How to Help the Poor Souls in Purgatory

November is the Month of Poor Souls in the Catholic Church. We can help these souls that are in purgatory.

Purgatory is a temporary stop for souls bound for Heaven and a testament to God’s mercy and love. However, it is a type of suffering.

Many saints describe it as burning in fire and a great desire for God whom they cannot yet be with in Heaven.

Our prayers and sacrifices help these poor souls once we understand purgatory.

What is Purgatory?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030).

It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031). The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC 1032).

How we can pray for souls?

St. Margaret Mary called the holy souls her “dear suffering friends.”

Here are six ways we can help these “dear suffering friends,” in Purgatory during November and the rest of the year.

Visit a cemetery

From Nov. 1-8, Catholics in a state of grace who visit a cemetery and pray for the dead can receive a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory.

St. Mary Church is having a special rosary in the St. Mary Cemetery in North Vernon on Nov. 5 to especially pray for the poor souls in purgatory and give us the chance to obtain these indulgences. The rosary will be at the Priest Circle around 10:30 a.m. We will be coming to pray after the 9:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary. 

You can also obtain a partial indulgence by praying in a cemetery on the other days of the year. Pray at the tomb of a family member or pray at your parish’s cemetery for all those buried there.

Prayer is the best

Offer a Hail Mary,  Memorare or Divine Mercy Chaplet or any other short prayer for the soul of a family member, friend, or anyone else you know who has died.

Provide a Mass Intention

One of the most efficacious ways to release a soul from purgatory is to have a Mass said for them.

You can request to have Masses said for specific people through the parish office. Many religious orders also take Mass requests.

St. Padre Pio’s experiences with the poor souls in purgatory are well documented. One soul told St. Padre Pio that all he needed was one Mass to be released from Purgatory.

Prayer before meals

Many Catholics include the following prayer along with their grace before meals to remember the holy souls or those in their family who have died: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Pray the Office of the Dead

The Liturgy of the Hours that every priest and religious pray as part of their vocation has The Office of the Dead. The Church officially prays it on All Souls Day (Nov. 2), but it can also be prayed as a votive office on other days when said for a specific soul. The laity can pray this prayer as well. It can be found here. 

Recommend Forgotten Souls to God

Many people often pray for “those who have no one to pray for them.”

It’s a way to pray for any souls forgotten in purgatory.

St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “The practice of recommending to God the souls in purgatory, that He may mitigate the great pains which they suffer, and that He may soon bring them to His glory, is most pleasing to the Lord and most profitable to us. For these blessed souls are His eternal spouses, and most grateful are they to those who obtain their deliverance from prison, or even a mitigation of their torments. When, therefore, they arrive in Heaven, they will be sure to remember all who have prayed for them.”