Mentioning the Mass Intention

Author: Father Edward McNamara


Mentioning the Mass Intention

ROME, 9 OCT. 2007 (ZENIT)

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: Unlike our present pastor, our former priest always would mention the intention for the Mass. Is this up to the individual priest? It gets printed in our bulletin, but I would hope the priest would mention who the Mass is for at some point, even though I know God knows who it is for. — L.S., St. Louis, Missouri

A: While there are no universal laws regarding this topic, some dioceses have published norms with common-sense indications that all priests may take into account.

My reply is inspired by the norms issued by the Diocese of Rome.

There is no requirement to mention the priest's intention at the Mass. Thus, a mention in the bulletin or some other public notification is a legitimate option, especially when the pastor is aware that the person who requested the Mass will not be present at the celebration.

If the person or family who requested the intention wishes to be present, then it is good that the celebrant mention the name of the person for whom the Mass is being offered.

This may best be done either after the greeting at the beginning of Mass or as an intention of the prayer of the faithful.

The name should not normally be mentioned during the Eucharistic prayer. This naming is best left for funeral Masses, Masses at the notification of death, and significant anniversaries. The special formulas for funerals, especially in Eucharistic Prayers 2 and 3, were specifically composed with such occasions in mind and were not conceived for daily recitation.

It should be remembered that the Mass intention refers above all to the intention of the celebrating priest who took upon himself the commitment to celebrate for a specific intention when he accepted a stipend.

Since the Mass is infinite the priest may also have other personal intentions that may or may not be reflected in the Mass formula used.

For example, a priest may offer the Mass for a deceased soul while at the same time using the Mass formula "For Vocations," with the personal intention of asking God to bless the Church with abundant vocations.

Likewise, while any person assisting at Mass is free to associate his prayer with the intention of the priest celebrant, he or she is also free to offer up participation at the Mass for any number of personal intentions.

We also have dealt amply with the topic of intentions and stipends in our columns of Feb. 22 and March 8 in 2005.

* * *

Follow-up: Mentioning the Mass Intention [10-23-2007]

After our commentaries on reading out Mass intentions (Oct. 9) a priest observed: "At a concelebrated Mass, each concelebrant conceivably has a separate Mass intention. At my monastery, we have daily concelebration, and we have a policy of never mentioning any Mass intention at Mass. Otherwise, it could happen that if one Mass intention is mentioned by the presiding celebrant, someone may be present who has requested a different intention from one of the concelebrants, and would have the impression that the requested intention was not fulfilled."

This is certainly a legitimate policy given the circumstances. There might be particular occasions, however, when the fact that several priests are concelebrating specifically allows for more than one intention to be mentioned, provided that the faithful know that each intention will be entrusted to a different priest.

Even though only one Mass is celebrated at a concelebration, each priest legitimately celebrates a Mass and may receive a stipend for the corresponding intention.

There is, however, a strict norm that a priest may never receive a stipend for a concelebrated Mass if he celebrates, or more rarely concelebrates, another Mass on the same day.

For example, if our correspondent, besides concelebrating at the community Mass in the monastery, were to also celebrate for the people at some other time, he could only accept a stipend for the second Mass.

He could have any number of personal intentions to offer at the community Mass, but none associated with a stipend.

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