Mass Intentions & Offerings
The Church has long maintained a custom of offering Masses for particular intentions. In times and places when the priest did not have a salary, the faithful would bring offerings of food and other necessities to provide for their priest. These offerings were not payment for Mass. The offerings are a physical way for the faithful to show their spiritual intention at Mass. The priest accepted these offerings and celebrated Mass for the spiritual intentions requested by the faithful.
Today, when someone requests a Mass to be celebrated for a particular intention and gives a donation to the church, they are not “buying” a Mass. They are making a physical offering to the Church that represents their spiritual intention. The recommended offering is $15 ($5 goes to the parish and $10 to the priest). This practice continues as a way to remind people of the reality of sacrifice. The Mass is the ultimate Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross to save us from sin. We come to Mass to participate in Christ’s Sacrifice and to receive the graces of His Sacrifice. Our physical sacrifice of money to support the parish and the priest is an important way to strengthen our spiritual investment in the Church and the Mass.
In light of the connection between monetary offerings and Mass intentions, the tradition also developed that the priest would celebrate the Sunday Mass for all of his people. This custom has become law and is known as the Missa Pro Populo: Code of Canon Law, Can. 534 §1: “After a pastor has taken possession of his parish, he is obliged to apply a Mass for the people (missa pro populo) entrusted to him on each Sunday and holy day of obligation in his diocese. If he is lawfully impeded from this celebration, he is to have someone else apply the Mass on these days or apply it himself on other days.” Due to the fact that many pastors are in charge of more than one parish, there is a provision made so that there can be other Mass intentions on a weekend: Can. 534 §2: “A pastor who has the care of several parishes is bound to apply only one Mass for the entire people entrusted to him on the days mentioned in §1.”
These considerations lead me to two points: The first is to encourage you to make more offerings for Mass intentions. Requesting Mass intentions is an important way to pray for particular intentions, especially for deceased loved ones. This physical investment helps us to be more spiritually invested in the parish and Mass. Currently, most of our weekday Masses are being offered for intentions requested by parishioners from other parishes because so few Masses are requested by our own parishioners. The second point is to emphasize that your Mass intention can’t always be on a Sunday. All parishioners are supporting the parish, and that’s why the Missa Pro Populo is a Sunday Mass. Consider, when you request a Mass intention, requesting a weekday Mass. Also, given the upcoming changes to the Mass schedule, some previously requested Mass intentions that were scheduled on weekends will need to be moved. I apologize for this change, but it is necessary. The Missa Pro Populo will now rotate between the three parishes, so one out of three Sunday Masses in Mattawa will be a Missa Pro Populo.