How to help the souls of deceased loved ones?

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Masses, pilgrimages, indulgences… here are six concrete acts to ask God to free the souls of our dearly departed.

Since the beginnings of Christianity, the Church has always encouraged different forms of intercessory prayer for deceased loved ones. These prayers are very useful in relieving and shortening their sorrows when they are in Purgatory. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy ( Vatican , 2001) states: “Among these prayers, first comes the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, then other expressions of piety, such as prayers, almsgiving, works of mercy , indulgences in favor of the souls of the deceased. [n°251]”. Here are some ideas to help the souls of people who have left us.


The month of November is traditionally considered the month of the deceased. The Church has also established a feast for them on November 2, where it invites us to pray, to visit the cemeteries and to adorn the tombs with flowers and lights. Among the best-known prayers, the Church suggests praying for example the De profundis (psalm 129) or the abbreviated formula of the Requiem aeternam (“Eternal rest”), but any prayer said with the heart is obviously heard by our Heavenly Father. 


Nothing is more powerful than the Holy Mass to free souls from Purgatory. On November 2, the Church celebrates Holy Mass in a special way for them. But it is of course possible to have masses said for our deceased loved ones at any time of the year or to request a thirty, that is to say a series of 30 consecutive masses. Also called the Gregorian Mass , it is a practice that dates back to the Middle Ages, approved by a divine revelation received by Saint Gregory the Great (6th century). 


To pray for the souls in Purgatory, you can also make a pilgrimage to any sanctuary in France or around the world. For example, there is, 150 km from Paris, the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Montligeon (Orne) — entrusted to the priests of the Saint-Martin community — which is considered the world center of prayer for the deceased. Every year, thousands of pilgrims come to entrust themselves to Our Lady Liberator in order to intercede for the souls of deceased loved ones and find the consolation of Heaven. 


Recommended emphatically in the Bible, almsgiving has always been of great importance in the Christian tradition. Through almsgiving, we help others materially and we also attract God’s mercy to us. But as many saints said, such as Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great and the Saint Curé of Ars, alms also help the souls in Purgatory. Indeed, if we practice almsgiving while carrying this desire in our heart, we can contribute to hastening their entry into Heaven, by virtue of the communion of saints.


Every prayer, sacrifice, act of mercy performed in secret, is a perfume pleasing to God: “  la bonus odor Christi ”. The Church indicates to us 7 corporal works of mercy and 7 spiritual works to help others by advising them, consoling them, forgiving their offenses… These concrete actions also have a spiritual scope and, through the communion of saints, they, benefit the entire Church: “since all believers form one body, the good of some is communicated to others” (CCC no. 947). These acts can therefore also have value for the souls in Purgatory, when we formulate this intention in our heart, as we would for a simple prayer, a fast or a mass.


Did you know that from November 1 to 8 you can obtain, every day, a plenary indulgence for the souls of the deceased? A gift from Heaven that it is possible to receive under the usual conditions and by carrying out these simple acts: on November 2, one is asked to visit a church and pray the Our Father and the Creed, and from November 1 to 8, to visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased. Asking for a plenary indulgence for the soul of a loved one is an extraordinary act of charity. So why not take advantage of this immense grace during the All Saints’ Day holidays?

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