Some “November” FAQs about Purgatory, the Saints, and Prayers for the Dead

Each November, the Church asks us to remember in a special way those who have died, both the triumphant souls in Heaven (Nov 1, All Saints Day) and the souls still being purified in Purgatory (Nov 2, All Souls Day).

This usually raises some questions, like…

Why do Catholics pray for the dead?

Do Catholics worship the saints?

– Does the Church still believe in indulgences?

When we understand the “heart” of these holy days, we can see the beauty and the wisdom the Church is offering us here.

Nov 1: On All Saints Day, we honor with great joy all of those holy men and women who are up in Heaven.  We look to their examples of living good Christian lives, and ask them to pray for us.  Many families celebrate with cake and sharing the stories of their special patron saints in the family… after getting to Mass for the Holy Day, of course!

Nov 2: On All Souls Day, we pray for those who have died, especially those whom we love.  As Catholics we believe that our prayers really matter, and can help these souls move from Purgatory to Heaven.  The Church so firmly believes in the power of our prayers for the dead, in fact, that she tells us we can help a loved one move to Heaven by completing these prayers here. (As in all things, this is not “magic”… it is a tribute to the reality that we are all members of the one family of God, and death cannot separate those united in the Body of Christ.  Just as we are commanded on earth to help and care for one another, this responsibility carries on after death, especially for those whom we love.)

Month of November: For the rest of November, our prayers for the dead continue.  Many families include a special Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet for the dead in their prayers, as well as the “Eternal Rest” prayer.  At MDP, you will see photos of our beloved deceased up on the side altar in November, and many of our clergy will pause for a moment of prayer before Mass.  They are praying for the souls of all those who have died, especially those from MDP Parish.