Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Requiem Mass

Tridentine Community News (October 31, 2010):
The Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass provides many opportunities throughout the year for special Masses to be celebrated for the faithful departed. All of these take the form of a Requiem Mass, a slightly shortened form of the regular Mass, optionally followed by the ceremony of Absolution, the blessing of the body. The black-framed altar cards and the thin black altar missals you see, and the Silver Missals for the congregation are specially designed for the unique aspects of the Requiem Mass. The missals include the ceremonies before and after Mass.

The first and primary form of Requiem is the Funeral Mass. The ceremony begins with prayers and chants accompanying the formal reception of the body at the door of the church. Holy Mass follows, at the end of which is the ceremony of Absolution, which is conducted at the casket if the body is present, or at a Catafalque if the body is not present. A Catafalque is a structure resembling a casket that stands in for the deceased person. A black pall (cloth) covers the casket or Catafalque, and six candles surround it. Finally, there is the optional concluding blessing given at the gravesite or other place of final disposition of the body. The ceremonies of the Funeral Mass were described in detail in our September 2, 2007 column, which is available on-line at the web site listed at the bottom of this page.

The Masses of All Souls Day are the second form of Requiem. The Church provides three separate sets of Mass Propers for All Souls Day and has long permitted her priests to celebrate three Masses that day instead of the usual two. This Tuesday, St. Josaphat will offer a Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form. Assumption-Windsor will offer the traditional three Masses of All Souls, the first two of which will be Low Masses celebrated at the side altars; the third will be a Solemn High Mass at the high altar, followed by Absolution at the Catafalque.

In the third place, there is the Daily Mass for the Dead, more commonly referred to as a Memorial Requiem Mass. At both St. Josaphat on Mondays at 7:00 PM, and Assumption-Windsor on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, you may request a Requiem Mass to be celebrated for your departed friends and family. The intention can be for one or multiple people, as there are Propers to accommodate either option. Requiem Masses are permitted on weekday Ferias of the Fourth Class outside of Christmastide; please consult a (Tridentine) Liturgical Calendar to see the dates on which these occur. Use the regular Mass intention request form and indicate that you wish a Requiem Mass. You may request Absolution at the end of Mass for an additional stipend of $10. These will ordinarily be Low Masses, however at Assumption we offer the option of a High (chanted) Requiem Mass for an additional stipend of $40.

Format of the Daily Mass for the Dead

The priest wears a black chasuble, somberly ornamented. Black is the liturgical color for everything except the ciborium veils, which should be white; the chalice pall, which should be white or violet; and the tabernacle veil, which should be violet. Our Lord is ever-living; our most penitential color cannot be used in conjunction with the Blessed Sacrament.

As in Passiontide, Psalm 42 (Júdica me) is skipped; the Prayers At the Foot Of the Altar go from the Introíbo directly into the Confíteor. The altar servers’ liturgical kisses are omitted. There is no Glória, as that joyful hymn would be out of place. Between the readings, the choir chants the best-known part of the Classic Requiem Mass, the Sequence Dies Iræ, which begins:
“Day of wrath, O Day of mourning, Lo the world in ashes burning: Seer and Sibyl gave the warning.
O what fear man’s bosom rendeth, When from heaven the Judge descendeth, On Whose sentence all dependeth!”
A sermon may be preached. Mass proceeds with a few differences: The Credo and the Glória Patri at the Lavábo are omitted. At the Agnus Dei, “dona eis réquiem” (grant them rest) replaces “miserére nobis”, and “dona eis requiem sempitérnam” (grant them eternal rest) takes the place of “dona nobis pacem”. The prayer for peace that follows the Agnus Dei is omitted, as is the Kiss of Peace in Solemn High Masses. At the end of Mass, “Requiéscant in pace” (May they rest in peace) takes the place of “Ite, Missa est”. The Final Blessing is omitted.

If Absolution follows the Mass, the Last Gospel is omitted. The celebrant changes into a black cope and goes to the entrance to the sanctuary where the Catafalque is placed. If the individual(s) being memorialized are priest(s), were the body present, the head would be toward the sanctuary, facing the flock he lead. For others, the feet are closest to the sanctuary, as the deceased person is facing his Lord on the altar. The Crucifer stands where the deceased’s head would be. The priest stands where the deceased’s feet would be and recites the Absolution: “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, Lord...” The choir sings the responsory Líbera me (“Deliver me, Lord, from everlasting death in that awful day: When the heavens and the earth shall be shaken: When Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.”). The priest recites the Kyrie and Pater Noster while passing around the body twice, once with Holy Water, and once incensing it, then says a final prayer. The choir sings In Paradísum (“May the Angels lead you into paradise...”) as the priest and sacred ministers exit.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 11/01 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (All Saints)

Tue. 11/02 6:00 PM: Two Low Masses at Assumption-Windsor, followed by a Solemn High Mass at 7:00 PM (All Souls)

Tue. 11/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (All Souls)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for October 31, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

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