We Must Pray For the Dead: It Brings Salvation to the Living and the Dead

Charles Pritchard

Satan has deceived many into thinking that purgatory does not exist and that our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ do not need our prayers. This is one of his strategies to prolong the suffering of those detained in purgatory.

By praying for the souls in purgatory, they will in turn pray for you and your loved ones, which brings more of God’s graces to earth and salvation to more souls − something that evil works hard to stop. This article provides Scriptural evidence of the truth of purgatory, as well as messages from our Triune God, Mother Mary and some souls in purgatory on this topic [1]. It concludes with a call to prayer for the suffering souls in purgatory.

A Scriptural perspective of purgatory

Jesus came to free us from our bondage to sin and through his sacrifice, gives us the grace and opportunity to repent and purify on earth. However, if we ignore his call on earth, we will enter eternity in a defiled state. Revelation 21:27 tells us that nothing defiled can enter heaven. Most people who die are not in a state of grace and if they are repentant when they see the truth, by God’s grace and mercy, after their judgement they will need to be purified before entering heaven:

“But thou hast taught thy people by such works, that they must be just and humane, and hast made thy children to be of a good hope: because in judging thou givest place for repentance for sins.” (Wisdom 12:19)

Both the New and Old Testament confirm that impure souls who die will “suffer loss” before being “loosed of their sins” and saved “as if by fire” with the “spirit of burning”:

“If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” (Isaiah 4:4)

“If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15)

The Jews have always had a tradition of offering sacrifice and prayer for the dead so that they can be freed of their sins, as found in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus:

“All the most valiant men arose, and walked all the night, and took the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, from the wall of Bethsan: and they came to Jabes Galaad, and burnt them there: And they took their bones and buried them in the wood of Jabes: and fasted seven days.” (1 Samuel 31:12-13)

“And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead), And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Maccabees 12:43–46)

A gift hath grace in the sight of all the living, and restrain not grace from the dead.” (Ecclesiasticus 7:37)

Praying for the souls in purgatory has also always been a part of the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church, which was founded by Christ [2]. In the New Testament we see that St Paul prayed for his deceased friend Onesiphorus:

“The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou very well knowest.” (2 Timothy 1:18)

At the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus spoke of heaven and hell, and also referred to being judged and cast into prison until the last farthing is repaid:

“… and thou be cast into prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.” (Matthew 5:25)

In this instance, Jesus was not talking about earthly prison, instead, he was referring to being in the purgatorial prison where we are cleansed, purged, of our sins before entering heaven. After Jesus died, he descended to the dead to those spirits that were in this same prison to preach to them and to release them into heaven:

“Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison: Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18–20)

These imprisoned spirits were not in hell, but in purgatory, because they had for some time been incredulous, but repented at their death.

A perspective of purgatory from souls in purgatory who visited Sister M de L.C. [3]

A soul in purgatory gives some insights into what to expect in purgatory to Sister M de L.C., and why our earthly crosses must be embraced in love of God:

“When the soul leaves the body it is as if it were lost in or, if I may say so, surrounded by God. It finds itself in such a bewildering light that in the twinkling of an eye it sees its whole life spread out, and at this sight, it sees what it deserves, and this same light pronounces its sentence. The soul does not see God but is annihilated in his presence. If the soul is guilty as I was and, therefore, deserves to go to purgatory, it is so crushed by the weight of the faults that still remain to be blotted out, that it hurls itself into purgatory.

“Each day thousands of souls come to purgatory and most of them remain thirty to forty years [4], some for longer periods, others for shorter. I tell you all this in terms of earthly calculations because here it is quite different. Oh, if people only knew and understood what purgatory is and what it means to know that we are here through our own fault. I have been here eight years and it seems to me like ten thousand.

“The fire of purgatory is a purification prescribed by God's justice and that (fire) of the earth is very mild compared to that of purgatory. It is a shadow compared to the furnace of Divine Justice... Yes, I suffer very much, but my greatest torment is not seeing God. It is a continuous martyrdom. It makes me suffer more than does the fire of purgatory.

“Lives lived without love for God will have to be atoned for here in purgatory with intense sufferings. Whilst on earth, they did not profit by the mercy of God, but lived merely for the sake of the body. Now to regain their first splendour, they have to make satisfaction to the last farthing [5]. That is what happens to indifferent souls. For souls of greater guilt, it is far worse. Try to love God now so much that you will not have to come here in order to learn how to love him through sufferings which are without merit. The sufferings and trials on earth are meritorious, therefore, do not lose one of them – but above all, love. Love wipes out many faults and makes one avoid them so as not to give pain to the One we love. That is why a soul that really loves Jesus is constantly on its guard to avoid everything that would grieve his Divine Heart. There are many souls in purgatory depending on you to deliver them from this place of suffering. Pray with all your heart for them. To be a friend of Jesus on earth entails suffering of body and soul. The more he loves a soul, the more he shares with it the sorrow he endured for us. Happy is the soul thus privileged. What an opportunity for merit! That is the short cut to heaven. So do not shun suffering, rather welcome it, since it unites you more intimately with him, whom you truly love. Have I not told you before that love makes everything sweet? Sorrows appear bitter because you do not love enough. The infallible means of arriving quickly at close union with Jesus is love, but love united to suffering. You have had up to this time many crosses and yet you do not love them as Jesus wants you to.”

