All Souls Octave and November’s Dedication to the Holy Souls

By Jennifer Gregory Miller (bio - articles - email) | Nov 01, 2018

I’m late for my annual reminder to pray for the souls in Purgatory in November. Today begins the unofficial “All Souls Octave” that begins November 1 and ends on November 8. Each day of the “octave” one can earn a plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory. Since it’s a holy day of obligation, you have already received Jesus in Communion, so the more difficult part of earning the indulgence are already checked off. A visit to the cemetery to pray for the dead can earn a plenary indulgence or “get out of jail free” card for a Poor Soul starting today!

I love this time of year, not because of the fall season or pumpkin spice lattes (which I actually don’t like), but because there is a special closeness to all our brothers and sisters of the Mystical Body of Christ. In our daily lives we sometimes forget the people who are no longer with us on earth. But they are still closely connected with us. Jesus used images of His Body and also the Vine and Branches to remind us how we remain with Him always, whether we are the Church Militant on earth, working to reach heaven, the Church Suffering waiting to go to heaven after being purged in Purgatory or the Church Triumphant who are enjoying the beatific vision of God in heaven. The Church dedicates the month of November to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. This is a month we are especially reminded to pray for the dead—family, friends, acquaintances, enemies, leaders, stars, etc. And this reminds us of their presence and their connection with us.

The Solemnity of All Saints on November 1 unites and reminds us of all those who are in heaven, canonized or not, known or unknown. These souls have fought the good fight and won the race and are now wearing the crown of righteousness (cf. 2 Tim 4:7-8).

November 2 is the Commemoration of All Souls, and we pray for all the faithful departed. And the rest of the November we keep on praying for these souls.

That isn’t to say we don’t or shouldn’t pray for the departed the rest of the year, but it is especially this time of year when even the weather reminds us of our connectedness in the Body of Christ.

The opportunities presented to Catholics especially during November:

  1. To Visit a Cemetery: One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8 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 on that day, going to Confession within 20 days, and praying for the Holy Father while detached from sin. For more details, please see Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November.

See my previous November Posts:

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist 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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