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Pray a Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Oct 23, 2017 By Gretchen Filz | 27 Comments

The Catholic Church dedicates the entire month of November to praying in a special way for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Holy Souls also have their own feast day on November 2nd.

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) was a bishop, founder of the Redemptorists, Doctor of the Church, and patron saint of moral theologians. He composed the following novena (nine days of prayer for a particular intention) for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

November is the ideal time of year to pray the following novena to bring relief to the suffering souls in purgatory. To coincide with their November 2nd feast day (undoubtedly making this novena that much more efficacious), begin the novena on October 24th.

However, you can pray this novena at any time as part of a special devotion to the Holy Souls, especially for those among your own deceased family, friends, or acquaintances.

WHO ARE THE HOLY SOULS?

The Holy Souls in Purgatory (also called the Faithful Departed) are members of the Church who await the purification of their souls before joining the saints in heaven for all eternity. Specifically, they are called the Church Suffering  (the saints in heaven are the Church Triumphant, and the saints on earth are the Church Militant ).

The souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves, they cannot do anything to hasten their entrance into heaven. But we can pray for them.

Our prayers for the suffering souls in purgatory is an act of charity that eases their suffering and helps them complete their purification sooner. This is our role in the communion of saints. Just as the saints in heaven (the Church Triumphant) pray for us on earth making our way to heaven (the Church Militant), so we who are alive on earth can pray for the holy souls in purgatory (the Church Suffering). And, if we pray for them, they will pray for us in return in gratitude for helping them get to heaven more quickly.

Read more What Do Catholics Really Believe About Purgatory?

The prayers below and the short meditations which introduce them are a great catechesis on the sufferings of the souls in purgatory, whom we regrettably do not think of very often. Yet it is a future that in all probability awaits the majority of us, except for those who practiced heroic virtue during life. Let this Doctor of the Church teach us to have more consideration of and charity towards these members of the Body of Christ!

Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

 

Novena for the Holy Souls by St. Alphonsus Liguori

Let us commend to Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother the Holy Souls in Purgatory, in particular those of our relatives, benefactors, friends, and enemies; especially those for whom we are bound to pray; and let us offer the following consideration and prayers for them, pondering over the great sufferings which these spouses of Christ endure.

PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE SOULS IN PURGATORY

[This prayer is should be repeated on each of the nine days at the conclusion of the prayers for that day]

O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them, O Lord, have mercy on them.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.

Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.

Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.

Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.

Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.

Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.

Have mercy on them, O Lord.

[As you pray for the Holy Souls in purgatory, you can also request that they pray for you. Mention the favor you hope to obtain from God during this novena through their intercession.]

Blessed Souls, [we/I] have prayed for thee; [we/I] entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for [us/me] miserable sinner/s, who [is/are] in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

FIRST DAY

Meditation: Manifold are the sufferings which these Blessed Souls must endure, but the greatest of all is the reflection that their sins in life are the cause of their present torments.

Prayer

O Jesus, my Savior, I have so often deserved to be cast into Hell; how great were my suffering if I were now cast away and obliged to think that that I, myself, had cause my damnation! I thank Thee for the patience with which Thou hast endured me. My God, I love Thee above all things and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee because Thou art infinite goodness. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of perseverance; have pity on me, and at the same time on those Blessed Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

on these suffering children Thine; 

Make these Holy Souls partakers

of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

SECOND DAY

Meditation: The second pain which causes these Holy Souls much suffering, is the time lost in life, when they might have gained merits for Heaven; and the thought that they are unable to repair this loss, because the time of life and merit is passed.

Prayer

Woe to me, unhappy being, so many years have I already spent on earth and have earned naught but Hell! I give Thee thanks, O Lord, for granting me time even now to atone for my sins. My good God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. Send me Thy assistance, that I may apply the time yet remaining to me for Thy love and service; have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

THIRD DAY

Meditation: Another great pain of the Holy Souls is caused by the hideous vision of their guilt, for which they now suffer. In this life the hideousness of sin is not seen as in the life to come; and this is one of of the greatest sufferings in Purgatory.

