When asking the holy souls to intercede for us

Can we ask the holy souls to help other souls out of Pergatory? I’m guessing we can…

yes, who ever gets to heaven first sure they’ll pray for them,but i don’t think while still in purgatory their’s prayers are useful to those who stay in purgatory ,but sure their prayers are helpful for those on earth ,friends and relatives,that’s why we need to pray for them and the Catholic Church says a prayer during every Mass.



1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

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It’s generally taught that souls in purgatory cannot pray for other souls in purgatory, just like they can’t pray for themselves.

Many, though not all, theologians and visionaries have said that souls in purgatory can and do pray for people still on earth. Some take the view that those in purgatory cannot pray for people on earth while still in purgatory, but that once they get to Heaven, they will pray for those who prayed for them.


We here can pray for their souls and those already there can pray for us here but they can’t pray for themselves.

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Passages on Purgatory in Diary of St. Faustina


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We can (and ought to) pray for the holy souls in Purgatory.

The holy souls in Purgatory can request prayers from us, for their own souls.


I subscribe to that view.

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I do believe it was told to me more than once by clergy that we here on Earth (The Church Militant) can pray for the poor souls in Purgatory and the poor souls in Purgatory ( The Church Suffering )can pray for us here on Earth but they can not pray for themselves.

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Yes but maybe not while they are in Purgatory going through and immersed in spiritual torment but once they reach the Beatific Vision and are outside human time. To me we do not know for sure they can pray for us in our human time, but we can and should pray for them.

It is always a good idea to pray for the souls in Purgatory. Depending on which translation of sacred scripture we are using, Judas Maccabees called praying for the dead and offering an expiatory sacrifice for them a “holy and wholesome thought” or, a “holy and pious thought.” The Church prays for the holy souls in Purgatory at every Mass. Though technically the word “Purgatory” may not appear in the Eucharistic prayers, it is these holy souls who are implied when we pray for those who have died:

I Those who “rest in the sleep of peace. Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ . . .”
II " brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep . . . and all who have died in your mercy"
III “To our departed brothers and sisters . . . give kind admittance to your kingdom.”
IV "Remember also those who have died in the peace of your Christ and all the dead, whose faith you alone have known. "

While those already in Heaven have no need of our expiatory prayers, these prayers are never wasted, but would always be applied to another soul who is in need of them. Those who are in Hell, on the other hand,quite simply, do not want our prayers.

When speaking of expiatory prayer, we need to be mindful that we live and think in a world of time- measured by numerical order. Sometimes we can allow this to dominate the way in which we think of God in our everyday lives. St. Padre Pio’s example reminds us of how our being habituated to chronological sequence (as his doctor/friend was) can limit our understanding of how vastly God can apply our expiatory prayers to those who would require them:

When speaking with a doctor/acquaintance , Padre Pio told him, " I’m praying for the good death of my great-great grandfather". The doctor, remarked, “But he died more than one hundred years ago!” Padre Pio replied,
“Remember that for God there is no past and no future, and everything is present. So God made use at that time of the prayers I’m saying now.”

That being said, one of the brightest Catholic minds of our era - Fr. John Hardon SJ , who has written numerous books, publications, Catechisms, and who was asked by St John-Paul II to work as a special consultant to assist in compiling the documentation for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, implies in a very strong way, as does Tradition, that the holy souls in Purgatory, can intercede for us.

In the definition of Purgatory found in Fr. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, he writes :
“. . . As members of the Church Suffering, the souls in purgatory can intercede for the persons on earth, who are therefore encouraged to invoke their aid. Purgatory will not continue after the general judgment, but its duration for any particular soul continues until it is free from all guilt and punishment. . .”

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Why not? And how do you know this?

Thank you for all your replies :slight_smile:
God bless.

Imagine someone in purgatory. Nobody prays for them. Now imagine the same person and somebody prays for them. What would be the effect on the person in purgatory? If God is perfect and meting out perfect justice how can praying “improve” the perfect justice?

Many things concerning the suffering in Purgatory remain mysterious because they vary and apply in a personal way to each soul who is atoning in that state. From the same definition of Fr. Hardon:

“The sufferings in purgatory are not the same for all, but proportioned to each person’s degree of sinfulness.”

We can however reason that a soul in Purgatory would not be able to pray for another soul in Purgatory if we were to ask them to:

  1. If we did, ultimately Purgatory wouldn’t need our intercession : as others have said , this would amount to praying for themselves.

  2. A soul in Purgatory can no longer gain any merit. Once we leave this earth, the time to gain merit is over.

  3. The severity of penances can be mitigated through the gaining of indulgences - acts of charity, such as praying for a soul in Purgatory. So a soul who is in Purgatory and who can no longer gain merit (or indulgences), remains incapable of mitigating another’s penance or of paying satisfaction for the sins of another who is in Purgatory. They can only atone for their own.

Just as an aside, Sister Lucia of Fatima spoke of (private revelation) learning that a particular soul was in Purgatory until the end of time. So in our world of numerical order, I wonder how that would play out when contrasted against the theory that the holy souls cannot intercede for us until they get to Heaven. Wouldn’t it seem as if the holy soul most desolate and most in need of our prayers would not be able to intercede for those praying for them - that they might have some relief during their long sojourn ?

The Church has always taught that souls in purgatory can no longer pray for themselves or help themselves because the time for accruing any such merit for yourself ends when you die.
You’re judged upon death - you can’t go get extra merits after you are judged.

The person in Purgatory will get out faster and/or have a less painful or less difficult time in Purgatory than they would if no one was praying for them.

It doesn’t. God metes out justice. Think of it as God metes out justice by giving somebody the equivalent of a 500 dollar fine.
Somebody prays for the person, which is similar to paying 200 dollars of the fine.
The fine itself, the justice, didn’t change - it’s just that somebody else helped the person to pay it faster or easier.

So does it follow that more people, and praying more often would continue to decrease the suffering of the person in purgatory? If so you should spend almost all your time praying for this and recruiting as many people as possible to pray for this purpose. What could possibly compete for your time instead of doing that?

There are a lot of us who pray and offer things up for souls in Purgatory throughout the day. Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto did this. It is always good when more people join in the effort.

We also have to eat, use the bathroom, spend family time, go to work, and occasionally one wants to relax with a cat meme or Catholic Answers Forum.

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On one of the catholic graves in our local cemetery I noticed the wording
“Of your charity pray for the soul of …”
It really is a charitable act ,and there are so many reminders to pray for the holy souls.
Passing a cemetery ,reading ,listening to the news and obituary .Nearly every road I travel there are crosses where a tragic accident has taken place,and it feels an honour to say a prayer for these souls(and their families)
Passing an old dwelling,pray for all those people who have looked out that window,walked through that door.
It’s just beautiful that we can help them ,and they too can help us if only we ask.


I thought I remember in the Baltimore Catechism there was an image of direction of prayers. Obviously the Church Militant prays and helps the Church Suffering, I think I remember that there was like an arrow (which represented out prayers) which went between the souls in Purgatory.

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