Another soul, a nun who died in 1871, gives additional insight to Sister de L.C. [6]:

“I can tell you about the different degrees of purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, it is like a temporary hell, and here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with this difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless him and thank him for having saved us. Next to these come the souls, who though they did not commit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God. They did not fulfil their Easter duties and were also converted at the point of death. Many were unable to receive Holy Communion. They are in purgatory for the long years of indifference. They suffer unheard of pains and are abandoned either without prayers or if they are said for them, they are not allowed to profit by them. There are in this stage of purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instil the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care. I was in this stage of purgatory. 

“In the second purgatory are the souls of those who died with venial sins not fully expiated before death, or with mortal sins that have been forgiven but for which they have not made entire satisfaction to the Divine Justice. In this part of purgatory, there are also different degrees according to the merits of each soul. Thus the purgatory of the consecrated souls or of those who have received more abundant graces, is longer and far more painful than that of ordinary people of the world. 

“Lastly, there is the purgatory of desire which is called the Threshold. Very few escape this. To avoid it altogether, one must ardently desire heaven and the vision of God. That is rare, rarer than people think, because even pious people are afraid of God and have not, therefore, a sufficiently strong desire of going to Heaven. This purgatory has its very painful martyrdom like the others. The deprivation of the sight of our loving Jesus adds to the intense suffering.” (November, 1873)

According to another soul in purgatory:

“We are in the state of being unable to satisfy our longings. Oh, what a suffering that is, but we desire it and there is no murmuring against God here. We desire only what God wants. You on earth, however, cannot possibly understand what we have to endure. I am much relieved as I am no longer in the fire. I have now only the insatiable desire to see God, a suffering cruel enough indeed, but I feel that the end of my exile is at hand and that I am soon to leave this place where I long for God with all my heart. I know it well, I feel more at ease, but I cannot tell you the day or the hour of my release. God alone knows that. It may be that I have still many years of longing for heaven. Continue to pray; I will repay you later on, though I do pray a great deal for you now.” (August 1878)

Heaven’s call for the souls in purgatory

Today, Father God and Jesus Christ through Jesus’ End of Times Messenger, Fernanda de Sequeira, have given us much insight into purgatory, the importance of praying for the dead and offering Masses up for them. Some of the extracts of these messages are included here [7]:

“My little one, I have told you before: Holy Mass is very essential as my people come to eternal life. The souls in purgatory and the most abandoned ones for whom no one is praying: these souls are in anguish to contact their loved ones, asking them to release them from purgatory. The souls of purgatory are thirsty for their salvation to come to heaven. It is very painful to see the many souls waiting for a prayer to bring them closer to heaven. Gregorian Masses are a very powerful weapon for the souls as they come to eternal life. Very few of my people remember to offer this Mass for their loved ones. You can offer for any person: it need not be for your loved ones. If my people can offer this Mass for anyone, it is an act of love; pray the Rosary for the souls of their loved ones and family, for the souls of purgatory and the most abandoned ones.

“When my people are judged in front of my throne it is a very painful time for my Son Jesus Christ, for us here in heaven. When they are condemned for eternal life in damnation of sins, very little help comes to save their souls. My Son Jesus’ Sacred Heart bleeds for the salvation of all of his children, seeing them being condemned for all eternity, until my Son Jesus’ Second Coming, to judge the living and the dead.

“I repeat: offer Holy Masses and pray Rosaries, Divine Mercy Chaplets, other prayers for the souls of purgatory and the prayers given to you to pray for the souls of purgatory. Pray, pray. These souls cannot pray for themselves but they can pray for you, for your intentions on earth. When these souls reach heaven, they won’t stop praying for you.

“My little Petal, the souls of purgatory (and the most abandoned ones) desire to be purified, and then they can see the Face of God, their Creator. This is the purification that my people encounter in eternity.

“My people must amend their sins, lead a plain, steadfast and faithful life. They must repent before it is too late because they don’t know the time, the hour, of their last breath on earth. My people live their earthly lives enjoying themselves: richness and status are their priorities. Oh, they forget the most essential thing on earth is to pray for their salvation, to offer Masses to be said for them while they are alive − this Holy Mass is more powerful for them than the ones said after their death.

