November: Month of the Souls in Purgatory

11-01-2017Monthly Reflection

Prayer of the Month

Prayer for the Dying

O most merciful Jesus, Lover of souls, I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Thine Own Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and who are to die this day. Amen.

God, Lord of mercies, grant to the souls of Your servants and handmaids, the place of refreshment, the bliss of eternal rest and the splendor of Your light. 

  • November 2
  • Out of the depths I cry
  • to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!

The month of November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory, whose feast is celebrated on November 2. The entire month of November falls during the liturgical season known as Ordinary Time and is represented by the liturgical color green.

The Holy Father's Intentions for the Month of November 2017

Christians in Asia: That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions. (See also www.popesprayerusa.net/)

Feasts for November

The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of November are:
1. All SaintsSolemnity
2. All SoulsFeast
3. Martin de PorresOpt. Mem.
4. Charles BorromeoMemorial
5. Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary TimeSunday
9. Lateran BasilicaFeast
10. Leo the GreatMemorial
11. Martin of Tours; Veterans Day (USA)Memorial
12. Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary TimeSunday
13. Frances Xavier CabriniMemorial
15. Albert the GreatOpt. Mem.
16. Margaret of Scotland; GertrudeOpt. Mem.
17. Elizabeth of HungaryMemorial
18. Churches of Peter and Paul; Rose Philippine Duchesne (USA),Opt. Mem.
19. Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary TimeSunday
21. Presentation of MaryMemorial
22. CeciliaMemorial
23. Clement I; Columban; Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro (USA); Thanksgiving DayOpt. Mem.
24. Andrew Dung-Lac and CompanionsMemorial
25. Catherine of AlexandriaOpt. Mem.
26. Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe Solemnity
30. AndrewFeast

Focus of the Liturgy

The Gospel readings for the Sundays in November 2017, are taken from St. Matthew and are from Year A, Cycle 1.

  • November 5 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jesus says that "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled."
  • November 12 - 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - This Gospel relates the parable of the wise and foolish virgins.
  • November 19 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - This Gospel recounts the parable of the talents.
  • November 26 - Solemnity of Christ the King - Jesus says "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Highlights of the Month

During November, as in all of Ordinary Time (Time After Pentecost), the Liturgy signifies and expresses the regenerated life from the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is to be spent on the model of Christ's Life and under the direction of His Spirit. As we come to the end of the Church year we are asked to consider the end times, our own as well as the world's. The culmination of the liturgical year is the Feast of Christ the King. "This feast asserts the supreme authority of Christ over human beings and their institutions.... Beyond it we see Advent dawning with its perspecitive of the Lord's coming in glory."— The Liturgy and Time, A.G. Mortimort
This month the main feasts are the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1), All Souls (November 2), St. Martin de Porres (November 3), St. Charles Borromeo, (November 4), Lateran Basilica (November 9), St. Leo the Great (November 10), St. Martin of Tours, (November 11),St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (November 13), St. Albert the Great (November 15), Sts. Margaret of Scotland and Gertrude (November 16), St. Elizabeth of Hungary (November 17), Presentation of Mary (November 21), St. Cecilia (November 22), Sts. Clement I and St. Columban(November 23), St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions (November 24),St. Catherine of Alexandria (November 25), the Solemnity of Christ the King (November 26) and St. Andrew (November 30).
The feast of St. Josaphat (November 12) is superseded by the Sunday Liturgy.
Thanksgiving

The national holiday (USA) of Thanksgiving also falls on the last Thursday of November. There is a special liturgy which may be used on this day. (Read more here.)

The tradition of eating goose as part of the Martin's Day celebration was kept in Holland even after the Reformation. It was there that the Pilgrims who sailed to the New World in 1620 became familiar with this ancient harvest festival. When, after one year in America, they decided to celebrate a three days' thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621, they went in search of geese for their feast. We know that they also had deer (a present from the Indians), lobsters, oysters, and fish. But Edward Winslow, in his account of the feast, only mentions that "Governor Bradford sent four men on fowling that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labours." They actually did find some wild geese, and a number of wild turkeys and ducks as well.

The Pilgrim Fathers, therefore, in serving wild turkeys with the geese, inaugurated one of the most cherished American traditions: the turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. They also drank, according to the ancient European tradition, the first wine of their wild-grape harvest. Pumpkin pie and cranberries were not part of the first Thanksgiving dinner in America, but were introduced many years afterward.

The second Thanksgiving Day in the New World was held by the Pilgrims two years later, on July 30, 1623. It was formally proclaimed by the governor as a day of prayer to thank God for their deliverance from drought and starvation, and for the safe arrival from Holland of the ship Anne.
In 1665 Connecticut proclaimed a solemn day of thanksgiving to be kept annually on the last Wednesday in October. Other New England colonies held occasional and local Thanksgivings at various times. In 1789 the federal Congress authorized and requested President George Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for the whole nation. Washington did this in a message setting aside November 26, 1789 as National Thanksgiving Day.

After 1789 the celebration reverted to local and regional observance for almost a hundred years. There grew, however, a strong desire among the majority of the people for a national Thanksgiving Day that would unite all Americans in a festival of gratitude and public acknowledgment for all the blessings God had conferred upon the nation. It was not until October 3, 1863, that this was accomplished, when President Abraham Lincoln issued, in the midst of the Civil War, a Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it the last Thursday of November was set apart for that purpose and made a national holiday.

Since then, every president has followed Lincoln's example, and annually proclaims as a "Day of Thanksgiving" the fourth Thursday in November. Only President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date, in 1939, from the fourth to the third Thursday of November (to extend the time of Christmas sales). This caused so much consternation and protest that in 1941 the traditional date was restored."

Exerpted from the Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, Francis X. Weiser

The month of November (Overview - Calendar) is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Church commemorates all her faithful children who have departed from this life, but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. St. Paul warns us that we must not be ignorant concerning the dead, nor sorrowful, "even as others who have no hope ... For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven ... and the dead who are in Christ shall rise.

The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone into eternity. Even in the Old Testament prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought "well and religiously concerning the resurrection." It was believed that "they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them" and that "it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into heaven.

Excerpted from Liturgical Meditations, The Sisters of St. Dominic

Duration of Purgatory

Purgatory is not eternal. Its duration varies according to the sentence pronounced at each particular judgment. It may be prolonged for centuries in the case of the more guilty souls, or of those who, being excluded from the Catholic communion, are deprived of the suffrages of the Church, although by the divine mercy they have escaped hell. But the end of the world, which will be also the end of time, will close for ever the place of temporary expiation. God will know how to reconcile His justice and His goodness in the purification of the last members of the human race, and to supply by the intensity of the expiatory suffering what may be wanting in duration. But, whereas a favourable sentence at the particular judgment admits of eternal beatitude being suspended and postponed, and leaves the bodies of the elect to the same fate as those of the reprobate; at the universal judgment, every sentence, whether for heaven or for hell, will be absolute, and will be executed immediately and completely.

Offering Prayers and Sacrifices

The Church Suffering and the Church Militant constitute in their relations a second circle of most vital activities. Having entered into the night "wherein no man can work," the Suffering Church cannot ripen to its final blessedness by any efforts of its own, but only through the help of others—through the intercessory prayers and sacrifices (suffragia) of those living members of the Body of Christ who being still in this world are able in the grace of Christ to perform expiatory works. The Church has from the earliest times faithfully guarded the words of Scripture that it is a holy and a wholesome thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins. [2 Macab. 12, 43] The suppliant cry of her liturgy: "Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them," can be heard already in the Acts of the martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas (A.D. 203) and is represented in numerous sepulchral inscriptions of the most ancient period, while theologians and Fathers of the Church, beginning with Tertullian, have supplied its substantial proof. . . . So fundamental indeed and so natural to man's hope and desire and love is this belief, that historians of religion have discovered it among almost all non-Christian civilized peoples: a striking illustration of Tertullian's saying that the human soul is naturally Christian.

The Catholic, therefore, is jealous to expiate and suffer for the "poor souls," especially by offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, wherein Christ's infinite expiation on the Cross is sacramentally represented, and stimulating and joining itself with the expiatory works of the faithful, passes to the Church Suffering according to the measure determined by God's wisdom and mercy.

— Karl Adam

Indulgences

By the practice of Indulgences, the Church places at the charitable disposal of the faithful the inexhaustible treasure accumulated, from age to age, by the superabundant satisfactions of the saints, added to those of the martyrs, and united to those of our Blessed Lady and the infinite residue of our Lord's sufferings. These remissions of punishment she grants to the living by her own direct power; but she nearly always approves of and permits their application to the dead by way of suffrage, that is to say, in the manner in which, as we have seen, each of the faithful may offer to God who accepts it, for another, the suffrage or succour of his own satisfactions.

The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

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 to 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:

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.

Documents

Websites

BACK TO LIST