From a reader:
Over the years, parish practice has allowed that there be several
intentions listed at Mass. These collective intentions are a daily
occurrence with some Masses having four or five intentions. Our bishop
has recently begun to enforce the Canons concerning Mass intentions. I
was hoping that you could expand on the theological basis for having
only one intention be the norm. It seems that the priest could have as
many intentions as is possible as long as he personally does not
receive a stipend for them. If you could help or at least point me in
a good direction I will buy you a cup of Mystic Monk Coffee.
The Code of Canon Law says: Can. 948 – Separate Masses are to be applied for the intentions of those for whom a single offering, although small, has been given and accepted.”
This is the general norm. However, the the Holy See authorized bishops to allow the celebration of Masses with several intentions at once. My understanding is that these “cumulative” intentions should not be the usual practice. Also, the local bishop determines how this is to be handled (i.e., who keeps the stipend, etc.).
There is a 1991 document of the Congregation for the Clergy which deals with this.
It is harder and harder for people in some places to have Masses said for their chosen intentions. This is due, of course, to the dearth of priests and therefore daily Masses.
Pray for vocations!