November begins with the Feast of All Saints and is followed by the Feast of All Souls on which we remember all those who have died and are in Purgatory, but the whole month is dedicated to prayer for them. ... As we pray for those who have died, it’s important that we have a better understanding of this process that we have traditionally called Purgatory. It’s not a physical place, because when we die, we leave behind our physical bodies — which will one day be raised to new life with our souls at the end of the world. And it’s not something that can be measured in time. Pope Benedict’s second encyclical, on hope, (Spe Salvi, In Hope We Are Saved) says:
It is clear that we cannot calculate the "duration" of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming "moment" of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning — it is the heart's time, it is the time of "passage" to communion with God in the Body of Christ.So Purgatory, or the process of purification that most will need when they leave this world, goes beyond our experience of time and space. Think of it this way: You go to a matinee movie, and after two hours in the dark theater, you emerge from the theater into the bright sunlight afternoon. What happens? You have to squint. Your eyes can’t take in the bright sunlight because they have become accustomed to the darkness of the theater. That’s what Purgatory is like. Depending on how much we have become accustomed to the darkness of the sin of this world, it will require a process by which we are able to see the light of Christ. So let’s pray for the souls of the departed. May the light of Christ shine upon them to heal them and bring them to the full vision of Christ Himself. (End of transcript)
Sacred Scripture tells us this purification is necessary because nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27). While some may die with their mortal sins forgiven, their souls remain impure due to venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.
Every time you attend Mass remember that:
◗ By piously hearing Holy Mass you afford the souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.
◗ You shorten your Purgatory by every Mass.
Additional links on Purgatory
You can still gain indulgences for the poor souls in Purgatory (see visiting a cemetery each day between November 1st - 8th).
Jimmy Akin asks "Is the Fire of Purgatory Jesus Himself?" (Answer, Yes.)
Church Militant discusses and defends the doctrine.
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori in "A Christian Duty" exhorts us to pray for the Church Suffering.
The New Theological Movement blog (defunct) has a number of offerings on the subject, including:
◗ Some facts about purgatory
◗ Two Homilies For All Souls: The Nature of Purgatory and How To Not Become A Forgotten Soul
◗ Is there fire in purgatory?
◗ Prayer, purgatory on earth
◗ Why do the souls in purgatory suffer so? An answer from St. John of the Cross
◗ If the Holy Sacrifice is of infinite value, why doesn't one Mass empty purgatory?
◗ Can the poor souls pray for us?
Also, consider reciting this intercession for souls in Purgatory.
Prayer to Release Souls from Purgatory
Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great, that the following prayer would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said. The prayer was extended to include living sinners which would alleviate the indebtedness accrued to them during their lives.
I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus,
in union with the Masses said throughout the world today,
for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory,
for sinners everywhere,
for sinners in the Universal Church,
those in my own home and within my family.
Amen.We ought to pray for the faithful departed in Purgatory throughout the year, not just during November. After these souls in Purgatory are in Heaven, they will intercede on our behalf.