Is praying for souls in purgatory valid?

The bible teaches that that evil spirit will suffer eternal punishment in hell and the righteous will have eternal life in heaven, and purgatory is a place where spirits are purified of their venial sin. So if the end result of the souls in purgatory is heaven, then why do we need to pray for them?

Praying or any righteous act done on behalf of the souls in purgatory will shorten their time there. If you pray for a recently deceased relative (say a cousin) you can help shorten their time. Further, if your cousin is in heaven they will no longer need your prayers and your prayers will go to someone else in purgatory. If they are in hell, your prayers will not assist them and, again, they will be applied to another soul. Your prayers are never wasted.

And welcome to the forum!!!


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Because they are part of the Communion of Saints…the Church Triumphant are in heaven and we pray to them for intercession on our behalf; the Church Expectant are those in Purgatory and we offer our prayers of intercession on the behalf; the Church Militant are the faithful on earth, and we pray for each other.

Praying for the souls in Purgatory has been a tradition of the Catholic Church for 2000 years. We pray for the dead all the time, including at every Mass. The entire month of November is devoted to the souls in Purgatory.
I’d strongly suggest, if you are new to the idea or need to understand it, that you turn to the Catholic Catechism and read up about it.

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They are the church suffering, and we must pray for them and offer masses for them because that is what will release them. They cannot pray for themselves. They can merit nothing for themselves in purgatory.

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As for why we need to pray for them, someday when you’re dead and maybe sitting in purgatory, I bet you’ll be hoping someone prays for you. It’s the right thing to do, and a kind thing to do, to pray for all people living and dead.

Is this “group” possibly called the Church Suffering. I’ve heard it called this.

It’s called the Church Suffering and also the Church Penitent.

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Both…church expectant is to show that purgatory has an end with the beatific vision realized when released before or at the second coming when they join the church triumphant…to me, church suffering more accurately speaks of the living faithful, and that the purifying nature of purgatory is Merciful and not punitive.

Souls on Earth deserve justice, they deserve to be punished for their sins, but we would still pay that they do not. Sometimes we may make penance to make up for their wrongdoings. It is the same thing for the souls in Purgatory. God sees it as charitable if we offer reparation for their temporal guilt.

Not to hijack the thread, but any thoughts of how long a soul stays in purgatory, vis-à-vis the power of prayer? I had one friar tell me he reckoned about a day, because each day at each mass the church prays collectively for the souls of the dead…not popular with legalisms, but I think the thought has considerable merit

Every prayer for those in purgatory shortens thier time there.

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Because it is a spiritual work of mercy.

Purgatory precedes Heaven, and is inescapable for many, though a temporary stay.

The souls immersed in the flames of Purgatory suffer only from love

Not undeserving of possessing the Light, but not worthy to enter therein immediately either, into the Kingdom of Light, these, on presenting themselves to God, are assailed by the Light. It is a brief, advance blessedness which makes them certain of their salvation, and aware of what their eternity will be like, and knowledge regarding what they did to their souls, defrauding them of years of blessed possession of God. Then, immersed in the place of purgation, they are assailed by the flames of expiation.

The flames are a fire of Love. They purify by inflaming souls with love. They give Love because, when the soul has therein attained the love it did not attain on earth, it is freed from them, and joined to Love in Heaven.

What does the Triune God want for the souls created by Him? Good.
What feelings does the One who wants Good for a creature have for the creature? Feelings of love.

What are the first and second commandments, the two most important ones, the ones regarding which Jesus said that there were no others greater, and that in them was the key to reaching eternal life? It is the commandment of love: “Love God with all your strength; love your neighbor as yourself”. Through His mouth, and that of the Prophets and Saints, what has Jesus said on multiple occasions? That charity is the greatest form of absolution. Charity consumes the sins and the weaknesses of man, for whoever loves in God, and in living in God he sins little, and if he sins, he immediately repents, and for whoever repents is the forgiveness of the Most High.

What did the souls fail in? In Love. If they had loved much, they would have committed few and slight sins, connected with their weakness and imperfection. But, they never would have reached the conscious obstinacy in even venial sin. They would have endeavored not to grieve their Love, and Love, seeing their good will, would have absolved them even of the venial sins committed.

How is reparation made for a sin, even on earth? By expiating it, and, if one can scarcely do so, through the means whereby it was committed. With the one who has done damage, by restoring what he has taken away with overbearance. With the one who has defamed, by retracting the defamation, and so on.

Now, if poor human justice wants this, won’t the holy justice of God want it? And, what means will God use to obtain reparation? Himself–that is, Love–and by demanding love.

This God, whom we have offended, and who loves us in a fatherly way, and wants to unite Himself to His creatures, leads us to obtain this union through Himself.


Everything hinges on Love, except for the real “dead”, the damned. For these “dead ones” Love, too, is dead. But, for the three realms–the heaviest one: the Earth; the one where the weight of matter is abolished, but not of the soul weighed down by sin: Purgatory; and, finally the one where the inhabitants share with their Father the spiritual nature which frees them from every encumbrance --the motor is Love. It is by loving on Earth that we work for Heaven. It is by loving in Purgatory that we conquer Heaven, which in life we were unable to merit. It is by loving in Paradise that we enjoy Heaven.

When a soul is in Purgatory, it does nothing but love, reflect, and repent in the light of Love, which for its sake has ignited those flames, which are already God, but which conceal God from it for its punishment.

This is the torment. The soul recalls the vision of God received in the private judgement. It bears that memory with it, and since having only glimpsed God is a joy surpassing every created thing, the soul is anxious to experience that joy again. That memory of God and that ray of light which have assailed it in its appearance before God makes the soul “see” the true significance of the faults committed against its Good, and this “seeing” together with the thought that because of those faults it has voluntarily deprived itself of the possession of Heaven, and of union with God of years or centuries, constitutes is purgative affliction.

Love, and the certainty of having offended Love, is the torment of those being purged. The more a soul has been at fault in life, the more it is as if blinded by spiritual cataracts which make knowing, and reaching that perfect loving repentance which is the first factor of its purgation, and entry into the Kingdom of God more difficult for it. The more a soul has oppressed with with sin, the more love is weighed down and sluggish. As it is cleansed by the power of Love, its resurrection to love is accelerated and, consequently, its conquest of Love, which is completed at the moment when, with the end of expiation, and the reaching of the perfection of love it is admitted into the City of God.


It is necessary to pray a lot so that these souls, that suffer to reach Joy, may be swift in attaining the perfect love which absolves them and unites them to God. Our prayers and our acts of intercession are as many increases in loving fire. They increase the burning. But–oh, blessed torment!–they also increase the capacity for loving. They speed up the process for purgation. They raise the souls immersed in that fire higher and higher degrees. They carry them to the threshold of the Light. They open the gates to Light, finally, and introduce the soul into Heaven.

To each of these operations, provoked by our charity towards those who have preceded us into the second life, there corresponds a leap in charity for us. The charity of God, who thanks us for providing for His children in affliction, and the charity of the afflicted, who thank us for working to introduce them into the joy of God.

Never do your loved ones you love so much as after earthly death, for their love is now infused with the Light of God, and in this Light they understand how you love them, and how they should have loved you.

They can no longer say words to you that ask for forgiveness and provide love, but they say them to Jesus for us, and He takes us these words of our dead, who are now able to see and love us as they should. He takes them to us together with their request for love and their blessing. A blessing already valid from Purgatory on, for it is already infused with the inflamed Charity which burns and purifies them. Perfectly valid, later, from the moment when, freed, they come to meet you on the threshold of Life or rejoin you therein, if you have already preceded them into the Kingdom of Love.

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