The souls in Purgatory are our brothers and sisters, and there are several simple ways we can help to lessen their sufferings and speed them towards Paradise. The most basic is to pray for them, as the Church especially encourages in November. We can also offer sacrifices – a short fast, or persistent back pain, can be offered up for their benefit.
Best of all, we can have Masses said for them, individually or collectively. And we can gain a partial indulgence (time off Purgatory) by visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead, or by praying: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.”
The conditions for gaining the indulgence are to be in a state of grace, go to Confession within 20 days, receive Communion, pray for the Pope’s intentions, and be detached from venial sin. Pater Edmund Waldstein explains this last point: “It means that there is no venial sin that one is unwilling to give up.” That doesn’t mean you can guarantee you’ll never sin again, just that you intend not to. “Not having detachment would mean that there is some venial sin that you intend to keep on committing.”
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