Mass intentions – reaching beyond

I will include the following in my latest weekly column in The Wanderer (to which you can subscribe also in electronic format):

Every Mass can be offered for the living and the dead.

When a priest receives Mass intentions from the faithful for their loved one’s intention, he is reminded that what he does really has an effect in this world and beyond.  Consecrating the Eucharist and completing the Sacrifice accomplishes something far beyond this place and this moment. 

There has been over the last decades a corrosive deemphasis of how the effects of Holy Mass transcend distances and even the threshold of death, in favor of a horizontal focus on the assembly gathered in that moment. 

I frequently meet people who long to have Masses said for their loved ones, living and dead.  People today can have a hard time finding priests who can accept Mass intentions.  Often parishes have only one priest and one daily Mass.  They cannot find priests willing or available to do so. 

Pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jack Hughes says:

    Part of the problem also comes from Rich families that hog the parish schedule; at my home parish (1 Priest) 1 family is having 200 Mass’s said for their dead relatives and another family 100. Basically the only Mass said for the intentions of the people is the pro populo Sunday Mass (thankfully its the weekly TLM).

    Is it just me or isn’t there something unjust about people with money getting to hog the graces from Holy Mass? I asked a certain Dommican priest who has a twice monthly segment on a certain well known Catholic Radio show broadcast daily 3Pm-5PM Pacific time and he didn’t seem to think so.

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I see another side of the problem. Our parish has several Masses each week (even some on Sundays) with no intentions scheduled since the parish has heard so many impromptu canonizations during funerals conducted by the recently retired former pastor.

  3. dominic1955 says:

    For big Mass intentions, I think those people should contact a monastery and have a Gregorian said or something. They shouldn’t clog up the whole parish intention schedule.

    That said, there are often plenty of parishes and priests with no glut of intentions. Sometimes it pays to “shop around”.

  4. Patikins says:

    Gregg: Like you, my mom’s parish has few people ask to have masses said. I suspect that is due to lack of belief in the value of having masses said for the living and dead. :(

    Jack: My parish is run by a religious order and we have 4-5 priests in residence at any time but even with that many masses being said each day they have to limit each person/family to six masses per year. Beyond that people can have masses said in the private chapel or sent to other houses or missions of the Order.

  5. HighMass says:

    If anyone needs a Requiem High Mass said for your Loved Ones who have gone before us, suggestion here, I contact the FSSP.

    In the good old days…. when the Sisters taught us in grade school even though they are a very very liberal order now, they drilled into us to ALWAYS Pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

    And Yes We have had Novus Ordo Mass for the Dead said many times, just happen to prefer Holy Mass in the EF, including Requiem Masses.

    Sisters used to say pray for the Poor Souls now as someday we might be in there place.

  6. ejcmartin says:

    I find the comments interesting. At most every Mass in my diocese I attend there are intentions usually for specific souls.

  7. Jack Hughes says:


    whats he betting that the Fraternity (good men that they are) are also booked up? I say this because every Traditional Catholic worth his salt will want to have a good and Holy priest offer Mass for his intentions; not a priest who won’t “say the black and do the red”.

  8. Our pastor, for almost every feast,occassion, etc., puts a notice in the bulletin, that there will be a Novena of Masses, sometimes this offering of Mass for our private intentions lasts a month. Anyway, he adds a form to the bulletin introducing the Novena and everyone at the parish and those who know him from afar on the internet, can send in their prayer petitions for the living and dead. Those who have passed, we mark with a cross. You can put as many intentions for yourself and others as you like in the envelope, that are written or typed on as many pages as you like. We never go without taking advantage of these wonderful Masses for our intentions. He also asks that NO DONATION be given. What a guy!

  9. M Heller says:

    The Society of the Propagation of the Faith is a terrific place to send a donation for Mass intentions. They send the intentions out to priests in mission countries where the Holy Mass is being offered and the donations are sorely needed. There is a local office in almost every diocese, I believe.

