Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Well live and learn.

I was surprised at the number of people who said they did not quite grasp the idea of having a mass said for someone. So I thought that I would just go to one of the books on my shelf, take some notes, and write you a little post on it. There was barely anything in any of my books save for some guidelines in Canon Law. So no wonder it might start becoming a lost aid to faith unless you are very aware of it being practiced by your parents.

So what is going on here? First of all it is not that a mass is being purchased, it rather a request of the priest that he include in his specific intention that for which you wish to be prayed. That does not mean that no other intentions may be offered as the benefits of the mass are endless and include the prayers of all present, but by giving something of yourself, most commonly a small amount of money, you are sacrificially uniting yourself to the mass (even if you are not present) and having an intention particularly prayed for. (A priest may only accept one a day. Period. Though he may remember other intentions for which he does not receive a stipend.) I think for most Catholics this description is sufficient, but if you have deeper questions here is site that you might want to check out. It is a very in depth explanation.

But how do you go about doing it? You might want to call your parish office before heading out to arrange for a mass. The books that record masses and for whom they are being said sometimes fill up quickly and they may not have any vacant spots until they open next year’s books. They should be able to tell you when that happens. Others might have openings and invite you over at your convenience to make the arrangements. Sometimes there are limits on the amount of masses they allow for any one individual.

First a choice is made from the available dates. Then they will ask you for what intention do want the mass said. The vast majority of these masses are for the reparation of the soul of a loved one. As it says in Pope Benedict’s “Spe Salve”, “The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do, and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude for the other – my prayer for him – can play a small part in his purification. . . It is never to late to touch the soul of another, nor is it in vain.”

Occasionally masses are offered up for other purposes but these, by their nature, are more rare. One might be in the case of a significant wedding anniversary (such as the 50th.) Also the ritual for the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick states, “Sick persons who regain their health after being anointed should be encouraged to give thanks for the favor received by participating in a Mass of thanksgiving or by some other suitable means.” This might be taken care of by way of having a mass said for this intention.

A suitable donation determined by the local ordinary is given. No more than the amount stipulated (depending on the diocese may be $5 or $10) may be accepted as part of the stipend.

You should receive a “mass card.” It will state the mass intention and the date when the mass will be said.

And that is pretty much it. Hope it helps.


Adoro said...

I also read somewhere that we should be encouraged to have a mass offered in reparation for our own sins. * ahem * Especially those of us who really need it!

Anonymous said...

I'd long wanted to have a Mass offered for kids from my generation who OD'd or worse (Janis, Jimi, Jim, etc.) which included others up to and including Kurt Cobain. Brilliant but tormented souls, many, but I didn't want to be shot down on that by our very orthodox church secretary, nor risk irritating fellow Mass goers, so I was going to request a Mass for "the deceased members of the Rock Family." But perhaps someone already did so, or will, and meanwhile, there are indulgences for the Poor Souls.

Melody said...

..."the deceased members of the Rock Family". I love it!

Rob said...


My Father was not a Catholic and died outside the Faith. May I have masses said for non-Catholics who have passed away?

Kevin Hammer said...

Just want to note, if your parish masses are already assigned, you can support priests in other nations by sending mass stipends through an agency such as Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Aid to the Church in Need, or through religious orders.

Anonymous said...

Here in Australia we are not so formal. We just put the stipend, $10 usually, in an envelope together with a note to father asking him to say a mass for .....

I usually put my envelope, with Mass Offering written on the front, on the plate on Sunday.


Fr. V said...

Just me - go for it! I dare you! (If for some reason the priest won't do it, you can always offer the prayers at the mass.)

Rob - prayers may be offered for anybody. Go for it. No need to explain the details to anybody. Just offer the mass for the repose of his soul. That would be beautiful.

Kevin (of the great Toledo site) is right! And often parished that are accustomed to having too many mass intentions have a place to send them if you so desire.

Sharon - WHAT!? No rules and regulations? No record books? No paper work? How do you survive? LOL! That reminds me of going to a museum in some European country (i'd have to go back in my diary to remember which) and stating to the person next to me, "I can't beleive you can just walk up to these pieces and practically touch them. The docet over heard and said, "Well, you can't put everything under plexiglass and behind buzzers," to which I responded, "I'm from the United States. Yes you can!"

Anonymous said...

Ok :-)