What is the best way to ensure that part of whatever funds are left in my estate are used to have masses offered for the repose of my soul?
I think we all wonder about this. I sure do. Will anyone pray for me after I die? Some of us with little family of our own, and they not Catholics… well. Who will remember us? So many “funerals” or “post-living life celebrations” these days neglect the one thing that is necessary: prayer for the dead.
I want prayers, darn it, not balloons and jokes.
Also, it is hard for many people to find priests who can take their Mass intentions for loved ones. Pray for more priests, good holy, devout and faithful priests.
So, now to the question: making provisions for Masses to be said for you after your death.
If leaving funds for Masses to be said, be as specific as possible about what you want.
Can. 950 of the Code for the Latin Church establishes that if there is no indication of the number of Masses to be said, the presumption is that the number of Masses is determined by the offering prescribed in the donor’s residence. For example, I leave $1,000 “for Masses” in my will without specifying how many. Based on the common custom of $10 per Mass in the Diocese of Black Duck (where I lived), I should have 100 Masses said. Otherwise, I could specify that I’m leaving $1,000 for 50 Masses. In that case the stipend per Mass is $20.
Perhaps one solution would be to establish an agreement with a monastic community. You might create a foundation that would provide a steady flow of money to the community with the agreement that a Mass be celebrated regularly.
Canons 1299 – 1310 cover issues for a pious foundation. Pay attention to details. The Ordinary (usually the religious superior) is the executor of such foundations, and no other provision is acceptable (can. 1301, 3). The Ordinary is to see that the parameters of the bequest are carried out diligently. Provisions may be made for long-term obligations, such as a series of Masses (can. 1303, 1), but the Code no longer speaks of “perpetual obligations.”
A provision might be included in the will to make provisions for the reasonable termination of the foundation, or its transfer to another entity. For example:
“I leave from my estate $50,000 to the Abbey of St. Exuperantia, to be held in a foundation, and from the interest of which foundation, $100 is to be taken per annum for ten Masses for my soul, for at least the next thirty years. However, should St. Exuperantia Abbey close its doors before that time, or be rendered incapable of fulfilling the requirements of this foundation, the remaining funds are to be transferred to St. Aceptisimas Abbey, or another Benedictine Abbey of the Federation of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. After thirty years, if the Abbot makes a determination that the Masses should not continue, what remains in the foundation is to be dispersed to the Diocese of Black Duck for the support of elderly and infirm priests and, in particular, priest bloggists.”
Whatever provision is made in the will for something like really ought to be looked over by both a civil lawyer and a disinterested canon lawyer.
Finally, why wait until someone dies to have Masses said? Have them said also while people are still alive!