Dear Father Angelo,
my name is Anna and I would like to ask you if the Holy Mass can be celebrated for the living as well as for the dead!
I asked about it in my parish and I was told that it’s not possible! However, the Holy Mass is the greatest prayer that you can dedicate to a person who especially needs it.
Thank you for your attention, have a nice afternoon.
1. You are perfectly right and I fail to understand why you were given a negative answer.
Most likely, the person who told you that wasn’t a priest, since priests know these things.
Or maybe there was a misunderstanding: a deceased person can be mentioned by name, but the priest doesn’t normally mention living people by name, unless it’s a wedding ceremony.
2. It’s as important to have Mass said for the living and for their every need (especially their conversion) as it is to have it said for the dead.
I will make reference to two testimonies of the efficacy of celebrating Holy Mass for the living from Story of a Soul by St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
3. The first one has to do with the Saint herself who, in her childhood, suffered from a mysterious illness that almost cost her her life.
She herself said that the origin of that illness was from the devil.
But let’s see what she wrote:
“One day, I saw dad come into Marie’s room where I was laying down: with a look of great sadness, he gave Marie several gold coins and bid her to write to Paris to ask for Masses to be said at the shrine of Our Lady of Victories to obtain the healing of his poor daughter. Oh, how it moved me to see the faith and the love of my dear king!
I wished I could tell him “I’m healed!”, but I had already given him too much false hope and my wishes couldn’t work a miracle and it needed one to restore me to health.
Yes, it needed a great miracle, and this was wrought by Our Lady of Victories herself.
One Sunday, during the Novena (it was the last day of the Novena, May 13th, the Feast of Pentecost), Marie went into the garden, leaving me with Léonie, who was reading next to the window; after a few minutes I started murmuring “Mom… Mom…”. Léonie was used to hearing me fret like this, so she paid me no mind. This lasted for a long time, so I called out louder, and finally Marie came back, … it’s possible that her suffering was worse than mine and after struggling in vain to show me that she was close to me, she kneeled next to my bed with Léonie and Celine, she turned to the statue of the Holy Virgin and prayed with the fervor of a mother begging for the life of her child: in that moment she received what she desired. (Story of a Soul, 93).
4. “Finding no help on earth, poor Thérèse had also turned to the Heavenly Mother and begged her from the bottom of her heart to have pity on her…
Suddenly, the Holy Virgin appeared to me beautiful, so beautiful that I had never seen something so beautiful, her face showed unspeakable goodness and sweetness, but what touched the depth of my soul was “the splendid smile of the Madonna”.
Then, all my pain vanished, many big tears wet my cheeks, but they were tears of unmixed joy.
The Blessed Virgin smiled at me, how happy I am!, I thought. But I won’t tell anybody, or my happiness will disappear. I looked down without strain and saw Marie looking at me with love, she looked moved, almost as if she understood the favor the Madonna had granted me. I really owed it to her, to her moving prayers, that I had received the grace of receiving a smile from the Queen of Heaven. Seeing my eyes fixed on the statue of the Blessed Virgin, she thought “Thérèse is cured!”.
Indeed, the little flower was about to come to life again, the splendid ray that had warmed it would not cease to impart its blessings: it didn’t work its effects immediately, but gradually, sweetly, it revived the flower to such a degree that five years later it bloomed on the blessed mountain of the Carmel.” (Story of a Soul, 94).
5. The second testimony concerns the conversion of a notorious criminal. It’s about Enrico Pranzini, thirty-one years old, from Alexandria, Egypt. He had slaughtered two women and a young girl to steal from them. This happened on March 17th 1887. His trial ended on July 13th 1887 with his death sentence. He was guillotined the following August 31st.
But here’s what our Saint wrote: “I heard much talk of a notorious criminal who had been sentenced to death for several shocking killings and everything led to believe that he would die impenitent.
Whatever the cost, I wanted to prevent him from falling into eternal damnation and in order to accomplish this I used every means at my disposal; knowing that my own efforts were useless, I offered the Good God the infinite merits of Our Lord, the treasures of the Holy Church, finally, I asked Celine to have a Mass said for my intention, not daring to ask for it myself out of fear of having to admit that it was for Pranzini, the notorious criminal.
I didn’t want to tell Celine either, but she asked me questions so gentle and pressing that I ended up telling her my secret; far from making fun of me, she asked if she could help me convert my sinner; I accepted with gratitude, because I would have wanted all creatures to join me in pleading for this grace to be granted to the guilty.
In the depth of my heart, I felt the certainty that our wishes would be granted; however, in order to encourage myself and to keep praying for sinners, I told the Good God that I was sure of his forgiveness of the wretched Pranzini and I would have believed so even if he wouldn’t confess his sins or show a sign of repentance, so great was my faith in the infinite mercy of Jesus, but that I nevertheless asked Him a “sign” of repentance just for my consolation…
My prayer was granted to the letter!
Even though my father never allowed us to read the papers, I did not think there was any disobedience in looking at the news about Pranzini.
The day after his execution I found the newspaper “La Croix” by chance. I hastily opened it and what did I see? Tears betrayed my emotions and I had to run out of the room. Pranzini hadn’t asked for confession, he had mounted the scaffold and was about to put his head in the gruesome stock when, following a sudden inspiration, he turned back, grabbed a Crucifix that a priest was presenting to him and kissed the Divine Wounds for three times! Then, his soul went on to receive its merciful sentence from He who says: “There shall be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance…”” (Story of a Soul, 135).
6. As you can see, we have an immense treasure in our hands.
It’s the treasure that Christ left us: his salvific presence that puts at our disposal the infinite merits of his sacrifice, his passion and his death.
So do not worry.
If you can, have Holy Masses celebrated for the living, especially for the health of their souls, for their conversion and for their eternal salvation.
It’s one of the greatest acts of charity that you can do in their favor.
I wish you the best, I remember you to the Lord and bless you.