Recently, as I returned from my four day shift from Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre precisely on my room door I found an enveloppe. And, after opening it I found a card saying it is a Special Mass Remembrance.
As I opened it, at the Centre, I found this written: A Special Gift of Prayer is bestowed to Dearest Father Mario Attard OFM Cap. Then, further down, there was the name of the person who kindly sent me this gift. I really appreciated it since in Malta, my native country, we are no accustomed to do this. We normally offer the Masses for the decease, although there are few people who would offer a Mass for the living too.
As I researched the Internet to get more information regarding offering a Mass for a loved one I must say that I was really blessed. I found some five learning tips that really helped me appreciate and practice more this holy custom of offering Masses for the living. First, it doesn’t cost anything…but if you’re able to give, an offering is appreciated. Pope Francis was very that the Mass is free of charge. In his general audience of Wednesday 7 March 2018 Pope Francis said: I have someone, relatives, friends, who are in need or have departed from this world to the other, I can name them at that time, interiorly and silently, or write the name so it may be said aloud. “Father, how much do I have to pay to have my name said there?” — “Nothing”. Is this understood? Nothing! One does not pay for Mass. Mass is Christ’s sacrifice, which is freely given. Redemption is freely given. If you want to make an offering, do so, but it is not paid for. It is important to understand this.
Thus, an offering is simply given from a person’s free decision. Redemption is free of charge. The website Catholic online says: “There is no price tag on the Mass, however, it is customary to give an offering when requesting a Mass for an intention. That said, money should never be the reason for deciding against this beautiful tradition. Simply make your request known and talk with a priest who will make sure that a Mass is able to be said if your financial situation does not allow for a donation. It doesn’t have to be a large sum. The Seraphic Mass Association, for example, suggests a donation of just ten dollars per Mass”.
To broaden up the discussion the Bible says: Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Cor 9:13-14). And, in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians we find: For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. (2 Thess 3:7-12).
Second, a Mass can be offerred for a living person. Regarding the sacrifice of the Mass the Council of Trent tells us when it deals on the Sacrifice of the Mass in its second chapter:
And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreebly to a tradition of the apostles.
A living person always greatly benefits from a Mass celebrated for his and her behalf.
Third, a Mass is celebrated also as a way of showing gratitude to God or for prayers that have been answered. This makes sense because, as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says about the celebrating community, the Church: It is a people called to bring to God the prayers of the entire human family, a people giving thanks in Christ for the mystery of salvation by offering his Sacrifice.
Fourth, it is easy to request a Mass. A simple phone call, a text message or through any other means of social communication is enough to request for a Mass.
Finally, since the Mass is the apex kind of Worship on earth because we become one with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary in worship to the Father it is essential emphasize what St Pope John Paul II said in his last encyclical on the Eucharist in its relationship to the Church, Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant His children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ. In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift, the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of His Bride and joins it to His own redemptive sacrifice (No. 43).
Let us remember what the saints tell us about the Mass
The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer (St Pope Paul VI).
It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass (St Pio of Pietrelcina).
The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross (St Thomas Aquinas).
There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us (St John Mary Vianney).
Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know…It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! (St Pio of Pietrelcina).
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life (St Pope John Paul II).
Who is Jesus to me? Jesus is the Word made Flesh. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the cross. Jesus is the sacrifice offered at holy Mass for the sins of the world and for mine. Jesus is the Word – to be spoken. Jesus is the Truth – to be told. Jesus is the Way – to be walked. Jesus is the Light – to be lit. Jesus is the Life – to be lived. Jesus is the Love – to be loved (St Teresa of Calcutta).
When the Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels, who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar (St John Chrysostom).
A single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death (St Anselm of Canterbury).
When I immersed myself in prayer and united myself with all the Masses that were being celebrated all over the world at that time, I implored God, for the sake of all these Holy Masses, to have mercy on the world and especially on poor sinners who were dying at that moment. At the same instant, I received an interior answer from God that a thousand souls had received grace through the prayerful mediation I had offered to God. We do not know the number of souls that is ours to save through our prayers and sacrifices; therefore, let us always pray for sinners (Mary Faustina Kowalska).
And if Mass is all this how can we not offer it for each other, for our living human beings who are undergoing all sorts of life challenges at the moment?
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap