In the United States, Mass is annually celebrated on open-air altars at local cemeteries to pray for fallen soldiers.
Memorial Day is a national holiday in the United States, when Americans visit cemeteries to pay their respects to family members and friends who died in battle.
Special Memorial Day services are often held at these cemeteries, and sometimes Catholic priests will celebrate Mass at the cemetery.
This has become an ongoing tradition in many parts of the country for nearly a century. These Masses are celebrated either at portable altars that are brought in, or on permanent structures that were designed for the celebration of Mass at the cemetery.
It is a consoling way to honor these courageous soldiers, and reminds us that our prayers are valuable and can assist the souls in purgatory.
The tradition of celebrating Mass for the deceased near their graves dates back to the first few centuries of Christianity.
The first martyrs of the persecutions in Rome, buried in underground catacombs outside the city wall, were honored with the celebration of the Mass, with the tombs of the dead servings as altars.
It is fitting, then, to offer Mass in a cemetery, connecting ourselves spiritually to those first Christians in Rome.