EWTN Catholic Q&A
Masses for the Deceased
Question from Connie on 11-30-2011:

As a regular routine practice at our parish, names are published for whom a Mass is being said. There may be two or three people named for one Mass. I seem to recall that there is a requirement that each Mass be said for only one person. Am I correct in this, or is it permissable to have more than one person named?

Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 12-02-2011:

This may be better answered in the "Canon Law" section, but let me explain a few things:

A Mass can be said for more than one person. It is common at my parish for someone to ask for a Mass to be said for their deceased parents, or for the deceased members of their family. Mass can also be said for larger intentions without exact names (eg - "for the souls in Purgatory", or, "for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti").

The big thing is that Priests may not take Mass stipends from multiple people, telling them he'll "say a Mass for their intention", then just say one Mass for these multiple intentions. When someone arranges for a Mass to be said (either by arranging it directly with a Priest, or going to their local parish's office and arranging it though a secretary), you are making a contract with a Priest to say a Mass for the intention you want. Now, at Mass a Priest certainly is praying for more than the specific intention of the Mass. Hopefully he's praying for the world, the church, the Pope, etc. But Canon Law is specific about Mass stipends because a Priest should never turn the Mass into a money-making opportunity for himself.

I hope this answers your question(s).