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Friday, 31 October 2008

Why bother with a funeral Mass?

Our diocesan paper runs a syndicated Q & A column by the absent-minded Fr D.
You may know that I have written about him before, because he frequently neglects to include all the pertinent words when quoting from authoritative documents, and sometimes forgets to tell a simple truth that would really answer the question because he gets himself inadvertently tied up with some kind-hearted, but irrelevant, and even misleading tangent, which manages to, accidentally I am sure, imply a falsehood.
As All Souls approaches, we have this exchange:
My mother ....died recently. Since I know mom is with our heavenly Father I'm curious how a... Mass for the dead benefits such a departed soul.
So he immediately tell the author about the doctrine of purg -- well, wait, let's just see what he does have to say:
Masses my be offered for a deceased person for many reasons.
First... the intention may be to ask God's blessing and grace on that person during his or her entire life, from birth to death.

That may sound strange.... but we know God's actions are not bound by limits of time. Past, present and future, all are one eternal moment to him. [sic] By that prayer, we place ourselves in that sphere of reference of eternity. The church [sic] does this all the time. In funeral liturgies as well as some anniversary liturgies years after death, the prayers ask God to give that individual the grace of a holy and peaceful death.
He does seem to have left something out.
Hmmm.... what could it be?
From the CCC:
958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them."[498] Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

Oh, or maybe:


1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611
Oh, yeah, THAT'S the word I was trying to think of.
But judging by the fact that very few people have a need for confession any more, it's probably empty.
Since no one ever sins, no one goes there any more.
Kinda like Church...

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