The Importance of Funeral Masses

10-24-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

As All Souls Day (November 2) approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to our loved ones who died over the years, and to all the faithful departed. All Souls Day, and the whole month of November, is a special time for Catholics to pray for all those who have died. It is our firm belief that God can and does use our prayers to help our loved ones get to Heaven.

That said, I want to turn my attention to the most important prayer we can offer for someone who dies, the Funeral Mass. The Holy Mass is the most powerful prayer we have, thus the Funeral Mass is the most powerful prayer we can offer for a loved one who has died. While other prayers, such as those said at the Funeral Home during the Wake or at the graveside before burial, are also important, they pale in comparison to the Funeral Mass.

I write this because it seems that a growing number of Catholics are being buried without a Funeral Mass. On many occasions, our priests are asked simply to ‘say a few words’ or conduct a brief service at the Funeral Home or cemetery when someone dies. While there may at times be good reason for this, it should never be considered the norm for a Catholic Funeral.

The importance of the Funeral Mass is probably best understood by considering what Catholics belief about death. We believe that a person who dies with God’s forgiveness and in His grace may still have some attachments to sin from which they need to be purified. This process of purification is what we call purgatory, during which God ‘purges’ any imperfection for a person’ssoul.

In His great love for us, God allows us to assist our departed brothers and sisters through this process by means of our prayers. Being the Sacrifice of Christ Himself, made present in an unbloody manner upon the altar, the Holy Mass is by far the best prayer by which we can help our loved ones through purgatory and into Heaven. This is why we get Mass Cards (to have Masses said for our loved ones), and it’s why the Funeral Mass is the most important part of a Catholic Funeral

Indeed, the Funeral Mass is so important that our parish asks no offering or fee for it. All that is asked is that the family cover the cost of the music for the Funeral Mass, a cost that we will gladly waive if it is any kind of hardship. No one will ever be denied a Funeral Mass in this Church for a financial reason. The Funeral Mass is much too important.

Please know that I don’t want to make any family that did not have a Funeral Mass for a loved one feel badly. My guess is that you either had a good reason or were simply unaware of the importance of a Funeral Mass. In such a case, why not list the names of your loved ones on your All Souls envelope, so they will be included in the All Souls Novena of Masses. You could also take a Mass intention on any day that a Mass is available in our Church, as someone does when they get a Mass Card. The standard offering, again an optional one, is $10. While such a Mass is not a Funeral Mass per se, it still has all the merits of the Holy Mass and, as such, is a powerful prayer for your loved one. You may notice that I have such Masses said for all the deceased pastors of this Church on the anniversary of their deaths and for all the priests who served in this parish on Holy Thursday. It is a way in which our parish continues to offer the powerful prayer of the Holy Mass for those priests who served here over the years.

Finally, know that our parish offers a special Mass on All Souls Day at 7 PM each year. This Mass is offered for all of our parishioners who died in the past year. It is one way we try to make sure that each of them has the Holy Mass offered for them.

Please remember the importance of the Funeral Mass when arranging or pre-arranging a loved one’s Funeral. Remember it is the most important and powerful part of a Catholic Funeral, and does a great deal to help our loved ones on their way to Heaven.

Please also remember to pray that daily Hail Mary for me and be assured of my prayers for you.

Have a great week!
Fr. John