It is a Spiritual Work of Mercy to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, imploring God to purify the souls of the dead “by the fire of His charity” and to bring them at last to their Heavenly Home. November is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the faithful are encouraged to pray for the souls of the deceased. Here are five of the most common prayers that the Church recommends.
1. Offer Masses for the Dead
It is a custom in the Church to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for deceased souls. The Directory recommends having Masses offered on the “third, seventh, and thirtieth day following their deaths, as well as on their anniversaries.” Contact your local parish to inquire about offering a Mass for someone.
Pope Benedict XVI recommended that we offer Mass for the dead, so that, once purified, they can come to the beatific vision of God. (Sacramentum Caritatis, 32).
2. Pray the Novena for the Holy Souls
Composed by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, the nine days of prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is a more prolonged way to pray for the deceased. Traditionally it is prayed in preparation for All Souls Day or in the days following the celebration.
3. Visit a Cemetery
An indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the departed. The indulgence is plenary each day from the 1st to the 8th of November; on other days of the year it is partial. Besides benefiting the Holy Souls, visiting a cemetery is a healthy reminder of our own mortality, realizing that we too will pass from this life to the next.
4. Pray the “Eternal Rest” Prayer
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the “Eternal Rest” prayer is prayed with faith. The prayer is as follows:
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.
This prayer is used most often during the liturgical functions surrounding a funeral, but is often prayed by families in connection with prayers before and after meals.
5. Pray Saint Gertrude the Great’s Prayer for the Holy Souls
One of the most popular prayers for the Souls in Purgatory is that of Saint Gertrude the Great. She received many visions of Our Lord during her lifetime and expressed to Jesus her great desire to pray for the deceased. In return, Jesus taught Saint Gertrude the following prayer. It is piously believed that 1,000 souls are released from purgatory by saying this payer with the heart.
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 all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Summarized by Theresa Frances