November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls. Like the other monthly devotions, this one helps refresh and reinvigorate us in a devotion important to our spiritual lives. This devotion particularly strikes at the heart of Christian virtue - charity.
Praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory exercises charity in two ways. If we remember that charity is to love of God above all things for His own sake and to love our neighbor as ourselves for God's sake, we can see how this devotion is two-fold. By praying for the Holy Souls, we are trying to help them reach the eternal bliss of the Beatific Vision. This is both God's desire, for He desires all men to be saved, and the best possible thing we could want for another person. If I truly loved another person, truly was charitable towards them, I would will the best for them. What is better that eternal union with Love Himself?
While we can pray for the Holy Souls all year long - and we ought to! - there are special practices and indulgences for the month of November. One can gain a plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory by visiting a cemetery to pray for the dead. One can also obtain a plenary indulgence for the Holy Souls under the usual conditions by visiting a church or oratory on All Souls Day, the 2nd of November. Additionally, praying the "Eternal rest..." prayer can gain a partial indulgence. The greatest things one can do for the Holy Souls is to have Holy Mass said for the faithful departed, and to hear Mass for this intention when one cannot be said for it.
The Sisters have the practice of praying for dead daily and having Masses said for the dead in our chapel throughout the year. During November itself, we will have a High Mass for All Souls Day in our chapel, special daily prayers for the dead, additional Masses said throughout the month, and will visit local cemeteries to pray for the dead. What a blessing it is to be reminded of the importance of praying for the souls in Purgatory and how connected we truly are to the whole Church - Militant, Triumphant, and Suffering.
"Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: