Requiem Mass Question


I read somewhere that the Requiem Mass was done on Easter Friday traditionally but was changed by the Church to Lent vestments (Purple). Many of you know Requiem Masses feature black vestments but I began to wonder, when are Requiem Masses done during the liturgical year for the traditional rite according to the 1962 calendar? Are they only done for funerals?


I think you are referring to Good Friday. This is the only day in the Latin Rite where there is no Mass, but only a communion service. It is called the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified.

On Holy Thursday at the Mass which commemorates the Institution of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the priest consecrates enough extra hosts for the next day. The priest and people receive the hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday at the Friday Liturgy, the wine on Good Friday is not consecrated.

It is true that from the Middle ages until the reign of Pope John XXIII the vestments were black, in commemoration of the Death of our Lord. Pope Pius XII made some modifications to the Holy Week Rites, then Pope John made a few more modifications. Popes have the authority to do so. There were modifications to the Liturgy long before these changes were made.

In the Middle ages for very important feasts parishes would use their nicest set of vestments, even if they were not the color of the day. So if a parish had a very nice set of Black Vestments, they would be used even if it was not a funeral or requiem Mass.

Eastern and Oriental Rite Catholics have Liturgies of the Pre-sanctified throughout Lent, not just on Good Friday like the Latin Rite. In the early days of the Church the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified was more common, today it is only used on Good Friday.

As to the second part of your posting. Requiem Masses may be offered on the day the priest learns of the death of the person, the day of the burial, and there are in many places a customary “Months Mind Mass” 30 days after and then at two months, three months and annually. As long as the feast of that day allows for a Requiem, (ie not a major feast of Sunday) a Mass for the repose of the soul of an individual may be offered. The rubrics for when a requiem with black vestments can be offered are in the altar Missal and other liturgical documents. In places where the EF is offered they are more common. Even in the OF the priest may wear black vestments for a Requiem, they were never forbidden.


The only day on which the Requiem Mass was universally celebrated was on All Souls’ Day. Otherwise, it was celebrated at funerals, upon news that one had died in a distant place, on anniversary days of a parishioner’s death, and according to the desire of the priest, so long as a series of complicated conditions were met.


On All Souls Day three Masses are permitted. You will notice in the Missal they differ. If a priest offers two or three Masses on All Souls Day, he recites, or the choir sings the Dies Irae at the first Mass only. All souls and Christmas day are the only day a priest may receive more than one stipend. He may only receive two, if he offers three Masses that day. One Mass must be offered pro populo, or for the people of the parish or benefactors of His order. The other two can be applied to any soul he desires or the one for which he accepted the stipend.


Filioque, thank you. I knew of the three Mass (two for stipend and one pro populo) rule on All Souls’, but I had forgotten that they are different in the Missal.


This past All Souls’ Day the mass was in the OF but the celebrant wore black fiddleback vestments. Black vestments are still, for lack of a better word, kosher.


Whoops…yes I meant Good Friday. Don’t know what I was thinking! Thank you all for your responses.

I do find it kind of odd that we do not have a Mass on Good Friday. You would think that if we could only have one day to hold a Mass it would be the day that represents our Lord’s death at Calvary. Interesting thought for me personally as we get closer and closer to Holy Week.


There are lots of theological reasons for Good Friday being an aliturgical day. Most of all the solemn events without an actual Mass show remind us that because of our Sins, Christ left us through His death, He was absent from us that we may have forgiveness of our sins. We mourn His Death, because it was a real suffering and death, not as the Gnostics claimed just the appearance of death.

As to the posting of Fiddlebacks, well the truth be known, (And don’t get me wrong I prefer the Roman Style and Fiddleback, I prefer it to Gothic.) But the Fiddleback is a newer style of vestment. Around the turn of the last century the Gothic style made it’s return after a four hundred year period where it was almost forgotten. The only ones who retained the older style were Trappists and other strict orders who retained the simple vestments which pre-date the Fiddleback. Sadly it has come to be identified as “Traditional” by many as more traditional than the older gothic style.


When I go to the Dominican Rite Mass, the priest always wears Gothic chasuble. They can be beautiful, but I’m a Roman sort of guy. Just prefer them that’s all.


Good Friday is not aliturgical, of course, as it has its own liturgy. That liturgy is not a Mass, but it is a liturgy, and a very solemn one at that.


While you and I may call it a liturgical day, as there is the Office, and the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified. “Approved Authors” such as Fortesque, O’Connell, Jungmann, Mc Manus, Britt, Vigil, Garanger and the lot, all describe it as aliturgical because there is no Mass offered.

I would rather defer to them as experts than to try to re-invent the mind of the Church.


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