“My children, listen to my solemn words. Assist my Son Jesus in Holy Mass, attentively read the Holy Bible, fasting is essential and so is Mass for you while on this earth. Don’t let yourself be in purgatory or in damnation of sin in hell for all eternity. Take care of your soul as you take care of your daily food, drink or other enjoyment.” (Father God, 08/03/2016)

“My child, I, your Jesus, I want to convey to you, to ask you to pray the prayer request given to you for the souls in purgatory. That prayer will save 1,000 souls every time you or my children recite it. Do not forget or neglect this prayer request for your deceased family and friends. Those prayers have been given to you from me and my Father to save them. My child, help these souls to be saved... My Petal, pray always for these souls. You can ask them to intercede for you or for some petition. They will intercede to us in heaven. Know that these souls cannot pray for themselves but they can pray or intercede to you for anything that you ask of them. Relay and explain this to my children.” (Jesus Christ, 12/03/2012)

“It is very painful when my children come to eternal life with all of these sins in their dark hearts. Oh, the purification in eternal life is very painful to watch my children suffer. Oh, that is why I ask to pray for the souls in purgatory, the souls in waiting of their salvation. Oh, my Son and I suffer to see our children going through this kind of suffering. Oh, if only my children would listen and pay attention to all of my Son’s commandments and teachings.” (Mother Mary, 23/05/2011)

“My child, I, your Mother Mary, I confide this to you, for you to transmit to my children: on Good Friday and this Easter Sunday, I, your Mother, Star of the Sea, went to the entrance of purgatory with St Michael to set free many souls who were awaiting their release into heaven. Oh, there are so many souls thirsting to see the face of God. Many of these souls were released because of my children on earth praying for them and for the most abandoned ones that no one prays for. Oh, it was so beautiful to see these souls go up to heaven. If only my children on earth would see how grateful these souls are for your prayers, then you, my children, would turn more to prayer for these souls. Oh, the souls of purgatory, they are waiting and thirsting for your prayers. My children, pray for them. These souls in turn will pray and intercede for you, your loved ones and your family. Do not neglect the souls in purgatory. Remember, amongst these souls are many of your loved ones and family, who are waiting for you to remember them in your prayers. You, my children, are their hope in helping them to be released on these special days, or any time of the year.” (Mother Mary, 27/03/2016)

According to Maria Simma, who devoted most of her life to praying for the souls in purgatory and who received many visits from them, the biggest complaint from the souls in purgatory is that their family members abandon them and don’t pray for them [8]. We must therefore encourage everyone to pray for the dead, in particular for the most abandoned souls in purgatory for whom no one is praying. Parents should teach their children to do the same: they may just need their prayers in eternity one day.

Offering up graces for the dead

As Father God explains above, the most powerful grace that can be offered to souls in purgatory is to offer up Holy Masses for them. In addition to Holy Masses, Rosaries, Stations of the Cross and other devotional prayers [9] coupled with fasting bring them much alleviation of suffering and quicker entry into heaven.

In addition, Divine Mercy Chaplets are also especially powerful for dying souls, where our Lord Jesus promised special graces at the moment of death to St Faustina:

"It pleases me to grant everything souls ask of me by saying the Chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one. Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realises the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust, let it throw itself into the arms of my mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother. Tell them no soul that has called upon my mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul that has placed its trust in my goodness. Write that when they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between my father and the dying person, not as the just judge but as the merciful Saviour." (Diary, 1541)

"I desire that this mercy flow out upon the whole world through your heart. Let no one who approaches you go away without that trust in my mercy, which I so ardently desire for souls. Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in my mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least." (Diary, 1777)

No doubt, those who pray for the dead will receive a pleasant surprise one day in heaven when they see the fruits of their prayers and make acquaintance with those whom they, through the merits of Christ’s sacrifice and theirs, helped get to heaven.


[1] Some saints and visionaries, who devoted their lives to praying for the souls in purgatory, received visits from these souls, which God permitted to help them get to heaven. See the documented stories of Maria Simma, Eugenie von der Leyen, Sister M de L.C, as well as many other saints who received visits from these souls, including St Padre Pio, Blessed Henry Suso, St Gemma Galgani, St Catherine of Genoa, St John Bosco, St Christina of Belgium and St Bridget. More information can be found on www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2012/04/amazing-stories-from-purgatory-and.html.

[2] In addition to the official teachings of the Catholic Church, archaeological findings confirm that the tombs of early Christians had requests for prayer on behalf of the deceased persons inscribed on them.

[3] From An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory containing a collection of conversations of a certain Sr. M. de L. C. with a soul in purgatory, which took place in the late 1800s. Her name was kept anonymous in the manuscript to protect the nun’s identity because she was still alive when the manuscript was published.

[4] Maria Simma (who received similar visits from souls in purgatory) confirmed an average stay of 40 years in purgatory in her book “Get Us Out of Here!”, Medjugorje Web (2002).

[5] Recall Matthew 5:25 “… And thou be cast into prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.”

[8] See “Get Us Out of Here!” by Maria Simma, Medjugorje Web (2002), in which Maria Simma speaks with Nicky Eltz.

[9] See “Prayers for the Dying and the Dead” in the “Prayers” section of www.alpha-omega.org.za.