This week will begin the month of November. We end October with a secular holiday of Halloween and begin the new month of November with All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. Halloween started as a pagan feast day that demanded a sacrifice to the pagan gods. The priests of the old Irish pagan religion demanded a sacrifice from the harvest. They would knock on every door demanding the food for sacrificing to the pagan gods. When the person opened the door they would say, “trick or treat,” meaning, get us the food for sacrifice or we will put a curse on you. Not my idea of a great holiday.
Of course, as Christians, we cannot play a part in false worship. Christians would not give for the sacrifice, so they got curses. So, the day of All Saints Day came along. The saints protected them from the curses. It also showed that God triumphs the evil in this world. The saints are in heaven and therefore have already triumphed. If they have already triumphed, they can triumph for us and help protect us from the evil in this world. God uses angels in many accounts in the Bible, and so He uses humans that are now in heaven to help us too. In fact, we need them, because all of the Church is needed to triumph, and those who have gone before us are still considered part of the Church, the people of God.
The day after All Saints Day is All Souls Day. This special feast day is when the Church militant, those of us here on earth, will take the time to pray for those who have died, but have not yet gotten to heaven. These are the souls in purgatory. We cannot assume anybody is in either heaven or hell. The best thing we can do is pray for them like Paul prayed for Onesimus in 2 Timothy 1:16-18. WE can pray for those who have died and ask God to have mercy on them, but the souls in purgatory do not have the luxury any more to pray for themselves. Once a person has died, they truly know that God exists and the depth of their sins. The prayers are no longer in faith, but with absolute knowledge. It is faith that pleases God, not knowledge. Only people on this side of judgement have the faith that can save. They need our help and we have an obligation to help them. That is why November is traditionally known to be the month to pray for the souls in purgatory.
Our Lady of Fatima encouraged us to pray for the souls in purgatory. They suffer a great deal knowing how much they have caused Jesus to suffer. I cannot imagine how much they suffer knowing the innocence of Jesus and knowing the suffering He endured for one’s self. The suffering they
endure is very real (Mt 5:26 and 1 Cor 3:15). In Fatima, Our Lady mentioned that Amelia, a friend of Lucia, was going to suffer in purgatory for the rest of time, until Jesus came again (https://www.bluearmy.com/november-draws-us-to-the-souls-in-purgatory-a-place-our-lady-of-fatima-confirmed/). Fatima is not the only evidence of the Souls in purgatory. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Padre Pio and many other mystics had many such visits. In fact, there is a museum in Rome dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory (https://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/e048-Museum_1.htm).
November is the month to pray for the Souls in purgatory. Take time to pray for those who need our prayers. It is the greatest gift you can give to those who have gone before us.