Prayer

O my God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I love Thee above all things, and repent with my whole heart of my offenses against Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

FOURTH DAY

Meditation: The pain that still more afflicts these Holy Souls, the spouses of Jesus, is the thought of having, during life, displeased by their sins that God Whom they so ardently love. Some penitents have felt so much pain and sorrow in thinking of having, by their sins, offended so good a God, that they died of grief. The Souls in Purgatory understand far better than we do, the claims that God has to our love; they love Him with all their strength. Hence, at the thought of having offended Him during life, they experience pain that surpasses all other pain.

Prayer

O my God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee. I promise to die rather than ever offend Thee more. Give me holy perseverance; have pity on me, and have pity on those Holy Souls that burn in the cleansing fire, and love Thee with all their hearts. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

FIFTH DAY

Meditation: Another great suffering is caused these Holy Souls by the ignorance of the time of their deliverance. They are certain of being one day released, yet the uncertainty of the time when their Purgatorial term will have ended, gives them great pain.

Prayer

Woe to me, unhappy being, if Thou, O lord, hadst cast me into eternal Hell; for far from that dungeon of eternal pain there is no deliverance. O love Thee above all things, O infinite God, and I am sincerely sorry for having ever offended Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

SIXTH DAY

Meditation: The Holy Souls are, indeed, comforted by the recollection of the Passion of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, since they know they are saved by the Passion of Jesus Christ, and have received, and still receive, so much consolation from Holy Masses and Holy Communions. Nevertheless, they are greatly pained by the recollection of their ingratitude for these two great gifts of the love of Jesus Christ.

Prayer

O my Divine Redeemer, Thou didst die for me on the Cross, and hast so often united Thyself with me in Holy Communion, and I have repaid Thee only with ingratitude. Now, however, I love Thee above all things, O supreme God; and I am more grieved at my offenses against Thee than at any other evil.  I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

SEVENTH DAY

Meditation: A further great sorrow of these Holy Souls consists in their ardent desire for the Beatific Vision, Slowly and painfully the moments of their Purgatorial imprisonment pass by; for, they love God deeply, and desire to be delivered from their sad prison in order to praise Him forever.

Prayer

O God, Father of Mercy, satisfy this their ardent desire! Send them Thy holy Angel to announce to them that Thou, their Father, art now reconciled with them through the suffering and death of Jesus, and that the moment of their deliverance has arrived. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

EIGHTH DAY

Meditation: Another bitter sorrow of these Souls is caused by the reflection that God had distinguished them by so many graces not granted to others, and that they compelled Him, by their sins, to condemn them to these sufferings, and that they had deserved Hell, and were pardoned and saved only by the mercy of God.

Prayer

O my God! I also am one of these ungrateful beings, having received so much grace, and yet despised Thy love, and deserve to be cast by Thee into Hell. But Thy infinite goodness has spared me until now. Therefore, I now love Thee above all things, and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

NINTH DAY

Meditation: Great are all the sufferings of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, the fire, the grief, the darkness, the uncertainty of the time of their deliverance from prison; but the greatest of all these sorrows is this, that these Holy Souls are separated from their Divine Spouse, and deprived of His Beatific Vision.

Prayer

O my God! how was it possible that I, for so many years, have borne tranquilly the separation from Thee and Thy holy grace! O infinite Goodness, how long-suffering hast Thou Thyself to me! henceforth, I shall love Thee above all things. I am deeply sorry for having offended Thee. grant me the grace of holy perseverance, and do not permit that I should ever again fall into sin. Have compassion on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. I pray Thee, moderate their sufferings; shorten the time of their misery; call them soon unto Thee in Heaven, that they may behold Thee face to face, and forever love Thee. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession, and pray for us also who are still in danger of eternal damnation.

Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

On Thy Spouses have compassion,

On these suffering children Thine;

Make these Holy Souls partakers

Of Thy happiness Divine.

Pray the O Most Sweet Jesus prayer.

Conclude the ninth day with:

Out of the Depths [De Profundis] Prayer

Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication: If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered. I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word. My soul waits for the Lord, more than sentinels wait for the dawn. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord; For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption; And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

NOTE: The De Profundis prayer may be added at the end of each day's prayer, as it carries a partial indulgence.

Novena for the Holy Souls

This article has been updated and was first published in October 2014. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion. After receiving her M.A. in Christian Apologetics, she converted to the Catholic Faith in 2011. She lives and works in the Diocese of Charlotte.

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