November – The month of Praying for the Dead
In November the Church remembers our Faithful Departed, as 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 is found not only in public and private prayers but also in the offering of the Mass for the repose of the souls of the departed. Similarly, in November the Church prays for all who are in Purgatory, awaiting for the day, when fully purified ,they will join the company of the saints in heaven. The celebration of Mass is the ultimate means that the Church can provide for charity for the dead. However, the faithful can also relieve their sufferings through prayers, sufferings and penances, or other 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 November. During November the Church also meditates on the Communion of Saints, which is the 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).
November: The Souls of the Faithful:
Let me see if I can recall, if I can remember
The wintry days of the month of November
The wind above my head blew and swirled
The dark clouds before me were unfurled
The leaves clinging to the windswept trees
Gave up their struggle, to the fierce breeze
My breaking heart sunk deep into my chest
And a myriad of memories became my guest
The souls of the faithful are in God’s hands
Life, a precious gift, lived as God’s commands
We walk this green earth for only a few years
Our tiny steps accompanied by joys and tears
All crammed into the little time we are given
Until we set our sights upon walking in heaven
I pray for the departed loved ones, I will remember
A sacred intention, in the month of November.
Fr. Patrick Brennan
2013 copyright, with permission