Extended Prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

One sees numerous books, pamphlets, and other material with various formulations of prayers for the Holy Souls. Is it not as efficacious to say “May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace” or something along that line as re-wording that thought in other ways? Are the formulas mostly for our own benefit in understanding Purgatory and death and, ultimately, Heaven?

Whether a prayer is efficacious depends on the condition of the person’s heart/ mind/ soul who is saying it. A short prayer by a sincere or holy person can be more efficacious than a long prayer by an insincere or less holy person.

One reason for longer prayers is to help the person praying to fix their mind on the subject to be prayed for and to just get more into it and by spending more time, show themselves more sincere.

Sure, God hears short and simple prayers, so pray any way you want. However, the Catholic Church has many beautiful prayers, passed down through centuries, so it would be wise to look into some of them. When we say such prayers we know we are joining with many others, world wide, saying the same prayer. There’s power in that. For example, many of us pray the St. Gertrude prayer for the Holy Souls. Or the ancient prayer: Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

I have been praying the prayer of St. Gertrude and every day I say the other prayer you quoted. It just dawned on me that what we really want to do is to ask God for the release of souls from Purgatory (and the conversion of sinners). What you are really saying is that the various forms of that prayer are for the benefit of those who are praying. Long or short, we join those millions of others in this good and blessed effort. And, if the number of such prayers matters, the shorter the version the better (probably it is really the intention of the one praying).

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