1. Just as we pray for others here on earth, we are encouraged by the Church to pray for souls who may be in purgatory. Why? We are all in need of grace to come into the perfection of charity. We cannot enter heaven if we have not been completely cleansed of sin and all punishment due to sin. cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1031 and 1472.
Since the Mass is the “source and summit” of the Christian Life, we naturally look to that Holy Sacrifice of Christ, containing the perfect prayer, to offer for our deceased relatives and friends who may still need the help of our prayers. Priests are under a strict obligation to remember in a special way the person for whom the Mass is being offered. The intention for the Mass is listed in the bulletin.
We can’t really speak of “time” since the deceased person has entered eternity, but we can speak in terms of “final purification” before entrance into heaven. We believe that a Mass offered for a departed relative or friend may help hasten that final purification which he/she may still be undergoing in purgatory.
2. The great Doctor of the Church, St. Anselm, declares that a single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after your death. The merit of the Masses we have offered for ourselves during life will obtain for us a higher degree of glory in Heaven, since we have made the meritorious sacrifice of offering the stipend for the Mass. After death, this is impossible for us.
Masses offered during our life will go before us, to either cancel our debt – whole or in part, of the punishment due for our sins; thus, it may greatly shorten our Purgatory.
Masses offered for us during our life can help us obtain the great grace of a happy and holy death. The most beautiful gift one can give to another person is a Spiritual Bouquet of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No material gift can ever compare to or equal the Infinite Value of the Holy Mass.
Especially efficacious is having the Holy Sacrifice offered for hardened sinners and those who are dying.
Masses may be offered in reparation for the outrages, offenses and blasphemies against Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and insults to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Masses may be offered in thanksgiving for our blessings, family, health and answer to prayers is very pleasing to the Most Blessed Trinity.
Masses for our departed loved ones and all the Holy Souls in Purgatory is a great act of charity, efficacious and meritorious.
Do not delay, then, to have Masses offered for yourself and your family, living and dead, TODAY, NOW! Use the Infinite Treasure of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass NOW! Do not leave it to the uncertain future and to those who survive you.
3. Gregorian Masses are thirty Masses said at any altar for thirty consecutive days for the deliverance of a certain soul from Purgatory. The pious practice of having these Masses celebrated for the deliverance of the souls from Purgatory was not first introduced by Saint Gregory the Great, who was sovereign Pontiff from 590 to 604, but precedes his time. However, they are called Gregorian Masses because St. Gregory contributed to the spread of this pious practice. In his Dialogues the Saint tells us that he caused to be said thirty Masses on thirty consecutive days for the repose of the soul of Justus, a monk who had died in the convent of St. Andrew in Rome. At the end of the thirtieth Mass, the deceased appeared to his brother, Copusoos, who had assisted him as a physician in his last illness, and announced that he had been delivered from the flames of Purgatory. In their “Lives of the Saints” the Bollandists tell us that on the thirtieth day Saint Gregory himself was assured of the deliverance of the soul of Justus. And an inscription in the church of SS. Andrew and Gregory, which Rome erected on the spot of the dwelling of the holy Pontiff, confirms the fact. Saint Gregory, as we read of his life, was also instructed by God Himself in the efficacy of these thirty Masses and he recommended the practice on various occasions.
4. In the life of St. Vincent Ferrer, we read that he had thirty consecutive Masses celebrated for his deceased sister and saw her delivered from Purgatory. Pope Benedict XIII lauded this pious practice of having thirty Masses said for each soul that has departed from this life. In Italy, France, Spain, Germany and especially England, which was converted by missionaries sent by St. Gregory, it was an established custom previous to the Reformation and the French Revolution, to have thirty consecutive Masses said for each departed soul. In a number of old churches in Europe, altars dedicated to St. Gregory and the Poor Souls are to be found. Many old paintings are still preserved attesting the same fact. Several Religious Orders have it specified in their rules and Constitutions that thirty Gregorian Masses are to be said for every deceased member. The Carmelites, Dominicans, Nuns of the Visitation, and others follow this practice. A very old edition of the Dominican Missal contains special prayers for the Gregorian Masses.
5. We hear stories of people who have been healed in body and we are in awe! We seldom consider how much Jesus does to heal souls suffering on earth and more so the souls suffering in Purgatory, a place which none of us have seen and to which many of us could go.
We do not stop to think about the physical and spiritual healing through the Eucharist. Today, many are discovering how the Eucharist for the deceased also heals the living as they come into deeper relationship with Jesus. Dr. Kenneth McCall has over 1000 cases of emotional or physical healing occurring with clients by offering a Mass for their deceased loved ones. The Mass heals the living and the dead!
The power of prayer is grabbing the headlines. An Arizona journal reports that “intercessory prayer” produced measurable improvement in the medical outcome of critically ill patients. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest act of worship and the highest form of prayer. St. John Chrysostom says, “Christ is the victim that gives solace to the dead.”
So what are you doing for our dear deceased loved ones? Who do you miss the most? Who do you wish you could have done more for in their life? Who hurt you? Who helped you the most spiritually or temporally? Have a Mass offered for them! The Council of Trent tells us, “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Perpetual Sacrifice, is the greatest of all suffrages for the Holy Souls.”
We have an opportunity to help our deceased loved ones and our missionaries spread the Gospel and bring the Eucharist to God’s beloved poor. And what a marvelous time to do this spiritual work of mercy! The Eucharist is the source and summit of all Christian life. Let us be missionaries of the Eucharist for the holy souls languishing in Purgatory.