Around 15 years ago, I discovered that we can wield unimaginable power for the souls in purgatory. During the week of All Souls Day, from November 1-8, a soul can be released from purgatory by us on every one of those days. That is no small thing.
I confess to a child-like pleasure imagining a soul, surprised and thrilled to be suddenly bailed out of prison and on the way to heaven. I know my imagination is inadequate to comprehend such a moment, but still, it is a joy to partake in God’s mercy.
All Souls Day commemorates all who have died and are now are in Purgatory, being purified to atone for sins before reaching Heaven—where nothing unclean can enter, (Revelation 21:27). There are two plenary indulgences (meaning get out of purgatory now!) attached to All Souls Day-- one for one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery. The plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained from November 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence during the rest of the year.
Praying for the dead is an obligation that even Catholics often neglect. So, it is a practice we should dedicate our lives to since, 1) They so desperately want to get out of Purgatory and 2) One day it might be us wanting our freedom so do unto others…
The whole month of November has been dedicated by the Church to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. A good one to recite for them is Eternal Rest.
To obtain the plenary indulgence on November 1-8
As with all plenary indulgences, we must receive Communion for each day we plan to gain the indulgence and pray one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the intentions of the Holy Father each day we perform the work of the indulgence. We must also go to Confession some time within the week prior or after. One confession is good for all indulgences earned during that time.
Initially, upon learning of this opportunity to free souls, I delighted in knowing that God gave us this power to help speed souls to him to begin their eternity in heaven. Granting an early release to paradise is no small thing. Imagine if it was you. Imagine that it may eventually be you one day. Such imaginings transformed my simple delight at the favor I could bestow on souls, to the realization that failing to act means failing to passing on the power God has offered us to help his beloved souls in Purgatory. Thus, how can I not do this? It is too big not to do. And too big not to tell others about. More often than not, fellow Catholics don’t know about this devotion.
Instead, there will be more souls reaching heaven sooner thanks to you spreading the word about this devotion. There will be more souls grateful and praying for our intentions too. So if love and joy for others comes easily for you, act on that. If you need a bit of incentive to get to a cemetery, imagine if the trip to the cemetery was for yourself to get to heaven. Then, simply do unto others as you would have them do unto you and one day, they will.