Friday, March 6, 2009

Mass Intentions

Take a look at your average Catholic church bulletin, and you’ll find a schedule of masses for the week. Typically, you’ll also see listed an intention for the scheduled mass. The practice of applying masses for specific intentions is recognized in the Code of Canon Law (see canons 901 and 945-958). According to the Commentary, the Church does not have any firm doctrine on what it precisely means to “apply the Mass.”

In a 2005 question and answer published by the Zenit news agency, Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University provided the following opinion:

Any Catholic may offer up the Mass in which he or she participates for any good intention. Certainly, graces will accrue in accordance with the intensity of that person's participation and sincerity.

This is a genuine exercise of the royal or common priesthood of the faithful.

However, the custom of requesting a priest to offer the Mass for a specific intention, even when one cannot be physically present at the Mass, is a longstanding tradition in the Church.

This is because the Church considers the Mass as the greatest possible prayer of intercession insofar as it is the perfect offering of Christ to the Father by making present the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection.

Because of the particular role of the priest as mediator between God and man, acting "in persona Christi" when offering the holy sacrifice of the Mass, it is usually considered that special graces may be obtained when he applies the Mass to a particular intention.
And so, when I saw that last Sunday’s mass at St. Joseph in Egypt would be offered for members of the Kuether family. I decided that I should attend. You see, my grandmother was a Kuether. In some mysterious way, it seemed as though my participation in a mass offered for her (among others), might somehow be more efficacious. Of course, the mass, being the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, is already of infinite value. What could I possibly add to it?

I keep the holy card from my grandmother’s funeral in my Office of Readings. It’s one of the nicest holy cards I’ve seen. My Mom’s mother had 13 children, 57 grandchildren, and 84 great grandchildren. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of cousins running around, and that’s just on my Mom’s side. My cousins on my Dad’s side are a little more dispersed and mostly older than I am – I don’t know them as well. When you consider that my in-laws were both from families of 13 children, you can guess how many cousins my wife has out there. Let’s just say that if our kids marry local, they’ll have to trace back their geneologies to ensure they aren’t related to closely!


Anonymous said...

I've researched enough of my family and come to the conclusion that if you are from the area and married someone from the area - you're probably related. My parents are related twice over. My husband and I are related. Scary to some, normal for the area.

Kurt H said...

Indeed. I am something like sixth cousin to my mother-in-law.