GIRM 379-381: Masses for the Dead

Catholics do foster that connection with the dead. It’s a good thing for those on Earth, as it affords a ministry of comfort and reflection.

379. The Church offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ’s Pasch for the dead so that, since all the members of Christ’s Body are in communion with one another, what implores spiritual help for some, may bring comforting hope to others.

380. Among the Masses for the Dead, the Funeral Mass holds first place. It may be celebrated on any day except for Solemnities that are Holydays of Obligation, Thursday of Holy Week (Holy Thursday), the Paschal Triduum, and the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, with due regard also for all the other requirements of the norm of the law.[Cf. particularly Canon Law 1176-1185; Rituale Romanum, Order of Christian Funerals]

Do you know and have you experienced Masses for the Dead outside of a funeral liturgy? Such as on these occasions:

381. A Mass for the Dead, on receiving the news of a death, for the final burial, or the first anniversary, may be celebrated even on days within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), on days when an Obligatory Memorial occurs, and on weekdays other than Ash Wednesday or the weekdays of Holy Week.

Other Masses for the Dead or “daily” Masses, may be celebrated on weekdays in Ordinary Time on which Optional Memorials occur or when the Office is of the weekday, provided such Masses are actually applied for the dead.

My own personal experience with a “later” celebration was at the time of my father’s death. It wasn’t a Mass, as my father wasn’t Catholic, nor did I want to impose on the parish’s liturgical calendar. A staff colleague organized a celebration of the Office for the Dead. That began the process of closure for me, some two months after my dad died. I don’t know how many believers, liturgists, and clergy take advantage of the possibilities for that first anniversary. What about in your parish?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to GIRM 379-381: Masses for the Dead

  1. Karl says:

    My only experience with this is the traditional monthsmind Mass, though those are not necessarily offered using the votive propers for a Mass for the Dead.

  2. FrMichael says:

    Immigrants are often buried in the country-of-origin. So a Mass of the Dead is conducted here, sometimes before shipment, sometimes after the family returns from the burial abroad. Maybe a bimonthly thing at my parish.

  3. At my work parish, we practice month’s mind, something we instituted during the past year. It has been well received. In so very many ways, this parish handles death and its recollection well – in fact as I was working with a family on funeral planning yesterday, I thought to myself that I should write more about what we do. The pastor is very gifted in this area and there is a significant lay ministry that has sprung forth from this.

    The Office for the Dead is not something that I have much experience with. I appreciate hearing your experience and perspective.

  4. FrMichael says:

    Never heard of monthmind: could either Karl (Karl = Liam, yes?) or Fran kindly share what that is.

    Very common around here is the 40th day remembrance, of colonial Spanish origin. It is a common practice to Hispanics, Filipinos, and Chomorros.

    • Liam says:

      Month’s mind mass = a memorial Mass on the 30th day (or one month) after death or burial/interment. Very old school.

      I go by Karl, Liam and Karl Liam – I realize now that, due to a wipe out on WordPress, I auto-renamed here. Liam is my old handle going back over a decade; its pen name that goes back to when people in my family adopted Irish names to balance our German names in recognition of our dual ancestry (we never got around to Polish names because that ancestry was a matter of mystery until 2007, but it turns out my maternal Irish grandmother married a fellow who was born in or new Grajewo in what is now NE Poland (then Russian-occupied Poland). I normally like to use Liam where I can because of the brand-continuity I established over many years.

  5. Yes, month’s mind is very old school, but it has been well received and much loved at our parish. This is not done as a mercenary act, but it is part of a very small movement of how death and funeral rituals return people to the church.

    The comfort that our people have felt is palpable and that matters.

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