WHY IT IS MORE MERITORIOUS TO HEAR MASS during life and not after death...

Many Catholics are solicitous to have a number of Masses celebrated after their death for the repose of their souls. For this purpose they save money and devise a portion of their estate in their last will and testament. This is good and praise worthy, and persons intending this should by no means be dissuaded from doing so; yet it is more profitable and meritorious to have these Masses celebrated during life.

St. Leonard of Port Maurice exhorts us most earnestly to have Masses celebrated for ourselves during our life-time rather than after our death; and he declares that one Mass before our death is much more profitable to us than many after it. He gives the following reasons:

First, if we have a Mass said for us during our life-time, we are the cause of its celebration and can assist at it, which latter is impossible after our death.

Second, if a Mass is celebrated for us during our life-time, and we are perhaps in the state of sin, we may hope to receive from God's mercy, in virtue of this Mass, the grace to perceive our sinful state, to be moved to true contrition, and to reconcile ourselves with God by a sincere confession. True, God is not obliged to grant us this grace; for whosoever remains consciously in the state of mortal sin, is not capable of gaining supernatural merit. But as God is infinitely merciful, He usually grants to sinners who perform a good action the grace of true contrition for their sins. This grace of Holy Mass cannot be obtained after death. For if we die in a state of sin, even thousands of Masses would not transfer us into the state of grace; we remain forever enemies of God and children of wrath.

Third, Holy Mass can obtain for us the grace of a happy death, because in virtue of its being offered for us God will assist us with special aid to triumph over the enemy of our souls in that decisive hour.

Fourth, if Masses are said for us before our death, their merit will accrue to us after it, and we shall thereby either be preserved entirely from Purgatory, or our punishment will be mitigated and lessened. By every Holy Mass we pay to God a great part of our indebtedness; and if we hear it with special devotion we moreover blot out many venial sins, so that we may reasonably hope to escape a great part of our punishment after death. But if we defer these Masses until after our death, we shall be obliged to wait for their celebration in case we are in Purgatory, and this waiting is most distressing and painful. Hence it is better that the benefits accruing to us from Holy Mass be obtained in advance, than to wait for them in the torments of Purgatory.

Offer masses now for the intentions of your loved ones while they are still living, especially on the date of their baptism and the date of their birth. They may not understand now but one day they will be grateful for the generosity you are showing their soul.