Prayers for November

Month of Holy Souls in Purgatory

Person kneeling before a cross

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As the weather grows colder and the leaves fall, and Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, it is natural for many of us to think about the people we've loved who are no longer with us.

For the Catholic Church, November begins with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, as the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Perhaps no Catholic doctrine has been more misunderstood by Catholics themselves than the doctrine of Purgatory. Consequently, some tend to downplay it, even seem a little embarrassed by it. But according to Catholic theology, it is the Holy Souls who suffer because of the living's discomfort with the doctrine.

Purgatory is not, as many people think, one last trial. Catholics believe that all of those who make it to Purgatory will one day be in Heaven. Purgatory is where those who have died in grace, but who have not fully atoned for the temporal punishments resulting from their sins, go to finish their atonement before entering Heaven. A soul in Purgatory may suffer, but they have the assurance that they will ultimately enter Heaven when their punishment is complete. Catholics believe Purgatory is an expression of God's love, His desire to cleanse human souls of all that might keep them from experiencing the fullness of joy in Heaven.

Christians believe that they don't travel through this world alone. Their salvation is wrapped up with the salvation of others, and charity requires them to go to their aid. The same is true of the Holy Souls. In their time in Purgatory, they can pray for the living, and the living should pray for the faithful departed that they may be freed from the punishment for their sins and enter into Heaven.

Catholics should pray for the dead throughout the year, especially on the anniversary of their death. In this Month of the Holy Souls, daily prayers should be said for the dead. Those that wish to participate should start with those closest to them—like their mother and father, for instance—but they should also offer prayers for all the souls, and especially for those most forsaken.

Christians believe that the Holy Souls for whom they pray will continue to pray for them after they have been released from Purgatory. Followers of the faith believe that they, too, will likely find themselves in Purgatory someday and that their acts of charity toward the Holy Souls there now will ensure that they remember them before the throne of God when they are most in need of prayers. It's a comforting thought for many, and one that encourages many Catholics, especially during the month of November, to offer their prayers for the Holy Souls.

Eternal Rest

One of the most commonly recited Catholic prayers in times past, this prayer has fallen into disuse in the last few decades. Prayer for the dead, however, is one of the greatest acts of charity Catholics can perform, to help souls during their time in Purgatory so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.

Eternal Memory

This prayer is used in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches and is the counterpart to the Western prayer "Eternal Rest." The "eternal memory" mentioned in the prayer is remembrance by God, which is another way of saying that the soul has entered heaven and enjoys eternal life.

Weekly Prayers for the Faithful Departed

The Church offers Catholics different prayers that they can say each day of the week for the faithful departed. These prayers are especially useful for offering a novena on behalf of the dead.

Prayer for Deceased Parents

Charity requires Catholics to pray for the dead. In the case of our parents, to do so should not be simply a duty but a joy. Practicing Catholics should be happy that their prayers can help end their parents' sufferings in Purgatory and bring them fully into the light of Heaven.

Prayer for a Deceased Mother

For many Catholics, it was their mother who first taught them to pray and helped them understand the nuances of the Catholic Faith. Prayers can help repay her for that gift of faith by asking for the repose of her soul.

Prayer for a Deceased Father

Fathers are often the model of God in Catholics' lives, and many Catholics feel that they owe their fathers a debt they can never fully repay. Catholics can, however, pray for the repose of their father's soul and thus help him through the sufferings of Purgatory and into the fullness of Heaven.

Prayer for Mercy on the Souls in Purgatory

While Catholics know (and the Holy Souls in Purgatory know) that the pains of Purgatory will end and all who are in Purgatory will enter into Heaven, they are still bound by charity to try to lessen the suffering of the Holy Souls through their prayers and deeds. While their first responsibility, of course, is to people they have known, not everyone who ends up in Purgatory has someone to pray for them. Therefore, it is important to remember to pray for the souls who are most forsaken.

Prayer for All the Deceased

This beautiful prayer, drawn from the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, reminds Catholics that Christ's victory over death brings the possibility of eternal rest. They pray for all of those who have gone before them, that they, too, may enter into Heaven.

Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Christ's mercy encompasses all people. He desires the salvation of everyone, and so Catholics approach Him with confidence that He will have mercy on the Holy Souls in Purgatory, who have already proved their love for Him.

De Profundis

The De Profundis takes its name from the first two words of the psalm in Latin. It is a penitential psalm that is sung as part of vespers (evening prayer) and in commemorations of the dead. Every time celebrants recite the De Profundis, they can receive a partial indulgence (the remission of a portion of punishment for sin), which can be applied to the souls in Purgatory.

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Your Citation
Richert, Scott P. "Prayers for November." Learn Religions, Jun. 3, 2021, Richert, Scott P. (2021, June 3). Prayers for November. Retrieved from Richert, Scott P. "Prayers for November." Learn Religions. (accessed March 22, 2023).