I know our thoughts on the election and rightly so. It seems everyone I know is praying, saying novenas and chaplets and going to Adoration. Our homeschool group is doing a novena for the election and my bible study group is doing a Patriotic Rosary and we all signed up for a state to pray for. I have Oregon. Think what you will about blending patriotism into the rosary, it's clear our country can use all the prayers it gets. Father Corapi has been quite vocal in calling for prayers. May God have mercy on us. Our Lady of Victory, intercede for us.
The Poor Souls and the Catechism
As I posted last year, November is also the time to remember the Poor Souls in our prayers. Here's what the Catechism has to say about prayers for the Poor Souls:
956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness.... They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus.... So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."
"Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life." ~St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.
"I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth." ~St. Therese of Lisieux, The Final Conversations
957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself" (Eph 4:1-6):
We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples (Martyrium Polycarpi, 17: Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396)
958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them." Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.
Charity for the Poor Souls - Indulgences
You are also able to receive an indulgence for the Poor Souls. I've been doing this as best I can since my mother passed away over 20 years ago and my father over eight years ago. Plus, I have a huge family that has gone on before with few to remember them. From the Catholic Culture site:
It is during November that the Church meditates on the Communion of Saints, which is the charitable link with the faithful who have already reached heaven (Church Triumphant), the faithful departed who are still expiating their sins in Purgatory (Church Suffering) and of the pilgrim faithful here on earth (Church Militant). "In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1475).
On November 1st the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints, a holyday of obligation (not in our diocese this year), honoring all those faithful in heaven. On November 2, and throughout November, the Church remembers our faithful departed on the Feast of All Souls. The need and duty of prayer for the departed souls has been acknowledged by the Church at all times. It is recommended in the Scriptures of the Old Testament: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."(2 Macch. 12, 46). This duty has found expression not only in public and private prayers but especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of souls.
During November the Church especially prays for all who are in the purifying fires of Purgatory, waiting for the day when they will join the company of the saints in heaven. The celebration of Mass is the highest means the Church can provide for charity for the dead, but we can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, sufferings and penances. We an also help the Poor Souls by doing acts and prayers that have indulgences attached to them. There are many indulgences, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, that can be obtained during the month of November.
An indulgence is "the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned." To obtain this remission there are proper dispositions and certain conditions predetermined by the Church that must be met by the faithful. The remission is acquired through the intervention of the Church, who has the power to loose and bind granted through Jesus Christ. "As minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints" (Enchiridion of Indulgences).
To understand this practice of indulgences, the Catechism explains:
It is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.
The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man." (1472, 1473)
An indulgence can either be partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes only part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.
To be able to gain an indulgence, one must have the intention to gain them, and perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed.
To attain a plenary indulgence, three conditions must accompany the prescribed act:
the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after the pious act is performed,
receive Holy Communion on that day and recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).
All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. If one's disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial.
One must also remember that only one plenary indulgence a day can be acquired.
Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls
A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
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.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:
Requiem aeternam dona ei (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.
Many families add to the "Prayer Before Meals" the second half of the "Eternal Rest" prayer:
Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Other families recite the "Eternal Rest" prayer in between decades of the rosary, or after praying the Angelus.
It is a good devotion to pray for the departed all through the year, not just November. After these Souls in Purgatory are in heaven, they will intercede for us. We should all develop prayerful habits, such as praying the "Eternal Rest" prayer when passing cemeteries, to remind us of our eternal destiny.
For more information on the Church's teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences given by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary.
Also see The Catechism of the Catholic Church section on Indulgences, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, Subsection 10, 1471-1479.
Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great
Another good thing to do for the Poor Souls is say the Prayer of St. Gertrude.
Our Lord dictated the following prayer to St. Gertrude the Great to release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said.
"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."