Traditional Latin Requiem Mass in absence of the body

This is a personal question affecting me, though I can foresee that it might be helpful for general knowledge.

I reviewed my pre-need arrangements today with my funeral director, made several years ago, and contracted for along with an insurance policy to ensure the payment of expenses when that time comes, and I discovered that there was no provision for a chapel service. I had entrusted these details to a family member (long story) and he did not understand the necessity of this, and instead contracted for immediate burial (another long story). It is pretty much “set in stone”, and changing it at this point could result in not-inconsiderable expense and other problems. (They do not set up pre-need arrangements expecting to have to change anything like that.)

As it stands now, when that time comes, I will not be able to have a Traditional Latin Requiem Funeral Mass with my body present — I will have already been committed. My question: would I be able to have this Mass without my body present, or what is called “morally present”? I know in some cases (lost at sea, MIA with no body recovered and presumed dead, etc.) the body can obviously not be present, and the Requiem Mass would not be withheld for this reason. But in my case?

There are no family considerations, for I have no family (other than extended, and we’ve long since lost contact) other than my parents and my son, and in all likelihood, at that time it would only be my son, with whatever family he might have.

And I do ask that anyone who would urge me to have the post-Vatican II “Mass of Christian Burial”, please keep those thoughts to yourself — that’s not the question. It is no more incongruous for me to have my preference, than it would be for a “mainstream” Catholic to prefer the MOCB and have as their final wish not to have a Requiem TLM.

I have attended a few TLM requiem funerals with no body present for various reasons. Perhaps talking to your TLM priest to get some clarity in your situation.

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Keep this in mind, even if you have a TLM Requiem Mass, the Church law that applies is current law, (1983 Code of Canon Law) not 1962 (actually 1917 Code of Canon Law). The 1962 law only applies to liturgical praxis as allowed by Summorum Pontificum, not Canon Law.

So whatever practice is allowed will come from the diocese, not the TLM rubrics or past Canon Law. And the TLM rubrics do allow for a Requiem Mass without the body present, for various reasons such as your examples of MIA or lost at sea.

I would take this up with the Chancery office of your diocese for clarification.

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It’s been a few years back - enough that my memory is fuzzy - but I attended a requiem Mass with no body present. The priest mentioned a few things were slightly different, iirc, but otherwise, it didn’t seem substantially different from my limited knowledge and experience. This was when the TLM was “new” to our area, and it was in part a teaching opportunity (obviously, some of us didn’t learn much!).

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I think it’s the rubrics around the final absolution that are different, absent the body. But the rest is the same as a TLM Requiem Mass that is often celebrated on anniversaries of a death, 30 days after, etc.

And there’s no graveside liturgy obviously!


That’s about what I thought. I will check with the FSSP and/or the SSPX.

Actually, it will make the logistics simpler — just have my Requiem Mass wherever the priest happens to be, and perhaps some charitable souls, even total strangers, will assist at it, to pray for my poor soul. And saving the cost of renting the mortuary chapel, travel and possibly lodging for the priest, and so on (we have no priest within 50-75 miles of here who could even celebrate the TLM), well, that will just be money in my estate that can go to my son instead. Win-win for everyone.

For reasons that many of us in these parts find impenetrable, we do not have a regularly scheduled TLM in our area, so I’m not going to bother the diocese with this request. As I said above, I’m just going to get the FSSP or SSPX to take care of matters. Simpler that way.

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