For many Catholics, Mass is a special and needed celebration of faith. It’s also a treasured time of prayer, recitation of scripture, and partaking of communion. After someone passes away, friends and family often enroll their loved one in a perpetual Mass.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What is a Perpetual Mass?
- What Usually Happens During a Perpetual Mass?
- How to Sign Up for a Perpetual Mass for the Deceased
Family members of the deceased appreciate perpetual Mass enrollment because it provides special comfort during their time of grief. Loved ones can feel solace and reassurance that their loved one will be helped through time in purgatory and ultimately enter heaven.
We’ll guide you through the steps of how to enroll a deceased loved one in perpetual Mass.
What is a Perpetual Mass?
When someone passes away, you can sign your loved one up for not just one Mass, but a perpetual Mass. It serves as a special way to remember your loved one and provide comfort to a grieving family.
In a perpetual Mass, people pray for your enrollee perpetually, until the end of time. This means the deceased receives hundreds of thousands of prayers, endlessly. For many families, this charitable act provides a sense of comfort knowing that people pray for their loved ones’ souls and aid them heavenward through their time of purgatory.
Catholic Mass is thought to have started no later than the 3rd or 4th century, in the early days of the church when it was celebrated in people’s homes. Once world leaders of the time decided to promote religious freedom, Mass moved from private homes to public buildings and large gatherings of church members.
Over time, individual parts of Mass were established and the celebrated Mass today is largely the same as it has been for centuries. As individuals and families requested prayer, the act of offering an individual Mass eventually translated into a perpetual offering on behalf of the deceased. Both individual and perpetual Masses involve a donation that goes toward furthering the work of the church or providing for the priest’s needs.
During a perpetual Mass, congregants pray for all perpetually enrolled people and remember them during the service. Enrollees are usually deceased. However, you can enroll a living person, including yourself. You can also enroll non-Catholics if you want people to pray for them perpetually as well.
What Usually Happens During a Perpetual Mass?
The beauty of a perpetual mass comes in knowing that people will always pray for a loved one. People pray over your friend or loved one, living or deceased, and the priest or bishop petitions for that person as well. Think of it as your loved one attending Mass in person and the blessings of doing so get attributed to them. You can expect the following to occur in a Mass or a perpetual Mass.
The priest enters, greets church attendees, leads the congregation in a Penitential Act, then says a prayer. At this point, the priest announces, “This Mass is offered for all people who are perpetually or temporarily enrolled in our Masses.”
Liturgy of the word
Here, the priest reads several selections of scripture, pauses briefly to allow for reflection, then leads the congregation in reciting a creed of faith. The priest concludes this section with a prayer.
Liturgy of the eucharist
During this time, the Communion rite occurs with bread and wine. The priest prays a blessing over both items, then leads the church in prayer for the offering.
The priest leads church members in reciting the Lord’s Prayer and a time of silent corporate prayer. After the time of prayer, everyone in attendance receives Communion and a final prayer concludes Holy Communion.
The priest offers a final blessing to all in attendance and dismisses the church.
How to Sign Up for a Perpetual Mass for the Deceased
Honor your deceased friend or relative by signing him or her up for perpetual Mass. You can mail the mass card to a close relative or bring it with your sympathy card to the funeral. You can also present the card to the family after a funeral mass or memorial mass.
Signing someone up is simple and you can even do so anonymously.
1. Choose order or parish.
When deciding where to enroll your friend or loved one, you get to choose. You can enroll your loved one in the local parish or choose your own parish. If your loved one was passionate about a particular location or country, consider enrolling your loved one with a parish from that location. You can even enroll loved ones with more than one parish.
2. Visit the parish or enroll online.
If the parish is near you, the easiest method for enrollment involves an in-person visit. At the parish, you’ll most likely interact with either the secretary or the priest. Either of these people can help you through the following steps to complete enrollment.
If you choose to enroll your friend or loved one online, simply visit the website for the parish or order. From the main webpage, you’ll see a tab or category for Mass enrollments. Click this option and proceed with the next steps.
3. Offer a donation.
The Catholic Church never charges for Mass, even when perpetually enrolling a recipient. You may encounter a suggested one-time donation or a suggested donation range mentioned at the time of enrollment. Donation funds go to the church to help provide things like ongoing ministries and general upkeep of the church.
If you can’t contribute anything, the church will never turn you away. If you desire to donate to the church on behalf of the deceased, however, this is an excellent opportunity to do so. You won’t encounter a cap on donations so you can offer as much as you wish in your loved one’s memory.
4. Choose the Mass card.
Whether you sign up a loved one online or in person, you can often choose the look and style of Mass card to send to the family. Many have a short verse, sentiment, or funeral prayer on the Mass card in addition to details regarding their loved one’s Mass registration.
5. Fill out recipient information.
Fill out the name and address for where the Mass card should go. During this step, you’ll also confirm your information and note whether the enrollment should be anonymous.
Many online enrollments will send the card directly to the recipient, if desired, or to you, if requested. If you’re planning to give the family the Mass card, request it to mail it to you so you can hand it to the family.
6. Send or give the card.
If you want to sign up your friend or loved one anonymously, you can choose to have the parish send the Mass card without any identifying information as to the sender.
If you want the recipient to know that you signed up the deceased, then you can choose to have the parish mail it for you with your return address (for online enrollments), mail it yourself, or give the family the card directly.
There’s never a bad time to enroll someone in perpetual Mass but you can give Mass cards during funerals or memorial services, along with sympathy cards or flowers.
Remember the Deceased Through Prayer
Perpetual Mass provides family, friends, and even strangers the opportunity to remember a deceased person through prayer. Once enrolled, people will pray for your loved one on a continual and perpetual basis. This perpetual enrollment provides great comfort and encouragement to grieving family members and offers a great way to show you care.
- “Mass (religion).” Religion, University of Detroit Mercy, 2020. udmercy.edu/life/ministry/images/Mass_article.pdf
- Davies, Michael. “A Short History of the Roman Mass.” Mass, Catholic Tradition, 2020. catholictradition.org/Eucharist/mass-history.htm
- “The Order of Mass.” Missal, Liturgy Office of England and Wales, 2010. liturgyoffice.org.uk/Missal/Text/MCFL.pdf