The article below is from: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=1178
On November 1st the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints, a holyday of obligation, honoring all those faithful in heaven. Throughout November the Church also remembers our faithful departed. The need and duty of prayer for the departed souls has been acknowledged by the Church at all times. It is recommended in the Scriptures of the Old Testament: “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”(2 Macch. 12, 46). This duty has found expression not only in public and private prayers but especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of souls.
Throughout November the Church prays for all who are in the purifying fires of Purgatory, waiting for the day when they will join the company of the saints in heaven. The celebration of Mass is the highest means the Church can provide for charity for the dead, but we can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, sufferings and penances. We can also help the Poor Souls by doing acts and prayers that have indulgences attached to them. There are many indulgences, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, that can be obtained during the month of November.
An indulgence is “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned.” To obtain this remission there are proper dispositions and certain conditions predetermined by the Church that must be met by the faithful. The remission is acquired through the intervention of the Church, who has the power to loose and bind granted through Jesus Christ. “As minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints” (Enchiridion of Indulgences).
To understand this practice of indulgences, the Catechism explains:
An indulgence can either be partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes only part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.
To be able to gain an indulgence, one must have the intention to gain them, and perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed.
To attain a plenary indulgence, three conditions must accompany the prescribed act:
All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. If one’s disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial.
One must also remember that one can acquire one plenary indulgence a day.
Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:
Many families add to the “Prayer Before Meals” the second half of the “Eternal Rest” prayer:
Other families recite the “Eternal Rest” prayer in between decades of the rosary.
It is a good devotion to pray for the departed all through the year, not just November. After these Souls in Purgatory are in heaven, they will intercede for us. We should all develop prayerful habits, such as praying the “Eternal Rest” prayer when passing cemeteries, to remind us of our eternal destiny.
ALL PHOTOS TAKEN IN LONDON, HIGHGATE CEMETERY BY AIRMARIA.COM