All Souls Day

The feast of All Souls reminds us that no human life is perfect, not even the Christian life. However, God loves us even when we are not perfect, and that the love of God does not abandon the souls of our departed brothers and sisters in the faith even when they did not measure up to the ideals of Christian perfection. The Church teaches that the souls which, on departing from the body, “are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, almsdeeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass”.  Someone wrote: Purgatory is a part of heaven, it is the remedial place for heaven-bound souls. Souls who go to purgatory are those who have been judged worthy of heaven, but they still need some purification because, according to Revelation 21:27, “nothing unclean shall enter it (heaven)”.

We, Catholics, believe in purgatory. When we lose loved ones, Catholics and Protestants alike pray for the dead. We all say, “May their souls rest in peace.” Our prayers cannot help souls in hell. Our prayers cannot help those in heaven either. Any sort of prayer for the dead has meaning insofar as the souls of the dead are in an interim state where they have not yet reached perfect union and peace with God, and where our prayers can help them get there. That is purgatory.

In the feast of All Souls we pray for the souls of the faithful departed who are being purified in purgatory. In this we profess our belief that, just as God has not stopped loving these poor souls because of their imperfections, neither have we.

A partial indulgence for the souls in purgatory can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

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.

To attain a plenary indulgence, three conditions must accompany the prescribed act:

the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after the pious act is performed,

receive Holy Communion on that day

and recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).

All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. If one’s disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial.

One must also remember that one can acquire one plenary indulgence a day.

Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

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.