Yca are the youth section of the Society of St. John Vianney

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Requiem Mass at St Gregory's, Cheltenham

Many thanks to Fr Alexander Redman for saying a Requiem Mass in the Traditional Form on Wednesday 7 November, during the Octave of the Feast of All Souls, at St Gregory’s, Cheltenham. And thanks once again to Canon Bosco MacDonald for allowing a Latin Mass to be celebrated every first Wednesday of the month at 6pm in this beautiful church.

Fr Redman gave us a beautiful homily on what we can do to help the holy souls and how they, in their turn, will help us once they attain heaven.

Fr Redman started out by describing to us the differences between an ordinary Low Mass and a Requiem Mass: the opening prayers are shorter; the opening psalms are missed out; there are fewer signs of the cross and, at the end of Mass, there is no blessing of the people. There is no Gloria, no Creed, no Alleluia. The Agnus Dei is altered. And the sequence Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) is recited and the vestments worn by the priest are a sombre black. He reminded us that the Mass is being offered up for the faithful departed and that in a Requiem Mass we are actually also giving up the blessings that we would normally receive at the end of the Mass and giving them up on behalf of the faithful departed. The Requiem Mass is a very beautiful offering of the Holy Sacrifice to God the Father for those who have gone before us.


Father went on to explain that it is very appropriate during the month of November that we pray for the dead; that it is very appropriate to pray for the dead on their anniversaries and that it is also very appropriate during the Octave of the Feast of All Souls - this very special period of eight days. From 1 November until 8 November one can obtain a plenary indulgence by making a visit to a cemetery and by receiving Holy Communion during the day and by saying the prayers laid down for the dead such as:

Eternal rest grant unto him/her (them), O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him/her (them). May he/she (they) rest in peace. Amen.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei (eis) Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei (eis). Requiéscat (Requiéscant) in pace. Amen.

Father instructed us that this is not only a good thing to do but that it is a good work. It reminds us that we can actually help people by prayer but also assist them in a practical way too. We can also help people during different times of the year by fasting for their intentions, by doing a particular work. We can help people by taking a break from our normal routine to go to a place where people are buried to pray for the dead. It is a sacrifice of our time but the holy souls are absolutely dependent on us. And we will be in their position unless we are in the state of grace and are able to be received into heaven immediately. For many of us we will end up in a place of purification; a very beautiful place; a sign of God’s mercy. The holy souls will go to heaven but at the moment they are being prepared for that place of light; that place of God’s presence; that place of the beatific vision. They are being prepared to be able to look God in the face. Father invited us to think of whether we could look God in the face; could look God in the eye and say that there is no mark of sin on our souls. 

He continued by saying that if we are spared hell, we have need of purgatory: a place of preparation. It is a sign of God’s mercy. We pray for the dead as we are told they did in the Second Book of Maccabees:

II Maccabees 12:43-46: "And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."

Father explained that it is important that we do not fear death and that it is also important that we do not take for granted going to heaven immediately. Even though we hope that family and friends who have gone before us are in heaven already, it is nevertheless important, right and good that we commend them to Almighty God. And if they are already in heaven they will pray for us and, if not, they will be grateful to us for our help. 

Fr Redman concluded with the reminder to pray for the holy souls in this month of November.

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