Honoring Mass Intentions

10-28-2018Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

It has come to my attention that I have unknowingly caused some confusion regarding Mass intentions here at St. Rose. As well as the intention being announced in the bulletin, it has been a practice in this parish to include the priest's intention for the Mass in the General Intercessions (now also referred to as the Universal Prayer).

Let me begin by giving a brief explanation of Mass intentions. Every time a priest offers Mass, he should form an interior intention for the disposition of the infinite graces associated with that Mass. It has been a long-standing and praiseworthy custom in the Church for the lay faithful to request an intention for the priest to offer at a particular Mass. (This request has traditionally been accompanied with an offering. In former times -- and still in many parts of the world -- these Mass offerings and the stipends offered for the celebration of other sacraments were the main way that priests were supported financially. That is not the case in our diocese and so the offering goes to the parish, but many missionaries, for example, still basically live off of Mass offerings.) Masses can be offered for any person, living or dead. As well as the intention of the priest, who offers the Mass in the person of Christ as both priest and victim, all of the lay faithful attending Mass can and should form an intention for the infinite graces of the Mass. You may remember the pious custom of "spiritual bouquets" when you promised to offer a certain number of Masses, rosaries, or other prayers for a particular intention. It is important for all of us to be intentional about our prayers!

As you can see, the priest's intention for a Mass is an interior act by him. A public announcement is not necessary or really even any part of the intention being offered. I would also add that the General Intercessions or Universal Prayer is not a good place to include the priest's personal intention. The petitions at Mass are intended to be the "general" and "universal" prayers of all present for the Mass. In contrast, each of the faithful, as well as the priest, should have his own personal intention for the Mass. Finally, the General Intercessions or Universal Prayer is an optional part of the Mass. Here at St. Rose, for example, we omit it at the 7:00am Masses in order to be mindful of the time constraints of those going to work or school. Please be assured that the priests of the parish are very conscientious about the Mass intentions being offered correctly so that you can be confident of the intentions being honored.


Fr. Baker