March 4, 2008. Many Catholics are not familiar with the
term, but “Gregorian Masses” are 30 consecutive Masses offered for
the repose of the soul of a particular person. The
practice goes back to St Gregory the Great, who ruled
the Church from 590 to 604 as its first Benedictine
Charity That Reaches Beyond the Grave
According to the fourth
book of St Gregory’s Dialogues, the practice began as an
act of charity for a slightly imperfect monk.
Gregory was abbot of a monastery, one of the monks
passed away after living a good life marked by some
imperfections in the vow of poverty. St Gregory was concerned
that this monk, named Justus, might have to suffer for
a long time in purgatory, so he ordered 30 consecutive
Masses to be said for the repose of his soul.
At the end of the 30 day period, Justus appeared
to a brother in the monastery, telling him that he
was now freed from purgatory because of the Masses that
had been said for him.
Since then, the Gregorian Masses have
been a traditional, if nowadays relatively unknown, act of charity
toward the faithful departed. The practice fell into disuse after
the social upset of the Protestant Reformation and the French
Revolution. Prior to that time, it was customary to celebrate
Gregorian Masses for the soul of each and every faithful
The Sacred Congregation on Indulgences has said that this practice
“has a special efficacy for obtaining from God the speedy
deliverance of a suffering soul, and that this is a
pious and reasonable belief of the faithful.”
There are a
number of simple requirements to gain this benefit for a
departed loved one.
- It is required that thirty consecutive Masses
be said; i.e., one per day for thirty days;
must be said on thirty consecutive days WITHOUT interruption;
can only be offered for one deceased person; not for
several and not for all the faithful departed;
- It is
not required that these Masses be said by the same
priest, but, they must be said for thirty consecutive days,
whether by one, two or more priests, all for the
Due to the serious obligation on the part
of a priest to offer the 30 Gregorian Masses without
interruption, it may be difficult to find one priest or
several priests who can make the commitment. Since diocesan priests
are often busy with special Masses such as funerals, weddings,
and the like, it is more common for people to
ask priests from religious orders to fulfill these requirements for
the soul of a loved one.
The Legion’s Mass Program
The Legionaries of Christ do offer Gregorian Masses upon request.
The Legion’s Mass program, coordinated by Mary Sill, assigns these
and other Mass requests to over 750 Legionary priests. The
usual offering for the series is $300.
About the Mass program,
Mary Sill said, “This is an opportunity for people to
give the precious gift of the holy sacrifice of the
Mass to their loved ones. It’s a source of comfort
for people to know that these Masses can be offered
for others—and for themselves—after death.”
For more information about the Legion’s
Mass program, contact Barbara DiSpirito at Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org.