As Catholics around the globe spent today praying for the dead and those souls in purgatory, Fr. Gary Sellin said the practice is a part of the faith that "really needs to be recaptured."
“They are very close to us and they are very much dear to the heart of Jesus,” Fr. Gary Sellin, a professor of theology at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver told EWTN News.
“The intention of the Church is that we be reminded of the need they have for prayers,” he added. “Not only today but the whole month of November.”
One interesting facet that All Souls Day shares with Christmas is that on this day, priests are granted an indulgence to say the Mass three times—once for a personal intention, another for all the faithful departed and a final one for the intentions of the Pope.
Fr. Sellin recalled that the practice was begun in 1915 by Pope Benedict XV during World War I as “millions” of soldiers and civilians were losing their lives in the devastating conflict.
He explained that according to the Catechism, the Catholic Church has three parts: the Church militant, which consists of those on earth; the Church suffering, those souls that are in purgatory; and the Church triumphant, the “blessed in heaven.”
The souls in purgatory, “have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, they persevered to the end,” and “they are as much a part of the Church as we are,” he said.
However, “they cannot help themselves,” Fr. Sellin noted, and so “we can help them with our prayers and they in turn can help us with our prayers.”
“It's a very reciprocal relationship.”
The whole month of November is especially dedicated to the holy souls, he added, but for the other 11 months of the year, “we should always remember them. The most beautiful gift we can give them is to have a Mass offered for them.”
Fr. Sellin also encouraged Catholics to strive in their daily lives and in accordance with Church directives to gain partial and plenary indulgences for the souls in purgatory.
“That's a whole part of our Catholic faith that I think really needs to be recaptured—it's very rich,” he said. Ultimately, “we gain friends” by praying for the souls, “and they in turn can help us.”