ASK FATHER: Mass intention register … in Latin

From a seminarian:

First, many prayers for you always!

Second, many of us at the seminary are looking for a personal mass intention book to keep record of masses. Preferably we have seen a red version that is labeled in Latin and is of a higher quality than what we can find online. Any ideas where we could find them?

You are looking for is the “Missarum diarium et onera“. I got one in Rome at the bookstore Ancora near to St. Peter’s.  It’s in Latin.  Hard cover. Medium sized.  Enough entries probably for a lifetime of a priest’s personal intentions. Not expensive.

Not that useful.

The version I got isn’t all that practical for, for me at least.

It is quite Roman, in the sense that it is intended for a sacristy at a church where in the church or chapel or crypt, etc., there are multiple altars.  There is an indication about which altar the Mass was intended for or fulfilled at (doesn’t specify) – “Altare”.  There is an entry for the church – “Ecclesia”.   There is an entry for place – “Locus”, which I suppose could mean town.

In sum, it is a strange set of items that hearkens to an earlier day, when multiple priests were at a church saying Masses through the day at different altars.  That’s what we see still at, thanks be to God, Ss. Trinita dei Pellegrini in Rome, but not many other places.  And even in that place, this book wouldn’t be that helpful, since the Mass books in Roman churches basically need the priest’s name and diocese/institute/order and the date he said Mass.  Otherwise, it could be for a religious community of priests, whose community receives intentions at their HQ or mother house.  The intentions are distributed to priests in the field.  The priests report back to HQ that intention was celebrated, for example, #9867 was celebrated by Fr. Sven O’Brien, SNARL*, at the Altar of St Christine the Astonishing at Mournful Mother Weeping Church in Black Duck, which is privileged and indulgenced.  Back at HQ, old Br. Diligens gets the notification, looks up #9867, marks it as fulfilled on thus and such a date and, if there is need to send a notification to the one who requested the Mass, takes care of business.  Such a registry reflects the seriousness of intentions and also days when there were many many more priests.

Newer books are a little more practical for the priest who keeps track of his own intentions, apart from the parish, etc.   They also include an entry for “No.” and the usual things like “Date”, the intention, the amount of the stiped, the date the offering was made (because the law requires that intentions be fulfilled within a prescribed time or on the day that was agreed), a slot for the name of the one who made the offering.  Sometimes a narrow column for a indication such as living or deceased or perhaps the type of Mass (Low, Sung, Solemn, Requiem).

These books could be a lot better.

In my copy, I just write pertinent stuff, every other line being a new entry, and cross them out with red when I fulfil the obligation.

NB: I’d like to have some priests chime in on this with their experience.   I’ve seen some priests/parish simply use a yearly liturgical calendar book for their territory as their record of intentions.  Others have databases, no doubt.

Fathers… what would YOU like to see in such a book?  What would be your categories?

*Societatis Nobilis Agentium in Rebus Liturgicis (aka The Liturgy Secret Police)


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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One Comment

  1. Bthompson says:

    The secretary keeps the register from my parish, and so in that case a book in Latin would perhaps be less useful to her merely on that fact alone.

    Personally, I think the books available are fairly adequate, but a helpful feature if I were keeping a personal log of private intentions would be a simple tick or initial box to note an intention completed.

    I do not generally commit to a Form or a grade of solemnity for the few private (non-parocial) intentions I am able to offer (and even those, I tend to do as a charitable thing rather than taking a stipend), but I could imagine a priest who was making such distinctions would find a place to note Form or solemnity useful.
    Perhaps in the same place the priest could also note if there were some cause such that he could not reschedule that intention (such as Gregorian Mass intentions) or was specifically committed to the particular grade of solemnity, or that it be a requiem, such that he couldn’t just say the day’s Low Mass to fulfill the promise.

    As for the language of the headings, Latin is great and everything, but if it were a book that was simply for private use I am not sure I would find a lot of utility in keeping the records in Latin other than novelty. As my rector from college would tell us, Latin is part of who we are and is precious, but it doesn’t have to be used for everything one possibly can, especially if one is given to being a little prideful about it; or to use a modern term, virtue signaling. (Plus questions of comparison and judementalism: Priests, even orthodox ones, can be rather catty gossips to and about one another.)

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