Prayers for the Holy Souls: An Obligation
MSGR. Charles Mangan
Let it never be said that the expression, "Out of sight, out of mind," describes our attitude towards those who have departed this world marked with faith and charity. These souls, we lovingly refer to as the Faithful Departed.
November sets the special backdrop against which the Church encourages us to pray and make sacrifices for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. However, we must acknowledge that our profound duty to assist them on their journey to Heaven is a daily obligation.
The doctrine of Purgatory is not a source of despair, as some critics have maintained for so long. Rather, it is profoundly consoling. Consider this: we serve a loving God who, out of His own free will, permits His friends, who are not yet fully prepared for Paradise, to undergo a process of purification after death, ultimately granting them entry into the eternal Kingdom of the Lord!
The Almighty was under no compulsion to provide this golden opportunity but he did so because, as we profess in the Act of Contrition, God is "all good and deserving of all my love."
The Holy Souls in Purgatory, as many of us learned in our childhood, receive immense benefit from our prayers, acts of charity, almsgiving, penance and especially from the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which we arrange on their behalf. These men, women, boys and girls passed away as sincere friends of God but they require further purification before they can enter the New Jerusalem.
These Holy Souls are not merely distant entities; they are our brothers and sisters. We bear a sacred responsibility to extend our compassion to them.
Here is a well-known prayer recited at the conclusion of Grace After Meals:
V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let Perpetual Light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
V. May their souls, and the souls of all the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Another prayer, attributed to St. Gertrude the Great, Virgin (1256—circa 1302):
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 our fellow followers of Christ, who endure their purgation in Purgatory, attain the splendors of Heaven through the boundless mercy of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the steadfast intercession of the ever-gracious Mary and St. Joseph, the "just man.