WHAT ARE GREGORIAN MASSES

The Gregorian Masses are a series of thirty Masses celebrated without interruption of days for the soul of one specified person.

From this it follows that these Masses cannot be said for the living, though the living may arrange to have the Gregorian Masses said for themselves after their death. It also follows that these Masses must be said for one specified dead person, not for two or more.

The name of St. Gregory of the Great became attached to this practice in the following way. At the death of one of his monks, Justus by name, he requested another monk, named Pretiosus, to say thirty Masses in succession for the dead man. At the end of thirty days, Justus appeared to one of his brothers in religion and told him that he was delivered from the flames of Purgatory. “The religious,” said St. Gregory, “remarked that this deliverance took place on the day when the thirtieth Mass was celebrated.” Such is the origin of the Gregorian Masses.

No indulgence is attached to the Gregorian Masses as such. The faithful who ask to have them said feel confident that these Masses, either by the repetition of the expiatory power of the Holy Sacrifice, or through the Intercession of St. Gregory, have a special efficacy to secure the immediate deliverance of a soul from Purgatory.

The Church does not condemn this belief, and the Congregation of Indulgences (March 11, 1984) has declared “pious and reasonable” this confidence of the faithful. However, this declaration does not, of course, justify the considering of the Gregorian Masses as an infallible means of freeing the soul. Good Catholics will avoid all exaggeration.

The Gregorian Masses are ordinary Masses, without any commemoration of St. Gregory. The Requiem Mass is not at all obligatory, but fitting, on days when it is permitted. Nor is it required that the Masses be said at the same altar.

The special nature of the Gregorian series demands that the Masses shall be celebrated in thirty days, without interruption and on thirty different days (one Mass each day), either by the same priest or by different priests. Hence a priest cannot say more than one of the Gregorian Masses on the same day; nor can he, on Christmas, say two or three Masses of the Gregorian series. However, during the last three days of Holy Week, the series may be interrupted, provided that it is resumed on Easter Sunday.

The stipend is either the usual stipend for each Mass or a special compensation is given in the form of a larger stipend, due to the fact that the binding obligation of the Gregorian series entails considerable inconvenience. In this matter the diocesan regulations of the respective locality are to be duly observed.