November is a month which helps us remember those who have died.
On November 11, we remember those who have fallen in battle in the name of liberty and their families . . . Remembrance Day , Veterans’ Day.
It can be difficult for us to put our finger on it exactly, but there just seems to be something about that month of November. Autumn is drawing to its close ; bright leaves fade, wither and fall from the trees ,the ground becomes cold, frozen , and we sometimes feel a twinge as the wind begins to bite a little bit . In this part of the hemisphere even nature, it would seem, is in concert with the November remembrance of those who have gone before us ; much as a fond bright memory of a departed loved one can have us smiling on the outside and sad on the inside all at the same time , making us twinge out in the cold , at a loss which faith alone holds the answer to.
Although the Church always begins this month of November (November 1st) with the feast of All Saints Day, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed follows directly on November 2nd. The entire month of November itself is one which the Church dedicates in special remembrance of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
The intention of Holy Mother Church in this regard , echoes the desire of the Most Merciful Heart of Jesus to free these souls who yearn for His eternal Embrace. And , as we read in the section of excerpts from The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska previously, Our Blessed Lord reminds us that , it is in our power to free the souls in Purgatory.
“It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury (64) of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.”
Even before the Church’s thinking on the doctrine of Purgatory was developed – actually , even before the Incarnation, the Psalms were already interwoven with sentiments that reflect the love of God as might well be expressed through a soul in Purgatory . If the holy souls could put their yearning for God into words, it would surely resemble some of the Psalms:
“ O God, you are my God, for you I long. For you my body pines, like a dry, weary land without water.”
Psalm 84 :
“My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My being thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and see the face of God?”
The De Profundis so expresses the poignant cry of a soul in Purgatory ,that the Church has chosen it to be prayed in the Office For The Dead section of the breviary:
Psalm 130 :
“Out of the depths I cry unto you ! Lord, hear my voice !
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications !
If you O Lord should mark our guilt ,Lord who would survive ?
But with you is found forgiveness,
For this, we revere you.
My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on His word.
My soul is longing for the Lord, more than the watchman for daybreak . . . ”
That passage mentioned previously from Psalm 42 is also rendered thus: “ My soul is thirsting for the living God. When shall I see Him face to face?”
When, indeed. Did it ever dawn on us that it can actually be we who have the answer as to when a soul might see God face to face ? A plenary indulgence gained for the holy souls is a direct/definitive answer from God in union with us as to when. A partial indulgence gained can also be our definitive answer as to when, for a soul who has already undergone some, but not all ,of the purification he/she required in Purgatory. “It is in your power to bring them relief. . .”
The Church in Her love for us, grants us special times and circumstances favourable to the gaining of indulgences. November has a particular period for indulgences applicable only to the holy souls in Purgatory. From my hard cover version - THE HANDBOOK OF INDULGENCES, Norms and Grants; Cathoic Book Publishing Company © 1991, # 13 ( pg 47) :
Visiting a cemetery
An indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in Purgatory. This indulgence is a plenary one from November 1 through November 8 and can be gained each one of these days. On other days of the year this indulgence is a partial one.
St. Hedwig’s Church website offers a good clear explanation of indulgences and conditions all on one page for anyone interested in learning more
Sooner or later , it is hoped we might ask ourselves the question:
Do I have the time to visit a cemetery, particularly between now and November 8 with the intention of freeing a soul from Purgatory ?
Our Blessed Lord would love it if we could. Below are several quotes from the saints which might encourage/motivate us in this regard. By helping the holy souls, we also gain new intercessors. Who can’t use one more of those , in this roller coaster ride we call life ?
1302 St. Gertrude Virgin Nov 16 Patroness of the West Indies
Our Lord wishes people to pray for the souls in purgatory. He once showed Gertrude a table of gold on which were many costly pearls. The pearls were prayers for the holy souls. At the same time the saint had a vision of souls freed from suffering and ascending in the form of bright sparks to heaven.
In one favorite passage, Our Lord tells Gertrude that he longs for someone to ask Him to release souls from purgatory, just as a king who imprisons a friend for justice's sake hopes that someone will beg for mercy for his friend. Jesus ends with: “I accept with highest pleasure what is offered to Me for the poor souls, for I long inexpressibly to have near Me those for whom I paid so great a price. By the prayers of thy loving soul, I am induced to free a prisoner from purgatory as often as thou dost move thy tongue to utter a word of prayer.”
There is a version of the main Grants section of the Handbook of Indulgences which can be read online for free at the following link:
From Purgatory to Paradise
In the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo one evening the friars heard music and a choir singing. Nobody that they knew could be performing at that time of the day. They went to Padre Pio, who was absorbed in prayer, and asked him about it. “So, what? Why are you marveling? Those are the voices of the angel taking the souls from Purgatory to Paradise!”
Thanks from the souls
A friar testified: “We were all in the dining room when Padre Pio got suddenly up and walked at steady pace to the door of the convent. He opened it and started having a conversation. The two friars that went with him didn't see anybody and started thinking that something might be wrong with Padre Pio. On the way back to the dining area Padre Pio explained. "Don't worry. I was talking to some souls on their way from Purgatory to Paradise. They came to thank me that I remembered them today in the Mass."