Today is All Souls Day, the second of November, and during the month of November, the Church remembers the faithful departed. Why? Because once you are baptized you are a member of the Church for eternity, and even though our body dies, our soul lives forever.
On many occasions, Jesus spoke to us about heaven and hell. The Church has taken Our Lord’s words seriously and teaches us that if we wish to go to heaven then we need to be in the state of grace when we die. However, a person may be in the state of grace when he or she dies, but may not have a completely pure soul, and only those souls that are completely pure enter heaven. As the Bible says, “nothing unclean can enter” heaven (Rev. 21:27). That’s the purpose of purgatory: to purify our souls.
When a loved one dies, we often have unspoken regrets and wish we could have said “thank you” more often to them during life or could have shown them greater love. By praying for the souls in purgatory, we can help them now and show our love. It is never too late.
Because souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves, they need the faithful on earth to pray for them, so they can enter into heaven more quickly. If you truly love your family and friends who have died, you should pray for them at Mass, in the Rosary, and other opportunities you have for prayer. During the month of November, try to gain a plenary indulgence (more on that tomorrow) for the faithful departed.
The Mass is the single most powerful prayer we can offer for a soul in purgatory. For that reason, since time immemorial, the Church allows a priest to celebrate three Masses on All Souls Day. Normally, the priest is allowed to celebrate only one Mass a day, but the needs of the souls in purgatory are so great, that on November 2, a priest can celebrate the Mass two more times.
For the next nine days, we will pray for the faithful departed three times a day: at noon Central Time during the Mass, at 3 pm during the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and at 7 pm during the Family Rosary Across America. By praying together, let us hope that a million souls be released from purgatory and enter into the joy of heaven this month.
So yes, your prayers, by God’s grace, can really help someone who has died.