Dies Irae: Mass for the Dead

One of the most famous melodies of the Gregorian Chant, Dies Irae was traditionally ascribed to Thomas of Celano (d 1260), but now is usually attributed to an unknown Franciscan of that period. The piece is based upon Zep 1:14-16, a reflection upon the final judgment. It was formerly part of the Mass of the Dead and the Office of the Dead. Today it is found in the Liturgia Horarum for the last week of Ordinary time (34th). In placing it there, the emphasis is upon the upcoming Advent season and the Second Coming of Christ. In Diocese of the United States, it is still used in the Office of the Dead and the Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2).Many have complained about the depressing nature of the opening verses, but while the piece is certainly sobering, there is a note of hope as well later on in the hymn. Judgment, which is eternal, is indeed a fearsome prospect for us sinners, but, as Christians, we also realize we have Christ as our Savior.
DIES irae, dies illa,
solvet saeculum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla.
THAT day of wrath, that dreadful day,
shall heaven and earth in ashes lay,
as David and the Sybil say.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando iudex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!
What horror must invade the mind
when the approaching Judge shall find
and sift the deeds of all mankind!
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.
The mighty trumpet’s wondrous tone
shall rend each tomb’s sepulchral stone
and summon all before the Throne.
Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
iudicanti responsura.
Now death and nature with surprise
behold the trembling sinners rise
to meet the Judge’s searching eyes.
Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus iudicetur.
Then shall with universal dread
the Book of Consciences be read
to judge the lives of all the dead.
Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit:
nil inultum remanebit.
For now before the Judge severe
all hidden things must plain appear;
no crime can pass unpunished here.
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
quem patronum rogaturus?
cum vix iustus sit securus.
O what shall I, so guilty plead?
and who for me will intercede?
when even Saints shall comfort need?
Rex tremendae maiestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.
O King of dreadful majesty!
grace and mercy You grant free;
as Fount of Kindness, save me!
Recordare Iesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae:
ne me perdas illa die.
Recall, dear Jesus, for my sake
you did our suffering nature take
then do not now my soul forsake!
Quaerens me, sedisti lassus:
redemisti crucem passus:
tantus labor non sit cassus.
In weariness You sought for me,
and suffering upon the tree!
let not in vain such labor be.
Iuste iudex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis,
ante diem rationis.
O Judge of justice, hear, I pray,
for pity take my sins away
before the dreadful reckoning day.
Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
culpa rubet vultus meus:
supplicanti parce Deus.
Your gracious face, O Lord, I seek;
deep shame and grief are on my cheek;
in sighs and tears my sorrows speak.
Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.
You Who did Mary’s guilt unbind,
and mercy for the robber find,
have filled with hope my anxious mind.
Preces meae non sunt dignae:
sed tu bonus fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.
How worthless are my prayers I know,
yet, Lord forbid that I should go
into the fires of endless woe.
Inter oves locum praesta,
et ab haedis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextera.
Divorced from the accursed band,
o make me with Your sheep to stand,
as child of grace, at Your right Hand.
Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis.
voca me cum benedictis.
When the doomed can no more flee
from the fires of misery
with the chosen call me.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis:
gere curam mei finis.
Before You, humbled, Lord, I lie,
my heart like ashes, crushed and dry,
assist me when I die.
Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla.
iudicandus homo reus:
huic ergo parce Deus.
Full of tears and full of dread
is that day that wakes the dead,
calling all, with solemn blast
to be judged for all their past.
Pie Iesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.
Lord, have mercy, Jesus blest,
grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.

Our Duty to Relieve the Souls in Purgatory

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Our Duty to Relieve the Souls in Purgatory

In bestowing charity upon any person, we are usually guided by the degree of his poverty; but who is in such great need as he who possesses absolutely nothing, owes a heavy debt, is unable to labor or gain any merit; or even to beg, and must nevertheless suffer the most excruciating torments until the last farthing has been paid? There is a universal law to assist the needy, which extends even to strangers; but here the obligation is greater, because among these souls in Purgatory are such as were intimately connected with us, who suffer perhaps, for having loved us excessively. Among the sufferers are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends.

How exceedingly painful for them to be forgotten and deserted even by those whose happiness they promoted during their sojourn on earth; to see the possessions left to their children foolishly squandered, they themselves not receiving the benefit of the least farthing thereof. What proofs of extreme coldness and ingratitude! Were any of these persons afflicted with the least pain upon earth we would do all in our power to relieve them, but, as it is, we are devoid of all sympathy, and leave them in their terrible suffering and anguish.

Prayer:

Have mercy, O Lord, upon the suffering souls in Purgatory, and mitigate the severity of Thy judgment, that they, who during their earthly lives, believed in Thee, hoped in Thee, and loved Thee, may receive the crown of justice in Heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Special Intercession: Pray for the souls of those who are suffering for their negligence in prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Lord grant them eternal rest, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. (Three times.)

Practice: Suffer patiently the disagreeable
occurrences in your intercourse with others.
Invocation: My Jesus, mercy!

INSTRUCTION ON THE FEAST OF ALL SOULS

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INSTRUCTION ON THE FEAST OF ALL SOULS

[November 2]

The Church’s Year
By Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

What is All Souls’ Day?

It is the day set apart by the Catholic Church for the special devout commemoration of all those souls who have departed this life in the grace and friendship of God, for whom we pray, that they may soon be released by God from the prison of purgatory.

What is purgatory?

Purgatory is a middle state of souls, suffering for a time on account of their sins. St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: And the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built there upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. (i. Cor. in. 13-15.) “And when St. Paul,” says St. Ambrose (Serm. 20. in Ps. cxviii.) “says, yet so as by fire, he shows that such a man indeed becomes happy, having suffered the punishment of fire, but not, like the wicked, continually tormented in eternal fire.” St. Paul’s words, then, can only be understood to refer to the fire of purification, as the infallible Church has always explained them.

Are the heretics right in denying that there is such a place of purification as purgatory? Continue reading

Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

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Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

All Souls Day

The Church teaches us that the souls of the just who have left this world with traces of venial sin remain for a time in a place of expiation, where they suffer whatever punishment may be due to their offenses. Even if pardon has been obtained for our sins, satisfaction must be made to God, our Creator, in this world or in the next; for His sanctity has been, as it were, insulted by the self-will of one of His ignoble creatures. The more noble the person offended, the more serious the offense, even according to human laws. It is a dogma of our faith that the suffering souls are relieved by the intercession of the Saints in heaven and by the prayers of the faithful upon earth. To pray for the dead is therefore an act of charity and of piety, certainly obligatory for a Christian who professes to have charity in his heart. We read in Holy Scripture: It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins. (II Maccabees 12:46)

When towards the close of the tenth century, Our Lord inspired Saint Odilon, Abbot of Cluny, to establish in his Benedictine Order a general commemoration of all the faithful departed, the practice was soon afterwards adopted by the entire Western Church and has been continued unceasingly to our day. Let us always bear in mind the departed who have died in the love of God, and offer up our prayers and sacrifices to help expiate for them. By showing this mercy to the suffering souls in purgatory, we gain for ourselves very devoted friends, who will in their turn pray for us. We shall then be entitled to be treated with mercy at our departure from this world, and to share more abundantly in the suffrages of the Church, continually offered for all who have fallen asleep in Christ.

Reflection: When we offer satisfaction to God in this life for our offenses, there is merit attached to our penances. There is no longer any merit in purgatory; others must provide. Let us reflect well that if we do not ourselves repair our sins and faults, we place our burden on others; is that what we want?

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).