  10. HighMass says:

    Hi Jack,

    Just FYI, Every time I have call the Fraternity, I ask for the Secretary, she takes the request…. Just an FYI, And again in the N.O. parishes most of the time you can have a N.O. Mass said for the
    repose of the Soul of…..

  11. Re: no Masses scheduled to be said

    Obviously a good idea to list these parishes in the diocesan newspaper, as well as mission societies and other groups that people can contact. Though many people want to have Masses said where they can attend, and I totally understand that.

    Re: glut

    Maybe these parishes need to start a Perpetual Mass Society, like St. John Cantius has. I mean, how many more than “perpetual” do you need?

    Of course, it may be that the roof and walls of a church was paid for by some bequest from a rich donor that had funky conditions; in which case the “hogging” would have some meaning to it. That’s more of an olden days thing to happen, of course, but sometimes these bequest conditions go on for hundreds of years.

  12. lucy says:

    Our family prays a rosary every evening for many intentions, but we always include prayers for all Christ’s priests on earth, all Christ’s seminarians on earth, and for an increase in holiness among all priests and religious and lay faithful, and all souls in purgatory.

  13. Random Friar says:

    It’s not just “rich” families that tie up all the Mass intentions. I’ve met many a soul that even with few means, would want Masses every month on the same day, or had 20-50 intentions for the year that they wanted to be remembered.

    In some cultures, folks really, REALLY want to hear the name of the intention of the Mass. If it’s not mentioned, they take it out their disappointment on the poor Church secretary. I’ve even had some folks who wanted the Church bulletin as a “receipt.”

    I’ve tried every means of education. Sometimes the widow just beats down this “unjust judge” to yielding. One of those things you just try to handle as best as you can where you are.

  14. GregH says:

    The SSPX is accepting Mass intentions

  15. albizzi says:

    In France we have a catholic organization named “Aide a l’Eglise en détresse”. These people collect money to help the priests and nuns of the local parishes in poor countries mainly in Eastern Europe, in Africa, in Asia and South America.
    They provide these poor priests with masses to be said at one’s personal intentions and pay them the same price as it is usually required in rich countries like France. For example EUR 15.00 or USD 20.00 per mass.
    It is easy to understand that only ten masses for one month are largely enough for a priest to live in countries like Burkina-Faso while it is a small amount in Europe
    In addition the Customs can’t charge any tax since these are immaterial goods.

  16. Sorbonnetoga says:

    @Albizzi: It’s called Aid to the Church in Need in English and can be found at various websites. Its local affiliate here in Ireland takes Mass intentions for priests in poorer parts of the world via this webpage

  17. Philangelus says:

    At my ex-parish, I requested a mass to be said for two friends who had just lost a baby. The church secretary said they could only say a mass for the soul of the baby, since you can’t say a mass for a living person.

    I asked why they put a “(d)” after the names of the deceased people if they have to be deceased.

    She said that’s just the way it’s done. I had the mass said somewhere else.

    (If anyone’s interested, something wonderful happened the first time I requested a mass to be said in honor of my guardian angel: )

  18. LouiseA says:

    Fr. Z.,
    Since in the TLM there is a prayer where you pray for the living, and another prayer where you pray for the dead, why is it not the practice to give to the priest BOTH a living and a dead person’s name when you give the priest a Mass stipend so he can fill in the blanks in both prayers with your intentions?

  19. prsuth33 says:

    The Monks at Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma offer Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. And, the contributions go toward the construction of their new Church. Fr. Shapiro would be happy to hear from you. Masses are $10 each. His number is (918) 772-2454.

  20. Rev. Matthew Keller says:

    There are a bunch of missions in my diocese (Reservation parishes and rural areas) where the priests very seldom have requests for Mass intentions. If anyone would like to send Mass intentions to the missions contact the Chancery at the Diocese of Gallup. Let me be clear, there is not a price for requesting a Mass to be offered for your intention!! That being said, it certainly is the custom to offer a very modest stipend.
    505 863-4406
    Diocese of Gallup
    711 S. Puerco
    Gallup, NM 87301

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