Why have intentions at Mass?
The Mass makes present the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. There is no greater prayer, because the Mass is the perfect offering of the Son of God to his Father.
Who can offer up an intention at Mass?
Any Catholic may offer up the Mass in which he or she participates for any good intention. At Mass you are free to associate your prayer with the intention of the priest, or you are free to offer up participation at the Mass for any number of personal intentions. Graces will accrue according to the intensity of your participation and your sincerity.
How is that different to the priest’s intention at Mass?
The priest has a particular role as mediator between God and man. It is the priest who offers the sacrifice of the Mass. He acts ‘in persona Christi’ (‘in the person of Christ’), and so special graces may be obtained when he applies the Mass to a particular intention.
Why is there only one intention for each Mass?
The Mass has an infinite value so there is no limit to the number of intentions that can be offered. The priest offers Mass for the good of the whole Church and for a particular intention. Just like everyone else, he might also have his own personal and private intentions. However, the Mass is a sacred treasure and not a means of raising money, so the Church has very strict laws which restricts the priest to only accept a single stipend.
For whom can Mass be offered? Is it only for Catholics?
Mass can be offered for anyone, or any number of people, living or dead, with some exceptions. They do not have to be Catholics, but the offering must not cause scandal to the faithful, and it must not be for an intention that offends against Christian sentiment. You can also ask for Mass to be offered for a “private intention” if you do not want the recipient known.
What happens to the stipend? How much is it?
Offering a stipend for a Mass intention is a way of contributing to the upkeep of your priests. It is a donation, but the diocese recommends £10. A priest’s salary each year (which is not a lot!) comes from Mass stipends, offerings for baptisms, weddings, funerals, and the Christmas and Easter offerings.
No one can “pay for Mass” or “buy a Mass”.
The “Mass intention” refers to the interior intention of the priest when he offers the Mass. It is done to obtain special graces for that intention. As the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross it is of infinite value and no one can “buy Mass” or “pay for Mass”. The Mass does not “belong” to anyone.