A friend once made a post asking the Catholics why they book mass for the dead with money. As usual no one came forth with an answer.
I asked that question years ago because even though I’m not Catholic, I went to a Catholic nursery and primary school owned by nuns, so I know a lot about the doctrine.
When I asked that question, I was told the practice stems from the bible, but not from the standard bible, rather from the apocryphal books. You know, those books rejected by normal Christian bibles like KJV, NIV, etc but found only in Catholic bibles like Good News.
The book in question is 2nd Maccabees. It is not in your normal bible. Anyway, here is what the second book of Maccabees 12:43-45 says about how Judas Maccabeus responded to slain soldiers of his that died with idolatrous amulets on their persons and from whence they took up the doctrine of collecting money in exchange for booking mass for the dead:
43: He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering.
44: In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.
45: But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.
Now, first of all, this book is not part of the bible, rather an apocrypha. So why was the doctrine of collecting money to pray for the dead culled from a non-biblical book?
Again, even if you decide to include it in the bible, it is going to be in the Old Testament. Pre-Christ. Does the death of Christ not abolish such practices? Is our salvation now bought with money after we die?
Finally, does booking mass guarantee a seat in heaven?
If no, then why do it? To extort money from parishioners?
If yes, does it then mean that I can go ahead to sin and kill people then leave instructions for my family to book mass when I’m gone so I can sidle my way into heaven?
We called out Tithing as a means of extortion of money in Protestant and Pentecostal churches. Booking of Mass for the dead is also a means of extortion of money in the Catholic Church.
It is what it is!
Written by Ijeoma Chinonyerem