Having a Mass offered for a deceased friend or family member every year can be comforting to those who are still grieving.
Besides visiting the grave of a deceased friend or family member on the anniversary of their death, having a Mass offered for that person can be a consoling way to honor them. It reminds us that our prayers are valuable and can have an effect on someone in purgatory.
How can we help the souls in purgatory?
When a priest celebrates Mass each day, he offers each celebration of the Eucharist for a particular person or intention. By doing so he applies special graces from God to that person or intention.
It is an ancient tradition, narrated most eloquently in St. Augustine’s Confessions (c. 397), where Monica asks Augustine, “One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord.”
Fr. William Saunders also explains, “Inscriptions discovered on tombs in Roman catacombs of the second century [give] evidence [for] this practice: for example, the epitaph on the tomb of Abercius (d. 180), Bishop of Hieropolis in Phrygia, begs for prayers for the repose of his soul. Tertullian (c. 200) attested to observing the anniversary of a spouse with prayers and sacrifices, i.e. the Mass.”
We can do this as well, not only with our personal offering of the Mass, but also by contacting our local parish or priest and requesting a Mass to be said on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing.
It’s not always possible to have a Mass said every year on the same date, as there are other people in the parish who have similar anniversaries that they keep. However, we can do what we can to honor the memory of our family and friends by interceding for them with the Mass, the most powerful prayer we have.
Whatever we do on that anniversary, let us not forget to pray for and connect ourselves spiritually to those people we hope to see again in eternal life.