November, the Month of the Holy Souls, and No Discrimination/Why We Pray for the Dead


Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord….

Let us remember our beloved dead always, but especially this month dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory.

If we remember the dead, they will intercede for us. Their prayers are very powerful, indeed.

“By assisting them 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. Augustine of Hippo

Don’t forget to make a trip to the cemetery each day from November 1st to November 8th. You gain a partial/plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) for a soul in purgatory on every day you do this!!

IMG_3169This is the little cemetery that is about a mile from our home. We are fortunate that we discovered it, tucked away, hidden and obscure. We have made many a trip there in November… getting stuck or slipping into the ditch, through rain, snow and biting winds,…..as we kneel to give relief to one of our faithful departed.

In these first days of November, there have been times we have been headed to bed, sometimes with PJ’s on, when one of the kids looked at us wide-eyed, “We haven’t gone to the cemetery yet!”

Out come the housecoats and slippers as we pile in the van to tear over to the little graveyard. The kids can’t bear the thought of a soul in purgatory, waiting all day to get relief, only to have us forget about them!! They know the value of a plenary indulgence for these souls!

And if we have a house-full of guests (not unusual), the whole menagerie joins us, piling into vans and cars, some scratching their heads wondering what the hubbub is about, and finding they learned something new about their Faith.

So, do remember the souls in purgatory. There are many other ways to give them relief, if we can’t make it to the cemetery. We should pray for them always but this is the month to really focus on them!!!!

One day we will be in their place……


From The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland

November is the month of praying for the dead; so this proposes discussion. We want the children to pray generously, boldly, not only for “our dead” but for all the world of the dead.

Strangely enough, this is their way if they are left to themselves. Rarely are they content with our conventional phrasing, “relatives and friends and all the souls in Purgatory.” They care about so many and want to name them by name.

I was icing a cake one day, and one of the boys was watching hungrily.

“Who’s he?” he asked, pointing to Paul Revere on the sugar package. So I told him the story of Paul Revere.

“Boy. He was pretty brave to do that. Is he dead?”

“Yes. That happened a long time ago.”

That night at prayers we listed our intentions and our dead, and he added, “And Paul Revere, in case he’s in Purgatory.”

Yes, Paul Revere, and Rudyard Kipling, because he wrote the Jungle Book, and the Just-So Stories, and Kenneth Grahame because cause he wrote Wind in the Willows, and Beatrix Potter for Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit.

They pray for Stephen Foster because they sing his songs, and all the ones who wrote their favorite music; for the Brothers Grimm, of course, and Hans Andersen.

Then there is Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, and all the dead in the cemeteries (for whom we pray when we drive by cemeteries), and the dead in the newspapers, and the accident victims.

Add to these the bad dead, like Stalin and Hitler (whom they do not even know except from history books or, now and then, grown-ups’ conversation), and the dead who have died without Baptism, “because we hope they got baptism of desire,” also the dead of the terrible persecutions, and the bad Indians who martyred the Jesuits, the dead in our floods, and of course the dead who have no one to care about them or pray for them.

The listings could go on all night, just as the lists for All Souls Day could go on all day.

But this is good, because we don’t know about the dead. If they are in Heaven, our prayers will be used for someone else, and if they are beyond saving, our prayers will be used for someone else.

Always, we must remember how much God loves souls and how dearly He paid on the Cross in order to save them. Charity is not just for this world. It extends to the world where so many we have loved, and God has loved, must wait and endure purification, “as though by fire.”

Masses, prayers, sacrifices – all must be encouraged for the dead. Blessed John Massias used to sprinkle holy water on the ground, saying that it was an efficacious devotion together with prayers for the souls in Purgatory. His story Warrior in White, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, is a good read-aloud aloud story for November.

In the Canon of every Mass, there is a special memento for the dead, so we can remind our children the night before and on the way in the morning to make their Mass intention for the dead. We can encourage them to sacrifice in order to give an offering for a Mass for the dead.

