November for Catholics is devoted to the Holy Souls in purgatory, so it’s a good time to refresh our memories on what purgatory is, what it means, and what are some practices that can strengthen our faith.
Among some Catholic circles, purgatory is a subject that is either spoken of in hushed tones or avoided altogether. But renowned “Purgatory Lady” Susan Tassone has been encouraging Catholics for decades to go all in on what the Church teaches about purgatory and devote ourselves to prayers for their relief and release.
Some view purgatory as a “punishment.” It is not. Purgatory is NOT a scary place. God loves us more than anybody else and more than anybody can! It is His Love that cleanses and purifies us to be able to stand before His presence. God is a God of unspeakable purity. Because of our sin and selfishness, we need purification and healing. It is the heavenly beauty of God that ravishes these souls, and they will not go before Him with the least stain. Purgatory is a place of great restoration: a place where our imperfections and faults are purified to reflect the radiant image of God. This is a loving purgatory, a healing purgatory. A beautiful sign of God’s love. It is the masterpiece of His mercy. – Susan Tassone
When we talk about the “communion of saints,” we understand that includes saints and holy people, but it also includes the deceased who are being purified in purgatory. The Mass, then, is a perfect prayer for all the Holy Souls, as our earthly liturgy is joined with the heavenly liturgy. The Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, and joining our sufferings with Christ are also powerful prayers for the Holy Souls.
To help parishioners get past the many misconceptions and misunderstandings about purgatory online and on social media, one approach with your parish families regarding this Church doctrine is just to keep it simple.
Remind them that the month of November is devoted to the Holy Souls, and encourage them from the pulpit and in the bulletin to pray for them. Add a Q&A page on your website about purgatory and the holy souls, and provide a QR code in your bulletin or in the lobby for parishioners and guests to scan to view the information. Encourage feedback and questions to keep the conversation going.
Use your technology to communicate throughout the month with parish families to encourage these devout practices.
Here’s a simple plan you can follow.
Month of the Holy Souls Weekly Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Invite the parish. Using a communication tool like MinistryPlatform, create a parish-wide email inviting parishioners to attend a weekly Divine Mercy Chaplet for the Holy Souls. Offer three ways to participate: Individually, in a virtual group, or in person. Include “how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.”
- For individual participation–include a button in your email for parishioners to subscribe to a weekly email reminder to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the Holy Souls. This email could be sent at 2 pm local time, “Reminder! Pray for the Holy Souls at 3 p.m. today!”
- For group virtual participation–include a button in your email invitation that links to a Zoom meeting (or the like) for parishioners to log into and join a group in the prayer. Schedule reminder emails in your system: 1 day prior and 1 hour prior.
- For group participation in person–in your invitation email, offer the time and place for in-person group prayer. Software is available to help you reserve the room, adjust lighting and environment, and notify facilities management for set-up.
- Follow up with parishioners who signed up to participate. Send an email from the parish priest thanking them for their prayers and encouraging them to continue praying for all the Holy Souls year round.
Here are a few other ideas to emphasize the devotion to the Holy Souls:
- To see what the Church really teaches, point parishioners to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1030-31.
- Visiting the cemetery is a traditional practice during the month of the Holy Souls. Suggest that parish families visit loved one’s graves and say prayers for them and all the Holy Souls.
- Encourage parishioners who don’t know what to pray to learn (or recall) the words of the prayer for the dead: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
- Teach children about purgatory and the Holy Souls! It is another way to encourage them about God’s love and mercy and to encourage prayer. And it helps them form their Catholic conscience. Susan Tassone has a new book on purgatory, New Friends Now and Forever, written especially for children ages 6-10.
About Polly King
Polly King has over 30 years in the marketing and communications field, the last 12 in Catholic publishing. As a convert to the Catholic faith, she has a deep passion for helping parishes engage and evangelize their communities. This led her to join ACS Technologies as part of their mission to serve the Church with technology and solutions that support their ministries. Polly currently resides in Indiana with her husband Bob and their 14-year-old Australian Shepherd, Riley. Her commitment to her faith and dedication to her profession make her an inspiring figure for those looking to make a positive impact in their communities.