Practices and Devotions
Remembering the Holy Souls all yearlong
Mark the seasons with devotions for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
by Susan Tassone
The souls in purgatory are silent voices that beg and implore our help. They suffer day and night 24/7, 365 days a year, without any relief. They are forever crying out to the living, “Have mercy on us, for we are lonely and poor.”
We urgently need “Apostles of Purgatory” or, if you will, “Purgatory Busters” to speak of them, pray for them, and plead their cause. Be their liberators! We have a unique opportunity to be their voices and echo their cries. If we could see the power of our sacrifices and the Masses offered for the Holy Souls, we would devote ourselves with such earnestness that the whole world would raise their eyes and take notice and would believe.
What have we learned from the saints? We know there is a profound communion between the living and the dead. We know there are no borders between us and those who have gone before us. We know the power and great efficacy of our intercessory prayers. We know the path. Are we ready to begin the journey?
The saints’ journeys are tied together to assist us with a devotion full of fervor and zeal for the Holy Souls in Purgatory — a fervor to be passed on to all future generations, to fulfill our duty as Christians, to honor the memory of the dead, to offer prayers and suffrages for them, and to become holy as the saints are holy.
Special devotional prayers and practices for the various seasons of the year will give you the opportunity to imitate the saints and the charity of God. Reflecting on the deceased every day as a perpetual remembrance brings relief for those beloved souls in purgatory. The fruit of purgatory is purification. The remembrance of purgatorial souls will spur us to avoid sin at all costs; and we will bring glory to God, for heaven will be opened to a multitude of souls.
So it is from us alone that the Holy Souls in Purgatory expect relief, help, and the termination of their sufferings. We are their only resource. We alone are their deliverers, for we alone can suffer with merit and release them. Heaven encourages them; we deliver them.
Our purgatory mission has just begun. The great Pope John Paul II emphasized that the laity will be “missionaries” because contemporary man hears witnesses more easily than teachers. He exclaimed, “You will be able to set the world on fire! The hour of the laity has struck!”(Nov. 26, 2000, Jubilee of the Apostolate of the Laity).
Choose a number of prayers and devotions, Time is of the essence. Use them.
Winter devotions and practices
- Mark your calendar throughout the year for special dates as a reminder to pray for your dearly departed loved ones.
- Offer Masses year-round for living and deceased family members and friends.
- Create a family tree and offer Gregorian Masses (30 Masses for a departed soul) for your parents, grandparents, etc., to the fourth generation. This is very potent and brings many graces.
- Pray for 15 minutes before and after Mass in thanksgiving to Jesus and for all your ancestors who have gone before you. We would not be here if it were not for the sacrifices they made for us.
- Fast on Fridays in honor of our Lord’s Passion. Implement different kinds of fasting such as “fasting” from gossiping, giving in to idle curiosity, complaining, criticizing, watching TV, drinking alcohol, smoking, or other activities that give one pleasure.
Spring devotions and practices
- Offer the gift of your indulgence for the Holy Souls at Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter). Become a “Divine Mercy Apostle” by distributing prayercards and literature inviting all to take advantage of the extraordinary Divine Mercy graces.
- Pray The Divine Mercy Novena (especially the one beginning on Good Friday) and the Chaplet of Mercy daily.
- At weddings, include your deceased loved ones at the petitions of the Mass.
- Plant a “prayer garden” in your yard in remembrance of the Holy Souls.
- Recite Psalm 130, the official prayer of the Church for the Holy Souls.
- When praying the Rosary in May, add an extra decade for the Holy Souls. (Saint Bernadette encouraged this style of Rosary!)
Summer devotions and practices
- Go on your own “purgatory pilgrimage” by visiting local parishes and designated shrines within your diocese. At each, pray for the Holy Souls.
- Take a “prayer stroll” through your local cemetery to pray for all those buried there. Bring holy water to sprinkle on the graves. (It is one of the first sacramentals of the Church. Holy Water refreshes the Holy Souls.)
- Visit the graves of your loved ones and clean sites in a spirit of prayer and penance.
- Pray the Eternal Rest Prayer on your rosary beads. (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.)
- Pray the Seven Penitential Psalms (seven psalms that express sorrow for one’s sins: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143).
Fall devotions and practices
- An indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in purgatory. This indulgence is a plenary one from Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 and can be gained on each one of these days.
- Double up on prayers and sacrifices for departed loved ones and friends during this powerful season of the dead (the November remembrance).
- Visit cemeteries with your children. Teach youth to pray the Eternal Rest Prayer. Again, sprinkle holy water on the graves in the cemetery.
- Light blessed candles. The burning of a candle is a sign of our prayer, a bright, silent intercessor for the Holy Souls.
Excerpted from Praying with the Saints for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
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