How to Intercede for Poor Souls
In the Catholic Church the month of November is dedicated to remembering the poor souls in purgatory. Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live forever with Christ as they are gently assured of entrance into everlasting life.
However, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (1030).
For this reason, the Church has honored the memory of the dead by prayers of intercession for them. The Holy Mass is considered the most efficacious means to help the souls languishing in purgatory. Holy Mass is the highest act of worship and the highest form of prayer. Saint Thomas Aquinas said, "As dew refreshes and raises up the withering plants and flowers, so does the Blood of Christ revive, comfort and bring renewed hope to the Poor Souls in Purgatory."
Saint Anselm said that those Masses in which we participate or have offered during our life are more profitable than those offered for us after death.
The Holy Rosary is also considered a powerful method of interceding for poor souls. The Rosary not only brings release and relief for the suffering souls, but the indulgences attached to these prayers also bring tremendous merit for all of us.
The Venerable Servant of God, Fr. Stanislaus Papczynski — the founder of my religious community, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception — encouraged us Marians to pray for the soldiers who died in battle. He likewise said: "To beg God earnestly for the release of Souls who find themselves in expiatory flames or to come to their help by pious alms as well as by various other means, is to exercise the highest charity."
Many souls appeared to St. Faustina, the "Apostle of Divine Mercy," and begged her for assistance. They asked for prayers and Masses to be said for them in order to alleviate their circumstances (see Diary of St. Faustina, 21).
Praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, which Our Lord encouraged St. Faustina to say, is also of tremendous help to these souls. Our Lord even went so far as to say to her: "My daughter, encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the Chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace and the hour of their death will be a happy one" (Diary, 1541).
Another nun, by the name of Venerable Mary of Antiqua, was told by Our Lord: "The devotion of the Stations of the Cross is so profitable to the souls in purgatory â€¦ they will be praying for you and defending your cause before My justice." Anyone can easily pray the Rosary and the Chaplet at home and meditate on the passion and the Stations of the Cross if unable to attend Mass.
A holy hour, whether in our own homes, or preferably before the tabernacle in church, is another most-assured means of assisting poor souls in alleviating their anguish. In union with Our Lord before the Blessed Sacrament, the supreme mediator, we, as adorers, share in the office of mediator on behalf of all mankind by our prayers of intercession. We implore God's Mercy upon the entire world, our families, friends, co-workers, and those seeking to bring peace throughout war-torn countries. In addition, almsgiving, indulgences and works of penance such as patience in adversity, all offered up for poor souls, are very beneficial. These, in fact, become part of a ministry for poor souls that everyone can fulfill.
Some families still feel a need to forgive those who have died. This is especially true of those who, in desperation, have taken their own lives. Perhaps some feel abandoned by the deceased and need prayers in order to release them to God. There are others who have been harmed by the deceased, and Our Lord requires that they be forgiven so that they may rest in peace.
We have a custom in our Marian community to pray for all the faithful departed. As a result, you are free to submit the names of your family members and friends, and we will remember them in prayer - especially during November. Please e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org the names of your faithful departed and I will place your intentions on our altar. If you prefer having a Mass celebrated, please call us toll-free at 1-800-462-7426.
By praying and making sacrifices for the Holy Souls, we have the privilege to shorten their stay in purgatory and hasten their union with our Merciful Savior.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars. Brother Leonard has a leaflet available that has a series of meditations on the five wounds of our Lord. The meditations are intended for use while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order Contemplate My Wounds. He also has a CD available with the meditations on the five wounds, interspered with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order A Musical Interlude.