November is the month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. 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.
There are three indulgences specifically associated with this month, available pursuant to the usual conditions:
On All Souls Day itself, 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 Nov. 1 and 8, you can visit a cemetery and pray for the dead. Any time of the year, you can obtain 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.
I hope that someday we’ll arrive in Heaven to be greeted by a lifetime of souls who were freed from Purgatory with the help of our prayers!
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.