Three Things You Can Do To Help Your Departed Loved Ones, And One To Ask A Priest To Do For the Dying

cemetery 6November is the month when the Church Militant prays for the Church Suffering, meaning the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Most of us submit the names of loved ones to our parish or a Mass society to be remembered during this month. But ask yourself this:

  1. What else can I do to make a difference for my loved ones who may still be suffering in purgatory?
  2. Besides the Anointing of the Sick, is there anything I can do to spiritually assist a loved one who is dying?

For answers to these questions, I turned to EWTN Chaplain Fr. Joseph Mary. Here’s what Fr. Joseph recommends we do in November:

cemetery 3

For the Souls in Purgatory:

  • November 1-8:  You can obtain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in purgatory if you “devoutly visit a cemetery and, at least mentally, pray for the departed.”

(That means you don’t have to pray out loud, but you certainly can!) If you are reading this after Nov. 8, don’t worry. You can still receive a partial indulgence by performing the actions above.)

  • On All Soul’s Day (Nov. 2): You can receive a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory, if you “devoutly visit a church or oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed.”
  • Daily in November: Here’s a suggestion Father Joseph was given and really likes – so he is passing it on to EWTN’s viewers. Get out your calendar, and write down the name of a deceased family member or friend that you intend to pray for that day. Offer up everything, good and bad, that happens to you that day, and pray as much as you can for their release, if necessary, from purgatory. This is an important spiritual work of mercy!
  • At any time, you can gain a partial indulgence for the poor souls by reciting morning or evening prayer from the Office of the Dead, or devoutly reciting the prayer “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

cemetery 2For Those in Danger of Death:

There are many benefits of working at EWTN. When my husband was dying of cancer, I knew I needed to ask a priest to administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. In fact, my husband had been anointed a number of times over the eight years he battled the disease.

However, when EWTN Chaplain Father Joseph Mary visited our home in the days before my husband’s death, he asked my husband if he would like to receive an “Apostolic Blessing.” That’s something I didn’t know about. You definitely want to ask your priest to administer this blessing to a loved one who is dying as part of the last rites, which state, “A priest who administers the sacraments to someone in danger of death should not fail to impart the apostolic blessing to which a plenary indulgence is attached.”

If a priest is not present as a person is dying, and they haven’t previously received the apostolic blessing during that sickness (which would suffice),  the Church “grants to the Christian faithful, who are duly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they are in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime; in such a case, the Church supplies for the three conditions ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence” (confession, communion, and prayers for the intention of the pope).  In those situations, the Church also commends the devout use of a crucifix.

cemetery 4All of the above has yet another benefit. Father Joseph says that #958 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that our prayer for the souls in purgatory “is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.”

Did you know that?  While the Holy Souls can no longer pray for themselves, they can pray for us!  Think of the greeting you will get one day when you meet a soul whom you helped obtain release from purgatory! In helping them, we may very well be one day helping ourselves, when they are in heaven and we are not yet there!

(Note: For the LIVING to receive an indulgence we must go to confession 20 days before or after we perform the indulgenced actions, receive Holy Communion (preferably on the day or days we perform the actions), pray for the Holy Father’s intentions, and be unattached to sin. That latter is a tough one, but all is not lost. Since most of us are attached to something, we may receive a partial indulgence rather than a plenary indulgence.)

This entry was posted in Afterlife, Bishops, Priests, Religious, Prayers and Devotions, Suffering. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Three Things You Can Do To Help Your Departed Loved Ones, And One To Ask A Priest To Do For the Dying

  1. Pingback: All Souls’ Day: Praying for the Faithful Departed| National Catholic Register – The Old Roman

  2. Peter Ocheibi says:

    Nice article and thanks for sharing. May the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God RIP. Amen

  3. Prisca Chine Iwu says:

    Thanks for sharing. It’s the greatest form of charity to pray for the departed souls. My question is what happens when a baby of one month dies without being baptised ?

    • mjohnsonewtn says:

      From the Catechism
      1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism. (1257, 1250)

  4. Patricia O'Reilly says:

    Can a person receive the benefits of the Last Rites if he has passed before the priest visits.

    • mjohnsonewtn says:

      I asked Father Joseph to answer this question. Here’s what he said: “A priest anoints if the person passed within a short time before arrival – as we were taught that we do not know when the precise moment the soul leaves the body. If it has been some time (maybe an hour) the priest prays the prayers for the dead in the presence of the body.”
      Hope this helps! God bless you Patricia!

  5. Mila Rustia says:

    How can that be possible?
    If that is so, I beg the Blessed Mother to be the treasurer of all the merits i have gotten in this life.

  6. Michael J Murphy says:

    You can recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the bedside of one who is close to death and Jesus will protect as His own Glory

    • Lyn Holin says:

      It is a very good thing to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at a person’s death bed because at that moment Jesus is between that person and you and He is forgiving the sins of even the gravest sinner…

      • mjohnsonewtn says:

        You’re right Lyn! When a person says the Chaplet even once or when we say it for them, Jesus promises to meet them as the Merciful Savior and not the Just Judge. As Mother Angelica would say: “That’s awesome!”

        • Sonja Rose says:

          I feel so sad, we prayed the Chaplet many times together, yet in the hour when my husband needed it the most, when he was lying there dying, I did not think of to pray at all. I was so confused and didn’t know what to do.. They brought him from the hospital at night and told me to only wet his lips. I think he was in a coma cause he never opened his eyes. He died in the morning, right after I felt let to tell him: Jim run to Jesus he’s waiting for you. our son said that right after that he took his last breath., He died of covet pneumonia January 20..

          • mjohnsonewtn says:

            Sonja, your post was cut off. But it appears you were unable to say the chaplet with your husband when he died. Fear not! There is no time in heaven. You say you prayed the chaplet with your husband many times. You only need to say it once and the Lord’s promise is that He will meet you as the Merciful Savior and not the just judge! It’s an awesome promise from our awesome Savior! God bless you honey!

  7. Maureen moore says:

    Good article who wrote it,

  8. Kathy Larson says:

    Please pray for Florence she went to be with the Lord on January 14, 2019 at 4:14 P.M. Thank You God Bless

    • mjohnsonewtn says:

      Eternal rest grant unto Florence Oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


    Watched 1998 Classic. Fr. Joseph in audience, young still not a priest. I can imagine Mother Angelica had some influence.
    Eileen Scruggs Wisconsin
    Mother talked about Sr. Rafael’s death – beautiful

  10. Isabel says:

    I enjoy praying for the souls in purgatory n speaking to them it helps with my hope n spiritually

  11. Yolanda Olea says:

    Praying. For My Relatives Who Are In Purgatory and Also For All That Are Dying.

  12. Linda Schoenmann says:

    Thanks for the information. I’ve been gaining a Plenary Indulgence daily (I hope!) for the past 6 years or over 2,000 so far! I’ve included wording for the Apostolic Blessing in my HealthCare Power of Attorney to make sure my Agent requests that from a priest. I like Fr. Joseph’s idea of writing the name of a different deceased loved one on the calendar to pray for each day. Just a clarification – I believe the 4 usual conditions to gain an Indulgence (Confession, Holy Communion, pray for the Pope’s intention, and be free from all attachment to sin) apply to ALL Plenary Indulgences, whether for the living or the dead.

  13. One other thing that can be done is to make ‘the heroic sacrifice’ This requires the permission of one’s confessor. It requires that one offers all the merit received in this life should go to the Holy Souls.

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