The Church teaches that the Holy Souls cannot help themselves, but that we can gain indulgences, have Masses said, offer our sacrifices, prayers, works of mercy and almsgiving for their release from Purgatory. We can, and indeed should, help the Holy Souls at all times, but All Souls Day and the whole of the month of November are especially dedicated to them.
Although the Holy Souls cannot pray for themselves, they can intercede most powerfully for us.
Saint John Vianney wrote: “If we knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.”
Thanks to Father Z, here’s how you can draw from the treasury of the Church to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory on All Souls Day:
From the Handbook of Indulgences
Visiting a Church or an Oratory on All Souls Day
A plenary (“full”) indulgence, which is applicable only to the souls in Purgatory is granted to the Christian faithful who devoutly visit a church or an oratory on (November 2nd,) All Souls Day.
Will you not, for love, try to gain these indulgences? Make a plan.
Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on All Souls Day (2 Nov)
- Visit a church and pray for souls in Purgatory
- Say one “Our Father” and the “Apostles Creed” in the visit to the church
- Say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the Holy Father’s intentions (that is, the intentions designated by the Holy Father each month)
- Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day if you can get to Mass)
- Make a sacramental confession within 20 days of All Souls Day
- For a plenary indulgence be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (otherwise, the indulgence is partial, not plenary, “full”).
You can acquire one plenary indulgence a day.
A partial indulgence can be obtained by visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed. You can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between 1 November and 8 November. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
A plenary indulgence, applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when you visit a church or a public oratory on 2 November. While visiting the church or oratory say one Our Father and the Apostles Creed.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when saying the “Eternal rest … Requiem aeternam…” prayer.
Do you know this prayer?
Requiem aeternam dona ei [pl.eis], Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei [eis]. Requiescat [-ant] in pace Amen. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
It is customary to add the second half of the “Eternal Rest” prayer after the prayer recited at the conclusion of a meal.
Gratias agimus tibi, omnipotens Deus, pro universis beneficiis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.
Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.
We give Thee thanks, almighty God, for all Thy benefits, Who livest and reignest, world without end.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Go here to read the whole of Father’s instructive post.