praying for souls

for the past few months, I have been praying for the souls in purgatory. I have devoted much time to this.
Yesterday, I went to church and the priest advised me that my prayers are in fact not helping the souls as I am not in a state of grace.

My last confession was a few months ago I admit. But surely, my prayers are counting for something??

That is bizarre to me. I assume he meant you should go to confession and return to a state of grace?

I suppose I am not in a state of grace either. I haven’t been to confession in a few months. But I hope, too, that my prayers count for something. I’ve been praying several prayers a night, since my son died in January, for the repose of his soul, my dad’s, my brother’s and others in purgatory.

It would really hurt me if I thought I wasn’t helping him because I know there is no one else praying for him. I pray God knows my heart and sees the earnestness of this mother’s prayers for her son’s soul.

I’m starting to think that maybe he meant that my prayers would have more weight if I was in a state of grace…not sure but it’s certainly the first time a priest had told me that.

Saint Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil, may God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you, O’ Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls.


Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.


PS- Does this have something to do with the post?

Continue praying, and if there is grave sin that the priest knows you have not repented of, also turn from that in contrition and confess it to return to right friendship with God.

God does care for the souls in Purgatory, and does accept the suffering of His friends in exchange for theirs, for they are also His friends.

Keep praying BUT get thee to confession ASAP. I try to go to confession at least every 3-4 weeks. More often when I am aware of mortal sins.

I’m at 3 weeks today. So its off to confession.

I am another one who hopes this priest knows your heart and can tell if you’re in mortal sin or not. I always thought that only God knew that. Your priest may know if you’ve committed a grave sin tho’. Your prayers may have added effect if you’re in grave sin and the conditions were such that you thought you may be in mortal sin so then confession is where you need to go.

impetration means “The action of requesting something fervently, or of obtaining something by fervent request.” (Oxford Dictionary)

Catholic Encyclopedia:Speaking of satisfaction in the rigorous sense, the living can offer to God, and by impetration move Him graciously to accept, the satisfactory value of their own good works on behalf of the souls in purgatory, or in view of it to remit some part of their discipline; in this sense we may be said to satisfy for the dead. But in order that the personal works of the living may have any satisfactory value, the agents must be in the state of grace. The prayers of the just are on this account more efficacious in assisting the dead than the prayers of those in sin, though it does not follow that the general impetratory efficacy is altogether destroyed by sin. God may hear the prayers of a sinner for others as well as for the supplicant himself. The Sacrifice of the Mass, however, retains its essential efficacy in spite of the sinfulness of the minister; and the same is true in lesser degree, of the other prayers and offices offered by the Church’s ministers in her name.

Toner, P. (1908). Prayers for the Dead. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Does he “know” with certainty that you are not in a state of grace? Then, by all means, get to confession asap. He is correct, indulgences can only help the souls in purgatory if you are in a state of grace.

If you aren’t in the state of grace, you are spiritually dead, cut-off from God. As such, your prayers (except to get back in the state of grace) are absolutely completely useless towards those you are praying for.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit