Offering Eucharist for the dearly departed?

Since my brother died in 2008 my family has had several masses said for him (as well as keeping him in our daily prayers). Like many people, I hope that my deceased loved one is in Heaven already with God. However, I think it is more prudent to “play it safe” (so to speak) and continue to say prayers and have masses said for loved ones in the event that they are still in Purgatory. (Besides, even if your loved one is in Heaven now you can always ask God that in the event this is the case to allow your prayers to benefit some other poor holy soul. :slight_smile: )

While reading a book on Purgatory (Hungry Souls by Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg) I was struck by something I had never heard of before. He says towards the close of his book:

“Poor souls indeed very often ask for holy Masses; but an expiatory act of high value is also the offering up of holy Communion, even of so-called spiritual communions.” (page 123)

What does this mean? I have never heard of offering up Communion before. Is this an acceptable practice? And if so, what is one supposed to do? Simply think to oneself as he or she receives the Lord “I am offering the sacrament of holy Eucharist for so and so”? Does this mean you sacrifice all of the benefits that you would normally gain from receiving Eucharist?

As you can see I am clearly confused. :o I’d love to know what people have to say about this, but in particular I would very much prefer some official statement (link, article, quote, etc.) by the Church on the matter. Thanks.

“The pious custom of the faithful of offering their Communion for relations friends and the souls departed is to be considered as possessing unquestionable value in the first place because an earnest prayer of petition in the presence of the Spouse of our souls will readily find a hearing and then because the fruits of Communion as a means of satisfaction for sin may be applied to a third person and especially per nuxium sufiragii to the souls in purgatory.”

So, in essence, yes, you would say that you are offering this Eucharist for whomever and that person will receive the benefits. Will this keep you from gaining the benefits of it? I am going to go with “ish.” The way I understand these things working, and please gently correct me if I am wrong, but if I offer my plenary indulgence for praying the Stations of the Cross to a soul in Purgatory, then I don’t get the indulgence- it went to a soul in Purgatory. However, there is merit that I receive for praying for the souls in Purgatory that I do get. God isn’t going to abandon you when you receive the Eucharist even if you offer it for someone else. It is our job as the Church Militant to help all our family to get into Heaven, especially those who can no longer help themselves.

When I asked about the losing the benefits of Eucharist I hope I didn’t give the impression of selfishness. I was worried it may have come off as such. (Maybe I am being selfish?) I like offering prayers, etc. for others. And if all the graces or merits associated with those offered prayers were to be given to those others and none left for myself that would be ok since I am freely offering them up. But since the Eucharist is our true food and true drink which allows us to be united to Christ I was/am more worried about offering that up.

I fear I may be thinking about all of this too legalistically.

I have every faith that Christ could obviously allow both myself and another whom I offer Eucharist up for to receive Him if He wanted to. He gives Himself to countless numbers of people each day in the form of holy Eucharist, so why not also those in Purgatory if it is offered to them? Hmmm…maybe I just need to contemplate that a little more.

Thanks for the link/quote by the way. Though, I’m curious…has the Church said anything about this a little more recently than 1909 (when that book you quoted was apparently written)? With all the changes that have happened in the Church since that time I just wondered if anything regarding this may have changed.

I don’t think that being selfish is necessarily wrong, especially in cases like this. I freely ask that what I do be given for other souls, but not without saving enough for me to get into Heaven. Maybe selfish is not the right word since it has negative connotations- perhaps, “interested in my own salvation.” I don’t know if there is anything more recent; I did a quick search and saw that and thought it fit the bill. Things like that don’t change all that much. Even though the church tends to not specify indulgence times now and opt for a “plenary” or “partial” classification, I don’t think it changes the motivation behind it. I hope that makes sense…:o

Thanks again for your input. I actually decided today that the best thing for me to do was to mentally ask the Lord to let me “share” Communion with my deceased brother. I made sure to preface that request with “If it is acceptable to you Lord”. I’m confident that the Lord is perfectly ok with my request and has granted it, but in the event that I happen to be mistaken about this I know that He is the Lord of Love and Mercy and so He knows the loving intentions in my heart and isn’t upset with me. I must say though that knowing that today mass was offered up at my local church for my brother (on Pentecost no less!) and that I was able to share Communion with him brought me a very deep sense of peace and joy. :smiley:

I can definitely understand what you’re getting at about being “interested in my own salvation” as well. The majority of times I pray I offer my prayers up for others, but I do include myself in them as well. However, I do try to more regularly offer prayers up entirely for others without myself included as a way of practicing charity that has no self-interest in it (aside from the natural satisfaction that comes from knowing you are doing good and pleasing God). However prayers of the latter type still constitute the minority of my prayers. :o

But Communion is so indescribably important that I had to inquire about all of this. Prayers are essential in their own right, but to receive Communion is to receive the Bread of Life! I was quite torn because I found myself feeling as if I were jealously grasping onto the Lord and not allowing another to receive His embrace. At the same time I didn’t want to give up embracing Him either. But I then reminded myself that I believe the Lord is big enough to embrace all of creation and therefore why should that differ for those who are in Purgatory? If anything, in many ways, those souls are more closely embraced by the Lord than we of the Church Militant are since they have already been given particular judgment and saved (though they must still be purified). Hence the idea of “sharing” came to me before receiving Eucharist today.

Anyway, this post is becoming much more of a rant than I intended it to so I’ll stop rambling now and just say thanks again for your help. :thumbsup:

It was truly my pleasure. And I have to thank you as well. Yesterday at Mass, I offered the Eucharist up to my aunt’s recently deceased mother. And I thanked God for your post informing me of being able to do that. So, I think she will thank you too! :smiley:

Wonderful! :slight_smile:

When we offer our Holy Communions for the souls in Purgatory, we are in no way cheating ourselves. Many theologians hold that even though the poor souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves, they can pray for us. Even if it turns out that that isn’t the case, when they get to heaven they will not forget us. As I get older and more of my relatives and friends have passed away, I have become more devoted to praying for the poor souls. It is a true act of charity to pray for the dead, but it isn’t completely unselfish on my part I must admit. I want to have the benefit of the prayers of these souls, if not now, at least when they get to heaven. Years ago I heard a wonderful homily on All Souls’ Day from a priest who as a child had the habit of trying to earn a plenary indulgence every day for the poor souls. He was positive that those souls supported his vocation, and later his priesthood. He is a very orthodox and holy priest today.

A Priest at my Parish, during a time I was seeking some spirtual guidance, told me to offer up any grace I received from receiving the Eucharist for my wife. I didn’t completely understand at the time, but now I do. Needless to say, I offer it for someone almost everytime I receive. My wife, souls in purgatory, a recently deceased person.

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