4 Ways the Catholic Church Prays for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Written by on November 14, 2022

Each month the Catholic Church focuses on a particular devotion and November is for the Holy Souls. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states they are the faithful who died in God’s friendship and grace but are “still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven” (CCC 1030-1031).

After the particular judgment the Holy Souls can no longer pray for themselves and rely on the prayers of those on earth to assist them in purgatory. Here are four ways the Catholic Church prays for the Holy Souls in purgatory:


1. The Catholic Church Offers Masses for Departed Souls


“From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic Sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God” (CCC 1032).

During the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass, the souls of the faithful departed are remembered. Not only do we pray for loved ones and other Catholics, but everyone else in the world who has passed from this life. Since other Christians have rejected the doctrine of purgatory this is important. To aid the Holy Souls, request a Mass for a particular loved one at your parish office, or from a Catholic religious order or mission.

In particular, Gregorian Masses are a custom going back to St. Gregory the Great in the 6th century in which a series of  Masses are offered on 30 consecutive days as soon as possible after a person’s death.

Also consider offering Masses for Holy Souls who have no one to pray for them as an act of charity. Saints Padre Pio and Faustina were, by the grace and mercy of God, visited by souls asking for a Mass offering to be freed from purgatory. The requests to these modern era saints demonstrates how powerful this pious practice is to assist the Holy Souls.


2. The Catholic Church Prays a Special Holy Souls Rosary


The rosary is the most powerful prayer in the Church, after the Mass. There are two ways to pray the rosary to help the Holy Souls. First, after praying it in the usual manner followed by the Hail Holy Queen, you can add this traditional prayer:

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them

with your Saints forever more, because You are gracious.

May the divine assistance remain always with us. And may the souls of the

faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

The Holy Souls Rosary is a second way to pray. Formats are online but most helpful may be a book by Susan Tassone, The Rosary for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Susan is a repeat guest on EWTN’s Women of Grace and EWTN Live programs. With the goal of praying the Holy Souls out of purgatory, she has written several best selling books to teach others how to join her in this charitable act. Her books and interviews are available at EWTN’s Religious Catalogue.


3. The Catholic Church’s Prayer of St. Gertrude Helps Holy Souls


If you want to help the Holy Souls but are short on time, recite the Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great. A 13th century German nun, mystic, and writer, St. Gertrude was, according to tradition, told by Jesus that every time she piously recited this prayer, 1000 souls would be released from purgatory. She recounted a vision in which Jesus showed her a vast number of souls entering heaven resulting from her faithful recitation of the following:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus,

in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls

in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in

my own home and within my family. Amen.

This prayer is not officially indulgenced and the Vatican does not endorse a particular number of souls (1000) being released. However, this lovely offering prayed on their behalf must certainly please Our Lord. It can be easily memorized and in reciting it we trust in God’s mercy.


4. The Tradition of Short Prayers in the Catholic Church Helps Holy Souls


There are ways to tuck the Holy Souls into your days. In your own difficult moments recall the adage to “offer things up” to aid the Holy Souls. Or as you drive to appointments, be mindful when passing a cemetery and recite the Eternal Rest prayer.

The tradition of the Church is also rich with ejaculatory (short) prayers, like “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” and “Jesus! Mary! Save souls!” Use those examples to utter your own short prayers throughout the day, spontaneously praying for your loved ones and new friends you will meet in heaven. Pray for them, and ask them to pray for you. May you enjoy a new friendship with the Holy Souls!

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