What is Purgatory?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), purgatory is a “final purification” (CCC 1031) which is afforded to “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” so that they might “achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030). This is why the souls in purgatory are called “Holy Souls”…they have died in God’s grace and they will attain heaven and the beatific vision after their purification is complete.

This is a journey of faith and we hope that over the next thirty days you use this prayer book to assist you with your prayers and devotions. We need to pray on a regular basis so that we are prepared for our eternal life. Take time to welcome your loved ones back, to draw closer to them and to remember that someday, for those who believe in Jesus Christ, that at the end of this journey will be the greatest reward; Heaven, the reward of eternal life where we will all be united again in Christ.

There are several ways to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

  1. Have Masses said for your departed loved ones, especially on the anniversary of his or her death. This is an act of love and remembrance; it can also be a way of making up for absences from Mass. Also having a mass said for the dead is a loving way of affirming the importance of the Mass and asking that our loved ones now come to understand and appreciate what they didn’t understand on earth.
  2. Pray the special Holy Souls Rosary. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy Rosary is the most powerful prayer.
  3. 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. For example: a. devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the dead during November 1-8 b. devoutly recite the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart prayer.
  4. 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). We can make our gift “in the name of our loved ones” or to honor their memory; we can give to their favourite charity; or contribute a gift to our Church. We can pray that any act of justice that was left undone by our family member (perhaps due to an unexpected death), might now be repaired by our act of charity.
  5. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
  6. Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great: tradition holds that St. Gertrude was told that piously reciting this prayer releases 1,000 souls from purgatory.
  7. 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. It is a symbol of refreshment and washing, like a spring rain.
  8. When passing by a cemetery, pray the short Eternal Rest prayer. This prayer carries a partial indulgence applicable to the poor souls.
  9. 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.
  10. Spread devotion to the Holy Souls: make others aware of the great need of these suffering souls in our prayers.
  11. Offer your forgiveness to those who have died who may have offended you during their lifetime – even if it was insignificant or long forgotten. Re-establish peace in this way. You can also ask forgiveness of those who have died whom you may have offended. This is not only for the good of your own soul, but also to complete and perfect the purification and enlightenment of your loved ones.