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Remembering the Poor Souls and the End

By Jennifer Gregory Miller (bio - articles - email) | Nov 01, 2017

I’m a day behind on my annual reminder for the Poor Souls. November is the month dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Although we can and should pray throughout the year for the Poor Souls, the Church provides wonderful opportunities to earn indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory particularly during the first week of November:

  1. To Visit a Cemetery: One can gain a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8 (also known as the Poor Souls’ Octave) and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
  2. To Visit a Church or Oratory on November 2: A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

The usual plenary indulgence conditions apply: receiving Communion, going to Confession and prayers for the Holy Father while detached from sin. For more details, please see Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November.

Continuing Through November

My sons and I attended Mass and went to the nearby cemetery to start the Octave today. But praying for the Poor Souls doesn’t end on November 8. The whole month is dedicated to the Poor Souls. I’ve mentioned before some of the ways we have tried to keep our prayers and thoughts for these souls. We are repeating some, and adding some new aspects.

Americans, especially adults, avoid death. But children, even though they can feel sad, aren’t afraid to delve into these discussions. The elementary children (ages 6-12) especially want to help others; they are compassionate. Their daily prayer intentions are for the Poor Souls, the sick, the dying, and those they know who died.

Our atrium children plans on setting up a November display this week, “In Memory of our Beloved Departed.” They are inviting all the children to bring in a photo or other object of departed family members or friends they want to pray for during November. The children decided to do something, similar to “Advent Angels” or “Christkindls”: everyone will write names of the beloved departed on strips of paper to put into a basket. The students will draw names to pray for that person or persons for the month.

Even outside of the Octave, we plan on visiting local cemeteries throughout the month and pray for the Poor Souls.

Other Endings

November is the time of year with more reminders of “dying” or ending. The Liturgical Year is ending soon; the last Sunday of the Church year (Christ the King) is November 26. The liturgy of the last weeks of Ordinary Time focus on the Four Last Things: death, heaven, hell, and final judgment. The Church wants us to think of our ending.

Our cemetery visits are walks in nature, viewing the autumn season with falling leaves and the “dying” or hibernation for winter, the ending of the growing season.

Within the atrium the older children have been reading Genesis and discussing Creation and the Fall, how man was created from dust and will return to dust.

Our prayers and actions during November for the Poor Souls are opportunities for the child (and adults) to make internal connections, and deeper connections with the members of the Communion of Saints.

Eternal Rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

For Further Reading:

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, home schooler, and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org's liturgical year section. See full bio.

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