November is the traditional month for praying for the dead, and there are many indulgences that may be gained for the faithful departed at this time of year. To pray for the dead is one of the spiritual works of mercy, and is the duty of all Christians.
"And making a gathering, he [Judas] 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." II Maccabees 12:43-46
Plenary indulgences are not so numerous under the Post-Vatican 2 regulations as under the previous, and the conditions seem to be rather more demanding. That isn't good news for sinners, whether living or dead! Still, here's the latest on indulgences for the dead in the month of November, taken from a newsletter of the Fraternity of St Peter.
(Current regulations in force by Pope Benedict XVI)
I On All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2) a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit any parish church or public oratory and there recite one Our Father and one Credo.
II On all the days from November 1 though November 8 inclusive, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a cemetery and pray even if only mentally for the departed.
Conditions for both indulgences:
1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.
2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by completion of the work.
3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)
4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed. One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.
6. A sacramental concession must he made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)