A few days ago I went to my old parish St. Anthony of Padua in Fitchburg for morning mass rather than my current parish. As I was looking at the parish bulletin I was shocked to see the weekday masses all empty in terms of intentions.
It is a simple fact of life, or death, that masses for the souls in purgatory are rather efficacious, but what is less known is that masses for the living are infinitely more valuable.
For one thing the soul in purgatory has already been judged and while a mass might shorten one’s time in purgatory every soul there will eventually be in heaven, that fact is of infinite comfort to the church suffering.
However for the souls still on earth, the church militant, the stakes are much higher.
The souls still on earth fate are still in doubt, the battle for their ultimate fate is raging, and in many cases the combatants the guardian angles of these souls are fighting that battle alone. Think about it, how many people who have abandoned the church, or are weak in the faith or have never known the faith simply have nobody praying for them?
And in terms of what it does for the faithful St. Anselm is rather blunt about it
“A single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death.”
As was Pope Benedict the XV (the Pope Benedict before the last one)
“The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death.”
And consider, the offering for a mass is a whole $10, that’ less that you pay for a #2 meal at a McDonald Drive through around here.
So if you’ve got an extra ten spot to spend and you see an empty mass intention on a local church, even if it’s not your own, consider a mass for someone you love, someone you’ve been praying for, or someone you know that needs prayer. Or if you’re having a hard time even for yourself.
The church is chock full of graces for those who need it, leap at them.