We can remind them after they have been to confession that for the few moments it takes them to make the Stations of the Cross or to recite the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament and pray for the intention of the Holy Father, there is a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in Purgatory.

We can faithfully attend Forty Hours’ devotion, parish Holy Hours, or whatever devotions our parish holds by which we may give praise and honor to God and succor to the dear dead.

Above all, let us not fail to teach our children that death is one of the punishments of Original Sin. It was not part of God’s original plan.

If Adam had not committed Original Sin, we would have gone to God in some other way. Now we go through death.

We receive the gift of human life from God at conception and the gift of sacramental life from Christ at Baptism. Death is our opportunity to give life, our life; not merely to lie helplessly and let it be taken from us, but to offer Him with a willing heart this life we received from Him.

We are free to make it our own surrender, in order to go to Him and glory.

November Month of the Holy Souls

Looking over my Finer Femininity FB Page yesterday, I noticed questions about why we pray for our dead. Here are some answers from Radio Replies written in the 1950’s. It is by two priests, Rumble and Carty, who answered questions over the radio…

But the Bible does not mention purgatory.

It does not mention the precise word purgatory. But the intermediate state of purification described by that word is there.

How do you prove the existence of such a state?

In Matt. V., 26, Christ, in condemning sin, speaks of liberation only after expiation. “Thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.” In Matt. XII., 32, He speaks of sin which “shall not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come.” Any remission of the effects of sin in the next world can refer only to purgatory.

Above all St. Paul tells us that the day of judgment will try each man’s work. That day is after death, when the soul goes to meet its God. What is the result of that judgment? If a man’s work will not stand the test St. Paul says that “he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” 1 Cor. III., 15. This cannot refer to eternal loss in hell, for no one is saved there. Nor can it refer to heaven, for there is no suffering in heaven. Purgatory alone can explain this text.

As a matter of fact, all Christians believed in purgatory until the Reformation, when the reformers began their rejection of Christian doctrines at will. Prayer for the dead was ever the prevailing custom, in accordance with the recommendation of the Bible itself. “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.” 2 Mach. XII., 46.

Prayer for the dead supposes a soul not in heaven where it does not need the help of prayer, nor in hell where prayer cannot assist it. Some intermediate state of purification and need, where prayer can help, is necessary. And the doctrine is most reasonable. “Nothing defiled shall enter heaven.” Rev. XXL, 27.

Yet not all defilement should cost man the loss of his soul. Even in this life human justice does not inflict capital punishment for every crime. Small offenses are punished by fines or by temporary imprisonment, after which the delinquent is liberated. Those who deny purgatory teach the harder and more unreasonable doctrine.

How do you know that you can help the souls in purgatory by your prayers?

God would not have inspired the Jews to pray for the departed if such prayers were of no avail. Christians have always prayed for the dead, a practice fully warranted by the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. And if we can pray for our dear ones who are in trouble in this life, our prayers can certainly follow them in their future difficulties. All prayer is addressed to the same God who is as present to the souls of our dear departed as He is to us.

“The mother is the domestic figure par excellence. In teaching your child the meaning of unselfish love you will achieve a greater good than almost any other accomplishment of which human beings are capable.

You are the most important person your child will ever know. Your relationship with him will transcend, in depth of feeling, any other relationship he probably will ever have–even the one with his marriage partner.” -Catholic Family Handbook, https://amzn.to/2LJ48Vu (afflink)

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Seriously wounded at the siege of Pamplona in 1521, Don Inigo de Loyola learned that to be a Knight of God was an infinitely greater honor (and infinitely more dangerous) than to be a Knight in the forces of the Emperor. Uli von der Flue, humorous, intelligent and courageous Swiss mercenary, was responsible for the canon shot which incapacitated the worldly and ambitious young nobleman, and Uli became deeply involved in Loyola’s life. With Juanita, disguised as the boy Juan, Uli followed Loyola on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to protect him, but it was the saint who protected Uli and Juan. Through Uli’s eyes we see the surge and violence of the turbulent period in Jerusalem, Spain and Rome.
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