All Souls Day
On November 2nd the Church celebrates the feast of All Souls and kicks off a month dedicated to remember and pray for the Holy Souls.
Who are the Holy Souls and why do they need remembering?
As Catholics we believe that, at the end of each of our lives, we will go to one of three places--Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.
Those who die in the grace and friendship of God but still need cleansing from the temporal effects of sin go to Purgatory. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Purgatory as “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).
Many saints have likened the suffering of the Holy Souls to those in Hell though instead of eternal torment, the Holy Souls’ experience a temporary, cleansing fire to ready themselves for full union with God.
We believe that the Holy Souls still play an active part of the Body of Christ (often called the Church Suffering), which is why “praying for the dead” is a Spiritual Work of Mercy. The souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves and need our prayers and sacrifices to enter fully into the Beatific Vision.
The Church invites us to pray for the dead in a special way on All Souls Day and throughout the month of November.
What do the saints have to say about the Holy Souls?
“I saw my guardian angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames, which were burning them, did not touch me at all. My guardian angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God.” – St. Maria Faustina Kowalska
“If, during life, we have been kind to the suffering souls in purgatory, God will see that help be not denied us after death.” – St. Paul of the Cross
“By assisting [the Holy Souls] we shall not only give great pleasure to God, but will acquire also great merit for ourselves. And, in return for our suffrages, these blessed souls will not neglect to obtain for us many graces from God, but particularly the grace of eternal life. I hold for certain that a soul delivered from Purgatory by the suffrages of a Christian, when she enters paradise, will not fail to say to God: ‘Lord, do not suffer to be lost that person who has liberated me from the prison of Purgatory, and has brought me to the enjoyment of Thy glory sooner than I have deserved.’” – St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
How can we pray for the Holy Souls?
In November, consider praying for your deceased family and loved ones in the following ways:
-Pray at a cemetery
-Have a Mass offered for the dead
-Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
-Pray the Rosary
-Pray the Office of the Dead
-Pray this prayer from St. Gertrude the Great:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.