NOVEMBER: MONTH OF THE DEPARTED FAITHFUL
“Lay this body anywhere and don’t let the care of it be a trouble for you… only this I ask; that you remember me at the Lord’s altar wherever you are.”
-St. Monica to St. Augustine
Every year, The Church during the month of November commemorates all her children who have departed from this life but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. November is thus a month that is dedicated to the souls in purgatory. This highlights our believe in the communion of saints (which expresses the link between the Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering and the Church Militant) as well as our believe in the doctrine of purgatory.
Consequently, the Church has taught for centuries that our prayers are of assistance to those who have died. We are obliged to commend their souls to God’s mercy and to pray for them. In addition CCC 1032 reminds us that we also help them by offering Mass in their name, by giving alms, by indulgences or other works of penance done for their benefit.
This practice affirms our believe that purgatory is an expression of God’s love and His desire to cleanse our souls of all that might keep us from expressing the fullness of joy in heaven (cf Rev. 21:27)
Let me clearly states purgatory is not a trial; for all who make it to purgatory will eventually make it to heaven.
What then is Purgatory?
It is a place for those who have died in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, and are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after having undergo purification , so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (cf CCC 1030). The Church calls this place purgatory and is different from the punishment of the damned. (cf CCC 1031).
The Church therefore recognizes the need and duty of prayer for the departed souls. Tertullian (d. 230) mentions that praying for the dead is not a concession to sentiment but as a duty.
In the words of St. Padre Pio, the Holy souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful which can gain indulgence for them. This intercession is prayerful, therefore pray unceasingly so as to empty purgatory.
Unfortunately, most Catholics today seem not to be enthusiastic about this age long practice of praying for the dead. It is therefore important that we remind ourselves of this practice and to rekindle our zeal and live for it. This practice also maintains our connection in friendship with the dead, for by praying for them we also affirm that the death does not end our friendship with the departed but only change it.
Attached to this prayer is the gaining of indulgence.
What is indulgence?
Indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of satisfactions of Christ and the saints (cf CCC 1471).
An indulgence is partial when it removes part or plenary when it removes all the punishment due to sin . The faithful can gain indulgence for themselves or either apply them for the dead.
We are also reminded that every sin has a double consequence – while grave sin deprive us of communion with God; venial sin entails an unhealthy attachment which must be purified either on earth or in purgatory.
The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entails the removal of the eternal punishment of sin but temporal punishment of sin remains.
We can help the faithful departed who are now being purified by gaining indulgences for them, so that that the temporal punishment due to their sins may be remitted.
In order to gain partial indulgence:
Have the intention to gain them
Perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed
For plenary indulgence:
***The faithful must receive the sacrament of confession several days before or after the pious act is performed
***Receive Holy Communion on that day
***Pray for the intention of the Holy Father
***Be in a state of grace
During the month of November, to gain a partial indulgence, visit the cemetery and pray for the dead; while to gain a plenary indulgence you are to visit the cemetery between the 1st and 8th of November every year.
This November, let us resolve to remember the Holy Souls in purgatory by offering prayers for them as a sign of our love. Let us not forget that these prayers are extremely powerful in assisting the souls of our loved ones on their journey to heaven.
And finally, remember 2 Maccabees 12:46 “it is therefore holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead”, that they may be loosed from sins. For it is these prayers that will win for them God’s mercy, forgiveness and a welcome to paradise. And the
importance of these prayers is also emphasized by St. Paul in 2 Timothy 1:16-18 when he prayed for Onesiphorus.