November starts and closes with beautiful liturgical drama in the Catholic Church. The Feast of All Souls reminds us of all those unnamed saints who lived lives of holiness and practiced extraordinary virtue. This reminds us of where we should place our aspirations: Being saints is the only way to fulfill the promise of our baptism. Close on the heels of All Saint’s Day, we, as the Church Militant, intercede for the Church Expectant in All Soul’s Day and throughout the month of November devoted to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Refresher on Purgatory
Purgatory is where those who, penitent at death and open to the heavenly embrace, go through a period of purification to cleanse us of the venial sins – those bad habits – we had not fully conquered in life and to helps us work through the consequences of mortal sins for which we received absolution on Earth through Confession. Purgatory is for those who have strived in goodness, but are not yet pure enough to see God face to face. It follows the judgment we meet at death, and precedes our heavenly embrace.
The Church Militant – all of us – have a critical role to play in the economy of salvation for those souls in Purgatory: Their movement through this cleansing fire is aided by our prayer intentions, Mass offerings, indulgences offered, almsgiving, and other holy works. So do pay close attention to remembering your loved ones during the month of November, this monthly reminder of our all-the-time duties to the dead.
What you can do during November
I like to assembly photos of those who have died on our home altar (over the fireplace or on a table will do). I set candles there as well. When we pray grace, we thank God for the gift of each of the lives of those who have died. We pray that they are resting in the loving arms of the Heavenly Hosts, or are speeding toward those arms.
Offer your Masses, and ask for special Masses to be said, for those who have departed, during November and on month and year anniversaries of their death, that moment when we rejoice in their ascent to everlasting life.
Add these prayers to your November offerings:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. And, may their witness energize us in our journey to heaven.