August 22, 2019

The Gregorian Thirty

What are The Gregorian Thirty?

The Gregorian Thirty – are a Novena of Holy Masses traditionally offered on 30 consecutive days as soon as possible after a person’s death. They are offered for an individual soul. These Holy Mass offerings are not for living persons or a group of souls asleep in the faith, but primarily for a recently passed loved one.

What prayers are efficacious? (desired result for the deceased)

The Sacrifice of the Mass has always occupied the foremost place among prayers for the dead, but in addition to the Mass and to private prayers, we have mention in the earliest times of alms-giving, especially in connection with funeral agapae, and of fasting for the dead. I recently participated in this Novena for a passed soul and the priest who offered this gracious service also required that we each pray daily. (1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary & 1 Glory Be] in union with the masses he would execute on this souls behalf. As a Catholic, we know the souls of the departed are alive and available to participate in the kingdom as part of our Apostolic belief in the “communion of Saints. Thus a soul is worthy of this grace if it did not die in a state of Voluntary Mortal sin. “Our God is the God of the living not the dead.”

Why 30 masses and where does the Gregorian part come into it.

The Gregorian Masses is a practice founded by Pope Gregory the Great that became a tradition in the Benedictine Monasteries: If 30 Masses are offered on 30 consecutive days without interruption for a specific soul in Purgatory, it is believed that the soul will leave Purgatory and enter Heaven.

The history of the “Thirty Mass” practice goes back to the year 590 AD in St. Andrew’s Monastery in Rome, founded by St. Gregory the Great in his own family home around 570. The custom spread first inside the Benedictine monastics, then to the whole Church after his election as Pope in 590, one of the monks, Justus by name, became ill. So he admitted to a lay friend, Copiosus, that he had hidden three gold pieces among his medications years before, when he was professed a monk. Both, in fact, were former physicians. And sure enough, the other monks found the gold when seeking the medication for Justus.

The Founder monk, then Pope Gregory, hearing of this scandalous sin against Holy Poverty, called in the Abbot of his beloved monastery, and ordered the penalty of solitary confinement for Justus, even though he was dying, and ordered his burial not in the cemetery but in the garbage dump. Copiosus told his wretched friend of this decision. Moreover, the community were to recite over his dreadful grave the words of St. Peter to Simon the Magician: “May thy money perish with thee” (Acts 8:20)

The Pope’s desired result was achieved: Justus made a serious repentance, and all the monks a serious examination of conscience. Justus then died, but the matter did not, for thirty days later Pope Gregory returned to the monastery filled with concern for Justus, who would now be suffering the grim temporal punishment of Purgatory’s fire for his sins. “We must,” said Gregory to the Abbot, “come by charity to his aid, and as far as possible help him to escape this chastisement. Go and arrange Thirty Masses for his soul, so that for thirty consecutive days the Saving Victim is immolated for him without fail.” And so it was done.
Some days later, Justus appeared in a vision to his friend Copiosus and said, “I have just received the Communion pardon and release from Purgatory because of the Masses said for me.” The monks did a calculation, and noted that it was exactly thirty days since the Thirty Masses had begun for Justus. They shared this great consolation with each other, with their Abbott and with Pope Gregory, whose personal authority guarantees its truth, for he wrote the full account of it in his Book of Dialogues, which became very popular.


The consolation spread throughout the Benedictines and later through out the entire Church. Today, the tradition carries on, admittedly not as well known after nearly 1500 years of practice, possibly due to Vatican II reform. Or for fearing to offend those who believe all impure souls (anyone who committed sins on earth but were forgiven them ) directly straight to Heaven?

Do the Gregorian Masses genuinely guarantee liberation of the soul in question from the purifying punishment of Purgatory?

We have “no official” pronouncement on this issue from the Church, and DON’T EVER expect one. As she Avoids this area believing not to have prerogative authority in purgatory and justice issues, and reminds us its authority ends at the “forgiveness of sins window”. Happy to leave this to Divine Providence and His Mercy. However, down the centuries we see that when the Church is graced with special revelations from Jesus, to one of his Saints (Eph3:3) “… how the mystery was made known to me by revelation…”, the actions, or prayers requested in Heaven apply to ALL his children. Jesus related to St Gertrude this sentiment concerning souls in Purgatory, “I accept with highest pleasure what is offered to Me for the poor souls, for I long inexpressibly to have near Me those for whom I paid so great a price. By the prayers of thy loving soul, I am induced to free a prisoner from purgatory as often as thou dost move thy tongue to utter a word of prayer.So we in faith request the benefits to the passed souls and hope in His Mercy.

Is there a Fee for this service, how much should I pay?

Well, I think the priests call this a free will offering. They on their own free will provide and commit to the service for 30 days. You should check with his local parish to determine the customary rate for Mass Intentions.

I have also seen the request as $250 and a website I will post offers the Specific soul Novena for $130.oops now $300! Given I have seen one local Parish offer daily mass intentions for $25. Both 30 Masses for $250 to $300, good deals. Besides the peace of mind is well worth it, knowing you have done a “holy and pious(2Mac12:44-46) Spiritual Act of Mercy, for the recently passed soul.

Masses on privileged altars?      As for the “privileged altar,” mentioned above, such became the title of the altar habitually used by St. Gregory for Mass when he was Abbot at St. Andrew’s. Are not required.

last updated 1/21/19

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