“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Machabees 12:46)
The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has always taught that there is a purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory is also referred to in Holy Scripture. For example, we read that when Judas Machabeus had put Gorgias to flight, he came with his soldiers to bury the bodies of his slain countrymen. Greatly to his sorrow, he discovered that many of the dead had hidden under their coats certain charms taken from the idols of their enemies, which they had been forbidden to touch. Since their breaking of this commandment was not necessarily a mortal sin, Judas Machabeus made a collection of silver and sent it to Jerusalem so that sacrifice might be offered up for their sins. This merciful act of Judas Machabeus proves beyond a doubt that the Jеwѕ of old believed in a state after death in which souls had to make satisfaction for their sins, yet from which they could be released by the aid of prayer — in other words, they believed in purgatory.
There is also a passage in the New Testament which refers to the existence of purgatory. It comes from the lips of Our Lord: “But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come” (Matt. 12:32). The “world to come” means the life after death. So it is reasonable to conclude from these words of Christ that there are some sins for which men make satisfaction after death.
It is a truth of the Catholic faith that those on earth can help the suffering souls by offering prayers and good works for them.
Recitation of three Gloria Patri, each morning, noon, and evening.
Pius VII. (11 July, 1815) has granted an indulgence of 300 days to those who devoutly recite in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, three Gloria Patri (Glory be to the Father, etc.) in thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for the graces and privileges bestowed upon the Blessed Vіrgіn, especially in her Assumption. An indulgence of 100 days may be gained when the three Gloria Patri are recited at any one of the abovementioned times. Also, a plenary indulgence is granted in favour of those who shall have performed this devotion at the three specified times each day during a month, on the usual conditions. The above indulgences are all applicable to the souls in purgatory.
Prayer for those in their last agony.
To encourage the faithful to pray fervently for those in their last agony, to supplicate for them the grace of a happy death, Pope Pius IX. (2 Feb., 1850) granted an indulgence of 100 days to the faithful for each time that they repeat the following prayer with contrite heart and devotion. Also, a plenary indulgence to those who shall have said it three times a day at distinct intervals, during a month, to be gained on a day of their own selection, on the usual conditions and visit to a church. These indulgences are applicable to the souls in purgatory.
“O most clement Jesus, lover of souls! I beseech Thee, through the agony of Thy most holy Heart and through the dolours of Thy immaculate mother, wash in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and to die to-day. Amen.
O agonizing Heart of Jesus! have mercy on the dying.”
Another devotion for those in their last agony.
Pius VII. (18 April, 1802) granted an indulgence of 300 days to the faithful each time that with contrite heart and devotion they recite for those in their last agony the Lord's Prayer three times, in remembrance of the passion and agony of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the Hail Mary three times, in memory of the sorrows which the Blessed Vіrgіn underwent in being present at the agony and death of her Divine Son. Also, a plenary indulgence to those who shall have recited this devotion at least once a day during a month, to be gained on a day of one's own choice on the usual conditions. These indulgences are applicable to the souls in purgatory.
Offering to be made at Mass.
Pius IX. (11 April, 1860) granted an indulgence of three years to those who, at the time of holy Mass, shall say the following prayer with devotion and contrition.
“O Eternal Father! I offer to Thee the sacrifice which Thy beloved Son, Jesus, made of Himself on the cross, and which He now renews upon this altar; I offer it to Thee in the name of all creatures, together with all the Masses which have been celebrated or shall be celebrated throughout the world; in order to adore Thee and give Thee the honour which Thou dost deserve, to render Thee due thanks for Thy innumerable benefits, to appease Thy anger for our sins, and to give Thee due satisfaction for them; also, to supplicate Thee for myself, for the Church, for the whole world, and for the holy souls in purgatory. Amen.”
Trisagion of the Angels.
The following prayer is founded upon what is described in the Sacred Scriptures. (Isaias vi. 3; Apoc. iv. 8). To stimulate the faithful to give constant praise and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity, Pope Clement XIV. (26 June, 1770) granted an indulgence of 100 days, to be gained once a day on week days and thrice on Sundays, by those who shall recite devoutly and with contrite hearts the subjoined prayer. Also, a plenary indulgence to those who shall have recited it each day for a month, on the usual conditions. The indulgence of 100 days may be gained thrice each day during the Octave of the Most Holy Trinity. These indulgences are applicable to the souls in purgatory.
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, the earth is full of Thy glory. Glory be to the Father, glory be to the Son, glory be to the Holy Ghost.”
Offering of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
Pius VII. (22 March, 1817) granted an indulgence of 100 days for each devout repetition of the following offering of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus to the Eternal Father. It is applicable to the souls in purgatory.
“Eternal Father! I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus, in satisfaction for my sins, and for the wants of Holy Church.”
Prayer to the Most Holy Sacrament and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Pius VI. (7 Nov., 1787) granted, and Pius VII. (9 Feb., 1818) confirmed, an indulgence of 100 days to those who say devoutly the following prayer. It is applicable to the souls in purgatory.
“Behold, my loving Jesus, the boundless extent of Thy love! Thou hast prepared for me of Thy Sacred Flesh and Most Precious Blood a Divine banquet, wherein Thou givest me Thyself without reserve. Who urged Thee to this excess of love for me? Thy Heart, Thy own loving Heart! O adorable Heart of my Jesus, burning furnace of Divine love! into Thy Most Sacred Wound take Thou my soul, that in that school of charity I may learn to make a return of love to that God who has given me such wonderful proofs of his love. Amen.”
The Memorare, or Prayer of Saint Bernard to the Blessed Vіrgіn.
Pius IX. (25 July, 1846; 11 Dec., 1846) granted an indulgence of 300 days to the faithful each time that they recite with a contrite heart this prayer to the Blessed Vіrgіn. Also, a plenary indulgence to those who shall have said it each day for a month, on the usual conditions and visit to a church. These indulgences are applicable to the souls in purgatory.
“Remember, O most pious Vіrgіn Mary! that it has never at any time been heard that any one having recourse to thy protection, imploring thy aid, seeking thy intercession, was left unassisted. Animated by such grounds for confidence, I run to thee, O Vіrgіn of Vіrgіns, and Mother; I come to thee, and present myself, a weeping sinner, before thee. O Mother of the Word! despise not my petition, but hearken propitiously to it, and accede to it. Amen.”
Devotion to Our Lady of Dolours.
Pius VII. (1 Dec., 1815) granted an indulgence of 300 days, once a day, to those who, compassionating the Dolours of the Blessed Vіrgіn in the sufferings of her Divine Son, shall say the “Hail Mary” seven times, adding after each Hail Mary the following verse from the Stabat Mater:
“Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew,
Of my Saviour crucified.”
Also, a plenary indulgence to those who shall have performed this devotion each day during a month, on the usual conditions. These indulgences are applicable to the souls in purgatory.
Another devotion to Our Lady in her desolation.
Pius IX. (23 Dec., 1847) granted an indulgence of 100 days to the faithful each time they say the following prayer with contrite heart. The indulgence is applicable to the souls in purgatory.
“Hail Mary, full of sorrows: the Crucified is with thee: tearful art thou amongst women, and tearful is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of the Crucified, grant tears to us, the crucifiers of thy Son, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
(FROM “THE BOOK OF HOLY INDULGENCES,” COMPILED FROM THE DECREES OF THE SACRED CONGREGATION OF INDULGENCES, BY REV. M. COMERFORD. 1876.)