Sunday, November 6, 2016
Father Gerard, that the custom of having thirty masses said for the dead is also widely spread in Italy and other Christian countries. These Masses are called the Thirty Masses of St. Gregory, because the pious custom seems to trace its origin back to this great Pope. It is thus related in his Dialogues (Book 4, chap. 40): A Religious, named Justus, had received and kept for himself three gold pieces. This was a grievous fault against his vow of poverty. He was discovered and excommunicated. This salutary penalty made him enter into himself, and some time afterwards he died in true sentiments of repentance. Nevertheless, St. Gregory, in order to inspire the brethren with a lively horror of the sin of avarice in a Religious, did not withdraw the sentence of excommunication: Justus was buried apart from the other monks, and the three pieces of money were thrown into the grave, whilst the Religious repeated all together the words of St. Peter to Simon the Magician, Pecunia tua tecum sit in perditionem—“Keep thy money to perish with thee.” Sometime afterwards, the holy Abbot, judging that the scandal was sufficiently repaired, and moved with compassion for the soul of Justus, called the Procurator and said to him sorrowfully, “Ever since the moment of his death, our brother has been tortured in the flames of Purgatory; we must through charity make an effort to deliver him. Go, then, and take care that from this time forward the Holy Sacrifice is offered for thirty days; let not one morning pass without the Victim of Salvation being offered up for his release.” The Procurator obeyed punctually.