November is the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. If you aren't in the habit of hanging out in cemeteries and praying for the dead . . . well, you're really missing out. And so are the dead.
As Christians, we believe that the dead are not gone. Their bodies have died, but their souls live on forever.
We believe that Jesus will come at the end of time to judge all human beings who have ever lived. This is called the general judgment. But those who die before Jesus comes again face what is called the particular judgment. There are three possible outcomes to the particular judgment: Heaven, Hell, or—for those who loved God, but imperfectly—Purgatory.
One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to Pray for the Living and the Dead. It truly is a beautiful act of charity to pray for these souls who cannot pray for themselves, and to make sacrifices for them since they cannot make sacrifices for themselves.
- On All Souls Day itself (today), if you visit a church, and pray the Our Father and the Creed, you can be granted a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in Purgatory.
- Any time between November 1st and 8th, you can visit a cemetery and pray for the dead. Any time of the year, you can obtain a partial indulgence for praying for the dead in a cemetery, but this week you can obtain a plenary (or full) indulgence. You can obtain one on each of those days.
- A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite any time, but it's especially appropriate during November. We add it to the end of our Grace before meals all month.
"Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."
I have been taking my kids to pray in cemeteries during this week for over ten years now, and I can’t recommend it enough. I hope that someday we’ll show up in Heaven to be greeted by a lifetime of souls who were freed from Purgatory with the help of our prayers!
Honor the dead by praying for the repose of their souls today. It's a wonderful act of mercy!
Kendra Tierney is a forty year old mother of nine and wife of one living in and working on a big old fixer-upper house in Los Angeles. She's a homeschooler and a regular schooler and is counting down the days until her oldest turns sixteen and can take over some of the driving! Her new book, The Catholic All Year Compendium, Liturgical Living for Real Life, is here. You can find her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here.