Before I give you all the official Church teaching on the souls in purgatory. I must tell you why this subject is close to my heart. I KNOW personally, the agony of a soul who is desperate for my prayers. I have learned through personal experience, that souls in purgatory, although they cannot pray for themselves, press in on the most sensitive of their relatives for prayer.
My Ukrainian grandmother, who had been in Canada for barely 15 years, died accidentally under extreme duress as a young mother of three boys when her husband was at war. Since this occurred in the 1940’s, she was denied a Christian burial in the Catholic church. When my grandfather returned from the war, the young family left the Catholic Church and my grandfather remarried a Protestant Presbyterian. In turn, I was raised in this church with no knowledge of any Catholic roots until I converted. My father pleaded with me to reconsider; his childhood memories of how the Church handled immigrants were horrific.
Although they cannot pray for themselves, souls in purgatory pray for us, especially for those who pray for them. St. John Vianney said:
“If one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them, they will pray for us.”
St. Theresa of Avila (Spain) said that she always obtained the favours, which she asked from God, through the intercession of the Souls in Purgatory.
Our Lady of Medjugorje on July 21, 1982 spoke these words in a message to the world,
Concerning Purgatory; “There are many souls in Purgatory. There are also persons who have been consecrated to God – some priests, some Religious. Pray for their intentions, at least the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be seven times each, and the Creed. I recommend it to you. There is a large number of souls who have been in Purgatory for a long time because no one prays for them.”
Saintly Padre Pio expressed his thought on Purgatory by simply saying,
“Holy Souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful which can gain indulgences for them. Their intercession is powerful. Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.”
Prayer for the dead is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform. Our prayers help them during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven. These prayers are especially suited for offering a novena on behalf of the dead, or for praying during those seasons of the year (November, in the Western Church; Lent, in the Eastern Church) designated by the Church as times of fervent prayer for the faithful departed.
Faithful Departed here is a link for many more prayers for the month of November
Prayer for Mercy on the Souls in Purgatory
While we know that all who are in Purgatory will enter into Heaven, we are still bound by charity to try to lessen the suffering of the Holy Souls through our prayers and deeds. While our first responsibility is to those people we have known, it is important to remember in our prayers those souls who are most forsaken.
The Heroic act of Charity : O my God, in union with the merits of Jesus and Mary, I offer Thee for the Souls in Purgatory, all my Satisfactory Works, as well as those which may be applied to me by others during my life and after my death. And to be more agreeable to the Divine Heart of Jesus and more helpful to the departed I place them all in the hands of the merciful Virgin Mary.