|Why visit a Catholic Cemetery?
A visit to a Catholic cemetery is in itself an act of religion, as is the special care of the cemetery and of the graves and niches of those who are buried there. It inspires a Catholic with reverence, awe for God’s judgments, respect for the souls of those whose bodies are buried there, with an awareness of the brevity of this earthly life, and of the union of the Church militant with the Church suffering in the mystical body of Christ. Special graces are consequently attached to silent and prayerful visits to cemeteries.
However, if Catholics love to visit cemeteries, it is especially out of a motive of charity. We long to assist the suffering souls in purgatory by our prayers, sacrifices, and Masses, given that we are united as members of the same mystical body. A physical visit to a cemetery is a great help in inciting us to this duty of charity. It is for this reason that the Church has generously enriched with her indulgences visits to cemeteries. During the eight days from November 1-8, any of the faithful can, simply by visiting a cemetery and praying for the poor souls, obtain a plenary indulgence, applicable to the poor souls in purgatory, under the usual conditions. At other times of the year this is a partial indulgence. The gaining of a plenary indulgence does not mean that one soul is freed from Purgatory, but that the power of the Church’s suffrages is added to the personal prayers and applied to the poor souls, by manner of intercession. How could we refuse to take advantage of the unlocking of the Church’s treasury, which simply depends on our visits and prayers?
Let us consequently be generous and regular with our visits to Catholic cemeteries, and let us never pass one by without stopping to recite a short prayer for the poor souls there, or at least reciting such a prayer as we go by.