November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory
Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. As a reminder of our duty to pray for the suffering faithful in Purgatory, the Church has dedicated the month of November to the Holy Souls. The Holy Souls are those who have died in the state of grace but who are not yet free from all punishment due to their unforgiven venial sins and all other sins already forgiven for which satisfaction is still to be made. They are certain of entering Heaven, but first they must suffer in Purgatory. The Holy Souls cannot help themselves because for them the night has come, when no man can work (John 9:4). It is our great privilege of brotherhood that we can shorten their time of separation from God by our prayers, good works, and, especially, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
INVOCATION Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the dire torments they endure; call them and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Our Father, Hail Mary, Eternal rest, etc.
FOR ALL THE DECEASED By Thy resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer hath dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech Thee, give rest to Thy servants in Thy sanctuary and in Abraham’s bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored Thee with purity, to our fathers and brothers, to our kinsmen and friends, to all men who have lived by faith and passed on their road to Thee, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom. Byzantine Liturgy
DE PROFUNDIS The psalmist is crying out here from the depression that grips him because of his sense of sin. He tells God that no man could be forgiven should strict justice be demanded; but, since God is forgiving and merciful, the psalmist (Israel) will hope for redemption from iniquities. We, who know the mercy of God far better than the g Israelites, may pray this psalm with even greater trust in God. The Church uses this psalm in the liturgy as her official prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my, voice! Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication: If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered. I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word. My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord, For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption; And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities. Psalm 130
THE MISERERE This psalm is a marvelous act of contrition, confession, and supplication by a repentant sinner. It was composed by David after his sin with Bethsabee. In reparation David promises to lead others back to God by telling them of the ways of divine justice. Instead of offering God an external sacrifice which he knows He will not accept, he offers instead the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, a sacrifice that will always be most pleasing in the eyes of God. Have mercy on me, 0 God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: “Against You only have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight”– That You may be justified in Your sentence, vindicated when You condemn. Indeed, in guilt was I born, and in sin my mother conceived me; Behold, You are pleased with sincerity of heart, and in my inmost being You teach me wisdom. Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, that I may be purified; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness; the bones You have crushed shall rejoice. Turn away Your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt. A clean heart create for me, 0 God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from Your presence, and Your holy spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of Your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall return to You. Free me from blood guilt, 0 God, my saving God; then my tongue shall revel in Your justice. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Your praise. For You are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a holocaust, You would not accept it. My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, 0 God, You will not spurn. Be bountiful, O Lord, to Sion in Your kindness by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem; Then shall You be pleased with due sacrifices, burnt offerings and holocausts; then shall they offer up bullocks on Your altar. Psalm 50
FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY O Lord, who art ever merciful and bounteous with Thy gifts, look down upon the suffering souls in purgatory. Remember not their offenses and negligences, but be mindful of Thy loving mercy, which is from all eternity. Cleanse them of their sins and fulfill their ardent desires that they may be made worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory. May they soon be united with Thee and hear those blessed words which will call them to their heavenly home: “Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O’Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954