will be more painful than anything man can suffer in this present life.” St Catherine of Genoa: In the 1st Century she was a great mystic who actually experienced purgatory. She said: “The souls in purgatory endure a pain which no tongue can describe, and no intelligence comprehend.” It is generally understood that the souls in purgatory are not immersed in a physical fire but a fire wholly different from anything known on earth. However, there are many reports of souls in purgatory being immersed in fire.
For example: A man was visited by his mother who had been dead for 30 years. She reproached him for his lukewarmness and begged him to have Masses offered for her soul. Then she laid her hand on his sleeve leaving a burn mark. These stories and many other are verified and kept in the “museum of purgatory” in the Vatican. The chief pain in purgatory is the pain of separation from God. At Judgment, the Holy Souls, have an experience of God. To be deprived of His Presence, after experiencing Him, is an unimaginable pain. Even though the pains in purgatory are great, the souls in purgatory are at peace because having experienced Our Blessed Lord at Judgment, they want to be in purgatory to repair or make up for their sins, and they are prepared to suffer any pain in order to be with Our Lord again.
Power of intercession to the souls in purgatory: When we pray for the souls in purgatory the souls in purgatory pray for us and their prayers are very, very powerful. Their prayers are powerful because their suffering is great. For example, St Catherine of Bologna said that whatever favour she asked through the souls in purgatory she was granted immediately. Blessed John Messias often prayed the rosary for the holy souls. In return they obtained for him the most abundant and extraordinary graces and these holy souls came at the hour of his death to accompany him to heaven. This fact is so certain that it is inserted by the church as evidence for his beatification. The souls in purgatory look on us with remorse, if not despair, because those of us who live our faith only lukewarmly are making the same mistake that they made.
The souls in purgatory, says St Catherine of Genoa, who had visited Purgatory, look down on us and say, “O wretched creatures, why are you so blindly attached to the things that pass? Why not make provision for the future?” So, what should we do to release souls from purgatory? 1. As often as possible pray and make sacrifices. Also, offer all one’s daily trials or sufferings for these souls especially during the month of November. When we have a cross during November, offer it up for the Holy Souls. 2.Have a mass said for the souls in purgatory. Blessed Henry made agreement with a friend that if one of them were to die the other would offer two masses a week for his soul.
The other died first. Blessed Henry immediately commenced offering up two masses a week for his soul. After a long time when Blessed Henry felt that his friend had gone to heaven, Blessed Henry ceased the mass offerings. Later the friend appeared to Blessed Henry to tell him that he was still in purgatory. Blessed Henry told him that even though he had stopped the offerings at mass he had often prayed for his friend. The friend said the mass is the most powerful prayer for releasing souls out of purgatory. Blessed Henry then continued the practice of offering two masses a week for his friend. Soon after he was visited again by his friend, but this time he was in heaven. 3. Make a plenary indulgence. A Plenary Indulgence can be offered for oneself or for any intention. When offered for a soul in purgatory that soul goes to heaven. Only one Plenary Indulgence can be granted per day. Therefore, we should do all we can to try to fulfill the conditions for a plenary indulgence each day.
How to gain a Plenary Indulgence on a particular day: 1. Holy Communion. 2. Sacrament of Reconciliation once every two weeks. (Within 7 days before or after). If one intends to gain a Plenary Indulgence almost every day a single monthly Sacramental Confession suffices. 3. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions, (i.e. An ‘Our Father.’) 4. A work: (i) The Rosary (5 Decades) prayed with at least one other person or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, or (ii) The Stations or, (iii) 30 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament or, (iv) Visit the sick or the imprisoned, or the elderly, or the lonely or anyone in need or, (v) Act of abstinence, almsgiving. (vi) There are also other works. (On All Souls days instead of a work you only need to pray the Creed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.)
During November one Mass per day will be offered for the souls recorded in the Parish Remembrance Book. The cost for the entire month is $15.00. You may record as many people as you like for $15.00. The St Gertrude prayer: The Church says that many, perhaps one thousand souls will be released by this prayer: ‘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 sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, Those in my own home and within my own family.’
Fr. Doug Harris 2020