the souls in Purgatory desire our prayers



(Christian souls arrive in Purgatory singing and escorted by an angel, Canto II, Dante. Drawing by Gustave Dore)

“The faithful who apply indulgences as suffrages for the dead are practicing charity in a superior way and with their thoughts on the things of Heaven are dealing more virtuously with the things of earth.” (Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences)

My mission:  to come up with a short but powerful devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory who are counting on our prayers so that they may advance to the one thing their hearts desire and yearn for: union with God.

Plan:  Find the shortest indulgenced prayer possible that can be offered up all day long for the Holy Souls with virtually no effort.

Result:  Consulted The Handbook of Indulgences and discovered on page 82, #55, that “a partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly sign themselves with the cross while saying the customary formula: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Now, an indulgenced prayer is normally made for your own benefit, but can be applied as a suffrage to the poor souls in Purgatory, thus reducing their sufferings in Purgatory and advancing them nearer to the one true goal of life: to be with God in Heaven. Those souls are counting on our prayers!


(I am relying on Father Faber, who makes the following points in various contexts in All for Jesus; the whole inspiration and basic content for this note comes from him.)

1. You begin to make the Sign of the Cross with awesome reverence knowing you are helping the poor souls;

2. In practicing this devotion you grow closer to the Trinity as you say their names with tenderness and love; and you remind yourself, in signing yourself with the cross, that the cross is the true wisdom of God, i.e., love entails sacrifice;

3. You give great glory to God because you assist Him in the ultimate goal of His love: bringing souls to Heaven to praise Him;

4. You practice the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love because you practice faith in the supernatural value of this devotion as revealed by the Church, you hope for something you cannot see, and you show love for your brothers and sisters in Purgatory by making this prayer applicable to them;

5. You grow in holiness since this prayer, which could have been made for your own welfare as an indulgence to reduce your time in Purgatory, is given in loving sacrifice as a suffrage to the poor souls;

6. You develop a habit of devotion that keeps your mind attuned to the supernatural operation of grace and to the goal of life: salvation! (and this is an attitude which acts as an antidote to worldliness – our arch enemy); and

7. It is possible that when these souls reach Heaven they will pray for you and for your salvation – ALL THIS BY REVERENTLY MAKING THE SIGN OF THE CROSS A FEW TIMES A DAY with the preface of saying: “For the Holy Souls in Purgatory,” or for Grandpa Smith or Aunt Mary. How easy can Jesus make things for us! Or you could say, “MotherMary, For the poor souls in Purgatory you love so much.”

Now imagine for the next 40 years you made such an act of love, by making the sign of the cross for the poor souls 5 times a day (30 seconds of prayer). At the day of judgment, you will have said about 73,000 (seventy-three thousand) prayers for the poor souls in Purgatory! What an awesome devotion in the Communion of Saints!

For the souls in Purgatory: “In the Name of the Father….”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Source: All for Jesus, F.W. Faber

Note: In the updated Manual of Indulgences this prayer is found on page 98, #28, part II (4th Edition).

Image: The image is from the Wikipedia article on Purgatorio by Dante. The caption states: “Purgatorio, Canto II: Christian souls arrive singing, escorted by an angel.” The drawing is by Gustave Dore, Public Domain, U.S.A.

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