All About Mass Intentions

Every Mass is offered for the salvation of the whole world! As such, every Mass has always been offered at all times and in all places for everybody and anybody. All our prayer intentions count. All our petitions are of infinite equal value before God. That is how important all our prayers are to God!

In the Middle Ages, some priests discovered that parishioners were willing to pay them to pray for them. Some entrepreneurial priests took advantage of this pray-for-pay opportunity and became quite wealthy in the process.

The mass-marketing techniques of these priests were quite lucrative for them. Priests set their own prices for their Masses, and were able to obtain numerous paid intentions for the same Mass. They even celebrated additional Masses each day to further increase their stipend revenues.

The Council of Trent reformed questionable practices like this by first of all prohibiting the sale of Indulgences altogether. In retrospect, they probably should have forgone the sale of Masses as well. However, they decided to regulate Mass stipends instead, which created a new set of problems.

The result of the stipend reforms was a complicated set of rules about how much a priest could charge for each Mass, how many times a day he could celebrate a Mass, and what he had to do with the extra stipend money if he had to celebrate a second Mass on the same day for pastoral reasons.

So, although the priest could still pray for as many intentions as possible at any Mass, he could only accept money for one intention for each Mass. Somehow, people mistook all of this to mean that the Mass for which they paid was only offered for their one intention to the exclusion of all others.

To make up for the loss of stipend revenue caused by these reforms, some priests began publishing and announcing Mass Intentions in order to fill all of the available openings for Mass Intentions. However, church law only requires priests to keep an accounting book for their Mass stipend money.

To this day, people still routinely come into parish offices to buy Masses. Some are only willing to make their purchase if they can have their Mass at certain times on certain dates. Thus, the trafficking in Masses continues.

What difference is there between a paid Mass Intention and all the unpaid other Special Intentions at a Mass? Since all our prayer requests are of infinite equal value in the eyes of God, there is no real actual difference!

Since the verbiage of buying and selling Masses is rather off-putting, some people try to rebrand it as support for the charitable work of the church. However, that is what the offertory collection at Mass is for. So, please give generously each week at the offertory when you attend Sunday Mass! And thank you for your support of your parish community!

With the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, we should realize more fully than ever what it means when the priest prays that “my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty” before he begins the Eucharistic Prayer. All our prayer intentions are included! All of them!

With the papal critique of price lists for the sacraments, is it ethically moral to continue the mass-marketing of stipends for prayers? Aren’t we all just fellow disciples, praying with and for each other as we celebrate the holy sacraments together as one faith community? That is what it’s all about!

Once you know the complicated history of Mass Intentions, you should be able to comprehend how today, with less priests and less Masses, these mass-marketing techniques for stipends are at a crossroads. As demand outpaces supply, the trafficking in stipend money is becoming rather futile.

Can’t we all just freely pray for each other at Mass? Can’t we see that a “special” intention is a misnomer? All our prayer intentions are not only special, but they are all of infinite value when we offer them up during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is what our prayer requests are really all about!

So, please keep your prayerful intentions in mind each time you participate at Mass. Write your intentions in the book of prayer requests in the narthex, so that the priest and all your fellow parishioners can pray for you as well. Then keep your intention in mind as you worthily receive Holy Communion.

Like salvation, which is the free and unmerited gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, everything is already ours in faith. Through the holy sacraments, our prayers are answered as heaven takes notice of all that we truly need and want in faith. Whatever we ask for in Jesus’ name, God grants us!

In the meantime  we will continue to accept paid Mass Intentions in accord with church regulations, until people start realizing that they already have everything that they think they are paying for – that is, prayers for all their personal intentions at Mass. Let us pray with them and for them at Mass!

May God answer all your prayers, whether at Mass or during your own personal devotions throughout the day! Come to Mass, pray the Rosary, light a candle, spend time in meditation, contemplation, adoration, and more. Make the Mass the high point of your daily prayer life and you will be blessed! 

God hears all our prayers when they come from our hearts. What is in your heart today? Although God already knows what is in your heart, he loves it when you speak to him softly in prayerful petitions for all your needs. God is always listening, and is waiting for your response to him in prayer each day.

So, at Mass, when the priest lifts up the bread at the offertory, prayerfully place your intentions on that plate as well. And when the priest pours the water into the wine of the chalice, prayerfully pour your tears of sorrow and joy into that cup as well. Then come to Communion with all of this in mind!

Special Intentions at our Church

Saint Dennis Church welcomes all your prayer requests. We are happy to pray for you and your intentions, and we have four ways of doing so. Please make use of all these prayerful opportunities. They are all important.

First, we have an online prayer list that we email to our parishioners who have subscribed to this service. To join, please contact the parish office.

Second, we have a book of prayer requests in the narthex of the church. Please write your intention in this book so that we can all pray for you.

Third, the parish office can write your prayer intention in this book for you, for any day you request. Please contact the parish office for this service.

Fourth, we are still accepting a limited number of Mass Intentions for the openings reserved for this purpose. Please contact the parish office.

Every Mass is offered for all of these prayer requests together, whether public or private. All our prayer requests are of equal spiritual importance. In that sense, every prayer intention is truly “special” to God our loving Father.

Mass Intentions at our Church

There are limited openings in our parish calendar for Mass Intentions. Only one intention may be scheduled for each Mass. If your requested date and time are not available, please use our book of special intentions instead.

The quantity of Mass Intentions that may be requested at any one given time is at the discretion of the parish secretary in consultation with the pastor. This is to leave room for more people to schedule their own Mass Intentions.

The full prayer requests of the Mass Intentions and the names of their donors are published in the book of special intentions in the narthex. Please add your additional prayer requests to this special book each time you come to church.

The names of those for whom we are praying will be published in the church bulletin, for the priest to announce at Mass. However, the Mass Intention is only one among the many intentions that we pray for at each Mass.

No Mass is ever offered for only one intention to the exclusion of all others. All our prayer requests are of equal and infinite value. Whether announced or not, God hears all our prayers when we lovingly turn to him in faith.

Please click here for an informative pamphlet about Mass Intentions at our parish. May God answer all your prayers!
Together, let us celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the salvation of the whole world and for our own needs as well.
Then the Holy Eucharist will truly be the source and summit of our prayer lives as Catholic Christian believers.

Vigil Lights in our Chapel

Lighting a candle for a Special Intention is also a traditional religious practice. As part of the Eucharistic Revival in our country, we would like to install vigil lights in our Blessed Sacrament Chapel. If you would like to make a donation toward this special project, or to obtain more information about it, please contact the parish office. Thank you for all of your prayer requests!