Devotion to the memory of the Dead
“The devotion to the memory of the dead is one of the most beautiful expressions of the Catholic spirit.”
– Pope Saint John XXIII –
The Catholic Church dedicates the entire month of November to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. November 2nd is All Souls Day, sometimes called the Day of the Dead. During this entire month we pray for the souls of the faithful departed, especially those whom we have known and loved.
Those in purgatory die in the mercy of God; however, because they still had attachment to sin at the time of their death, they must undergo the spiritual purification of their souls before they are able to fully love God with their whole heart, mind, and soul for all eternity. For more information, read What Do Catholics Really Believe About Purgatory?
Those in purgatory cannot pray for themselves, this is why they are called “poor” souls. They can no longer merit anything for themselves and rely entirely on others to pray and make sacrifices on their behalf. As they are nevertheless part of the communion of saints, they depend upon us to help ease their suffering and quickly advance them through their purification so that they can join the saints in heaven.
Prayers for the faithful departed pleases God, who makes use of our prayers to help purify these souls that He loves. It is an act of charity that we can give for those we have known and loved, for our ancestors who gave us life, for those souls whose memory is lost, and for those who have no one else to pray for them.
Here are some ideas for praying for these suffering (and often neglected) souls, especially during the month of November dedicated to their memory:
20 WAYS TO PRAY FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY
Pray the Novena to the Holy Souls.
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.
4. Pray The Way Of The Cross for Souls in Purgatory.
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 at http://plenary-indulgences.webs.com/.
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).
8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
9. Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great: tradition holds that St. Gertrude was told that piously reciting this prayer releases 1,000 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: “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.” This prayer carries a partial indulgence applicable to the poor souls.
12. Practice the tradition of praying the Eternal Rest prayer (above) before and after your meals as an easy way to pray for the holy souls daily. 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 daily within the octave of All Souls Day (November 1-8) you can gain a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in purgatory.
14. Eucharistic Adoration: make reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for those in purgatory.
15. Sacrifices: practice acts of self-denial 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 at:
17. Ask for the intercession of saints who were known to be great friends of the Holy Souls during their lifetime: 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 for the holy souls. Consider buying purgatory books with more prayers and special devotions for the Holy Souls.
19. Repent go to confession: Confessing your own sins makes your prayers for souls more effective.
20. Spread devotion to the Holy Souls: Make others aware of the great need these suffering souls have for our prayers.
Article taken from The Catholic Company: