During November the Church turns our minds to the suffering souls in purgatory. Purgatory is a great mercy from God allowing those who have died in friendship with God, but who’s are still due temporal punishment, to enter into heaven. Those souls who depart this life in the state of grace but with venial sin, or who have not paid their debt of temporal punishment due to those sins which guilt or eternal punishment has been forgiven, go to purgatory for a time. It is said that the fires of purgatory are the same as the fires of hell, except in purgatory they are temporary, and pain in purgatory is most great. While in purgatory, souls are unable to merit for themselves, but since we are still on earth we can offer up sufferings on their behalf to expiate their temporal punishment to make their time in purgatory quicker. The Church in her mercy also has indulgences, and these indulgences open up the treasure of Christ’s grace to remove some or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. For this reason we ought to strive to gain indulgences and offer them for the Holy Souls, who will surely remember us when they enter into heavenly paradise.

The Apostolic Penitentiary announces modifications to the Plenary Indulgence for the souls in purgatory during the month of November this year. The usual conditions apply unless stated otherwise:

  • The Plenary Indulgence for those who visit a cemetery can be obtained by anyone who visits a cemetery, even if only mentally, on any day in November, and devoutly prays for the faithful departed.
  • The Plenary Indulgence attached to All Souls Day can be obtained any other day of the month by devoutly visiting a church or an oratory, along with the recitation of the Our Father and the Creed.
  • For anyone who cannot leave their home for serious reasons, they can obtain the Plenary Indulgence by uniting themselves spiritually to other members of the faithful with the intention of complying as soon as possible with the three usual conditions, before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, recite pious prayers for the deceased or occupy themselves in considered reading of one of the Gospel passages proposed by the liturgy of the deceased, or perform a work of mercy by offering to God the sorrows and hardships of their own lives.

What are the usual conditions for an indulgence?

  • Be in a state of grace by the completion of the work or prayer
  • Detachment from sin, even venial; if lacking the indulgence is partial
  • Holy Communion (20 days before or after the indulgenced act)
  • Prayers for the intentions of the Pope (20 days before or after the indulgenced act). One Our Father and one Hail Mary is sufficent
  • Sacramental Confession (20 days before or after the indulgenced act). One confession with the intention of gaining all the indulgences we can is sufficient for all indulgences during the period.