FRIENDS OF THE SUFFERING SOULS
WHAT ARE THEY?
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.
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.
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RULES FOR THE CELEBRATION
of GREGORIAN MASSES
These rules may be gathered from the following questions put to the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences regarding the celebration of Gregorian Masses and the answers given to them. (March 15, 1884; August 24, 1888; January 14, 1889. Also Benedict XIV, inst. 34, No. 22).
Q. Is the confidence of the faithful in the thirty Masses called Gregorian, as speedily efficacious by the Divine Mercy, for the deliverance of a soul from Purgatory, pious, approved and reasonable?
Q. Is it necessary that the Masses called Gregorian be celebrated in memory of Saint Gregory, without, however, making commemoration of the Saint?
A. They need not be said in memory of St. Gregory.
Q. Must the thirty Masses called Gregorian be said by the same priest?
A. There is no obligation for them to be said by the same priest.
Q. Must they be said for one soul alone, without any other intention?
A. The Masses should be said exclusively for the soul whose deliverance from the pains of Purgatory is especially solicited from the Divine Mercy.
Q. Should they be said on thirty consecutive days without interruption?
A. Yes, for thirty days without interruption.
Q. If the Gregorian Masses fall in the course of the Triduum does it constitute an interruption.?
A. It does not, provided the celebration of the thirty Masses be resumed on Easter Sunday.
Q. Must they be said on the same altar?
A. No, they may be said on different altars.
Q. Must they be said at a privileged altar?
A. It is not necessary.
Q. Must the Requiem Mass be said, at least when the Rubric permits it?
A. Although it would seem proper, it is not an essential condition. The obligation is satisfied by saying the Mass of the day.
Q. May the Gregorian Masses be offered for the livinq?
A. No, they cannot be said for the living, but exclusively for departed souls.
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HOW TO ARRANGE GREGORIAN MASSES
There is no need to follow these instructions to arrange such Masses. You can do so with any priest who is willing or able to say them for you for a soul nominated by you. But for your convenience we list here two available resources which you can use if you want to do so.
FOR NOVUS ORDO
Go to the website: www.spiritualtreasury.com where you can arrange over the net to have a set of Gregorian Masses said for a particular souls. The stipend expected here is $130US, which is very generous considering how difficult these Masses are to say.
You can also try:
In Australia Gregorian Masses may be arranged through
Aid To The Church In Need
PO Box 6245
BLACKTOWN NSW 2148
and they will arrange these Masses for a stipend of $400Aus.
FOR TRIDENTINE RITE
Rev. Father Matthew Shapiro, OSB,
Annunciation Monastery at Clear Creek,
5804 W. Monastery Road ,
In the case of the Tridentine Masses the stipend expected is $300US .
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