Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian English French


Dear Father Angelo,

is there a term of “reasonableness” for suffrage masses? That is, for how many years is it necessary (ie appropriate, recommendable, desirable, advised) to have Masses said? Or perhaps, more than years we should talk about masses, because you can decide to spread 50 masses one a year (on the occasion of the anniversary) or to concentrate them one a month for 4 years.

Obviously the “term” is very subjective and depends on the sensitivity of family members and their religiosity, however is there a time frame that can be considered reasonable? For example: my father has been dead for almost thirty years and my mother continues to have masses celebrated for suffrage (at least 2 a year), the same for the grandparents, who have died about 35 years ago. In addition, the Gregorian Masses were celebrated at the time. I am not impatient with this practice. I would just like to understand better, if and when it will be my turn, how long to remember to have masses of suffrage celebrated. In other words: is there a period of time beyond which it is believed that the celebration of the holy masses of suffrage for the person (s) they are dedicated to is a little overabundant? I know they wouldn’t be wasted because they would benefit other souls. However, it is one thing to think of dedicating masses to a person, wishing that they will go to his benefit and another thing is to knowingly dedicate masses to suffrage for forgotten or insufficiently remembered souls (which I would also like). Maybe I’m asking too much? Or do I ask to know the thought of God and to know when he has forgiven the loved one?

Obviously, if you have the grace to survive your loved one for many years, you have a lot of time to think about her and to dedicate masses to her, but if God’s designs arrange otherwise, will I leave this earth with the remorse of not having done enough for my loved ones?

Thank you.


Response from the priest

Dear John,

1. just as there is no limit in loving parents and loved ones, so there is no limit even in remembering them after their death.

It has been 35 years since your grandparents passed away. But for your parents their memory is very vivid. They cannot forget those who loved them and sacrificed themselves for them.

I understand their feelings very well: they cannot pass the anniversaries of their death without feeling the need to do something for them.

Thus our Christian and Catholic faith helps us to overcome even the barrier of death and to establish true communion with our dead.

With the celebration of Mass in suffrage, we know that we are giving them the greatest good: Jesus Christ himself, His sacrifice and the application of His merits so that all their sins may be blotted out.

2. You say: after 35 years they may no longer need our votes.

We hope so, but we don’t know.

Therefore it is right to do what we feel is our duty.

3. But wouldn’t it be better to celebrate all suffrage masses immediately without distributing them over a very long period of time?

No, I think your parents’ behavior is right.

First of all because in this way the memory always remains alive and the feeling of gratitude always current.

Furthermore, because communion with them must be continually revived.

Finally, because for their purification God takes into account the suffrages that will be celebrated in the future. Saint Peter says that for God “a thousand years are as one day” (2 Pt 3,8).

He takes this into account in the same way that he accorded his grace to the righteous of the Old Testament in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ.

4. It should also be added that if the people for whom suffrage is carried out do not need it, that suffrage is not only destined for others, but is especially beneficial to those who have offered it.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “our prayer for them can not only help them, but also make their intercession effective in our favor” (CCC 958).

There is always a blessing that falls on those who are concerned about making suffrages.

And I believe that this is also the element that secretly pushes certain people to never stop having suffrages celebrated. The day on which Mass is celebrated for their loved ones is always a special day, a blessed day.

You too will notice when the time comes to have Masses celebrated for your parents. You will never be able to do without it.

Thank the Lord for giving you parents who also give you this beautiful testimony, which is worth more than many words.

I wish you well, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo

27 February 2017 | A priest answers – Liturgy and pastoral care – Liturgical section