Some people love Christmas best, others find great happiness in Easter, but my favorite Religous Day is All Souls Day and my favorite time of the year is the Octave of All Saint’s day. Far too many people forget All Souls Day because they are taken with the celebration of Halloween, or ‘All Hallowed Eve’, which is the day before All Saint’s Day.
Our beloved Church is divided into three groups of people: the Church Militant includes those of us on earth, the Church Suffering are those in purgatory, and the Church Triumphant consists of those souls who are enjoying eternal bliss with God and the angels in Heaven. All Soul’s Day is November 2nd, the octave of All Soul’s Day is November 1-8. We, the church militant, have an obligation to our brothers and sisters suffering in purgatory. Our deceased relatives distant and close may yet be suffering in the torments of Purgatory, what faithful Catholic does not feel pity for those souls and want to have a hand in their release? We have the unique opportunity to directly obtain the release of these souls during the Octave of All Saint’s Day.
I have always been the kind of person who cheers for the underdog. When two teams are playing, I root for the losing team. My heart aches when I see a child who is bullied and if I were to choose one particular cute little puppy or a kitten out of a litter, it would probably be the runt. Therefore, it is not a stretch to understand my sympathy for the poor souls in purgatory, many of whom have no one to pray for their release and have long ago been released from the confines of their physical body. The sufferings and torment of these souls is touchingly described in the book “Purgatory, explained by the lives and legends of the saints” written by Fr. F.X. Schouppe. I encourage everyone to read this book and not just to themselves, but to their families as the message of the poor souls is one that should be shared with as many as possible.
Many of us think that we are lucky if we go to Purgatory after we die, but the pains of those temporarily condemned to Purgatory are painful beyond belief and not one of us should want to spend so much as one second there. A moment in Purgatory seems to the souls suffering, as a week; an hour seems a year and a year feels as though a lifetime has passed by. Allow me to quote from “Purgatory:
‘Speaking in general, the Doctors (of the Church) agree in saying that the pains are most excruciating. The same fire, says St. Gregory, torments the damned and purifies the elect.’ Pg 33
We, of the church militant may feel at a loss to help those around us. Our most valiant efforts to save the soul of a loved one may be met with scorn and contempt. Our tears and pleadings may fall on deaf ears and our only recourse for these souls treading Satan’s path may be continued prayer and sacrifices.
Our prayers and offerings for the Poor Souls, on the other hand, are met with gratitude beyond imagination. The ability to release a soul from the agony of Purgatory is a gift beyond measure and one which the receiving soul will repay a thousand fold in prayers for the one who obtained his/her release. Can you imagine the joy of a suffering soul as he/she is released from the pains of Purgatory and radiant in the robes of sanctity immediately flies to the Heaven to enjoy the eternal company of Our Lord and Savior? Our feeble understanding of the majesty of God struggles to understand this unutterable joy. WE have the ability bring a Poor Soul to perpetual bliss all year through our prayers, offerings and sacrifices, but during the Octave of All Saints we are able to give the gift of release so easily!
How so, inquires the faithful Catholic? Well, I’d love to share that with you! These are the conditions in which a person may obtain the release of a soul each and every day from November 1st-8th.
[N.B. The grants of indulgence are contained in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (4th ed., 1999), in special grants of the Holy See, such as for the Year of the Holy Eucharist, and in special grants which bishops may establish for their dioceses.
To gain indulgences, whether plenary or parital it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
N.B. Thus, one must be a Catholic in communion with the Pope, i.e. not excommunicated or in schism.
A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
—have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
—have sacramentally confessed their sins;
—receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
—pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff- Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be while visiting a cemetery.
This indulgence, when obtained for a poor soul each day, is a Plenary indulgence, meaning all of the temporal punishment that the individual poor soul owes for the sins committed, is forgiven. ALL OF IT! In other words, upon successful completion of all requirements for the Plenary Indulgence, a soul is immediately released from Purgatory. I have known the power of Plenary indulgences since I was a child and yet I am still in awe of their power. Each year, my family (all of the children included) go to communion and confession and we visit a cemetery (when possible) every day. The kids are under this foolish notion that cemeteries are scary. I don’t comprehend this, ever since I was a child I found a sense of peace in cemeteries, more so now when I am an adult. I hope that one day, they will sense the tranquility of a cemetery too.
I do not know if requesting a certain soul be released is effective, but when I pray for a suffering soul I usually pray for the most forgotten, a soul who has committed sins like those I have committed, the ones who are the furthest from release and for family members. Knowing that I have been able to obtain the release of a poor soul makes my own soul sing with joy.