QUAERITUR: Masses for things instead of for people

From a reader:

Father, is it appropriate for a person to ask a priest to offer Mass for a non-human intention, like “for a bountiful harvest” or “for good weather”? Canon law says (c. 901) that a priest can offer Mass for anyone, living or dead, but it is also more general (c. 945 ff) in saying the priest can accept an offering to apply a Mass “for a specific intention.” I find it odd to hear an intention that is not directly for a person(s). But, is it ok? I know there are votive Masses for various needs. Perhaps that answers my question.

Yes, that answers your question.

Masses can be said for intentions that are not for humans, living or dead.  The intention can be in some way associated with, for example, the common good.  You pointed out that there are Votive Masses for various intentions.  Some of my favorites ar, in the 1962 Missale:

  • Mass in time of war
  • Mass for the forgiveness of sins
  • Mass for the grace of a good death
  • Mass for the preservation of ecclesiastical vocations
  • etc.

There are also some additional orations that can be added, such as:

  • to ask for rain
  • to ask for humilty
  • etc.

Of course all of these things come back to what we are asking God to grant to the living.

We can bring all our cares and needs to the altar.  The Church has Mass formularies for many occasions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. JPG says:

    This is an understandable question. Until I purchased a 1962 Missal ,I was unaware of the number of Masses for these intentions not all of them for the dead. It bears witness to the the awareness our forefathers in the Faith had of their absolute dependence on God for all things. This sense , I fear, has been lost in our modern age. Studying the traditions of the past, the Ember Days and Rogation Days also helps to restore that awareness.

  2. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Actually, the first intention of every Mass has nothing to do with any human need, but is to render to the Blessed Trinity greater glory, honor, and adoration.

  3. I have all kinds of intentions of the living to offer Holy Mass…I try to utilize the prayers, when appropriate, for the various intentions; conversion of family members, health of people, even, in some cases, “the gift of tears”, which is in the ’62Missal.
    Holy Mass is most efficacious for all kinds of everything…if only we believed it and practiced it!

  4. Fr Sotelo: After that we usually have some other things on our minds during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  5. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z: LOL. Yes, true….ad utilitatem meam totiusque Curiae militantis, pro omnibus qui se commendaverunt orationibus meis, in genere et in specie, et pro felici statu sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae…..

  6. DBuote says:

    What about Masses against Pagans!?!?! Was serving I private Mass Friday (Feria), I tried to get Fr to say the mass against pagans… but he wouldn’t give in.. settled on Holy Cross…

  7. lmgilbert says:

    Are not the overwhelming number of Mass intentions for the deceased? I’d be interested to know the approximate percentage in the average parish. From reading church bulletins, I would guess this number is above 80%.

    This is very striking. What about the living? What about all our siblings, cousins, and children, so many of whom have the left the Church, who are living in sin, and who are in peril of eternal death?

    So many Catholics want to get their loved ones out of Purgatory. I, on the other hand, would be delighted to get them INTO Purgatory. For that I have Masses said.

  8. I have asked the priest who celebrates the TLM that I attend to offer Masses for the intention that more people attend the TLM…and a bigger crowd than usual showed up at the last Saturday evening one.

  9. Fr. W says:

    Does it seem strange to announce: ‘Mass this morning is offered for Lori Smith on her birthday.’ ‘Mass today is offered for Bill Anderson to have more humility.’ ‘Mass this morning is offered in thanksgiving for successful eye surgery, thanksgiving to St. Anthony.’ ‘Mass today is offered for Ralph Jones’ special intention.’

    My previous pastor only allowed public announcemnts for the dead or a wedding anniversary, others not announced. I am not a pastor – wonder how priest’s handle these things.

  10. BobP says:

    Praying for your team to win probably wouldn’t be valid though. Reason: it means you’re praying that the other team loses as well. What you receive shouldn’t come at the expense of someone else.

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