Question 1: Can you explain the  practice of Mass Offerings?

The Church  encourages priests when they say Mass to do so for an intention, particularly  for those in need. They are to do this whether or not they have received an  offering from one of the faithful to say Mass for a special intention. In  requesting a Mass the faithful are asking that the priest make their intention  his own. This practice grew within the Church over time and is now a long  established tradition. A Mass offering thus given as a form of sacrifice is a  means by which the faithful associate themselves more closely with the
sacrifice of the Mass.

Question 2: How do I arrange for a  Mass to be celebrated?

The best  practice in relation to arranging for a Mass to be celebrated for a particular  intention is to buy an unsigned Mass card and have it signed at a Church or by  a priest you know. This priest will then either celebrate the Mass himself or  pass it on to another priest (or religious order/ missionary society), who will  then celebrate the Mass for the intentions of the donor.

Question 3: Who do you support with  your Mass offering?

The Mass  offering is a contribution to the upkeep of priests and since many Mass  offerings are passed on to priests on the Missions, those who make an offering Mass participate in the missionary work of the Church.

Question 4: In the case where a  priest receives a lot of Mass offerings each day how do I know that Mass is celebrated for my particular intention?

The priest  who receives the offering for Mass has an obligation to apply Mass for the  specific intention of the person who has made the offering. He is to celebrate  Mass within a reasonable time. Irrespective of how many Masses he celebrates in  a day, a priest may only keep an offering for one Mass per day. If a priest  receives too many Mass intentions he must transfer any surplus Mass offerings,  in total, to another priest. Normally these offerings will be sent to priests  working in needy areas or to priests working on the missions.

Question 5: What is Church law on the  sale of Mass Cards?

The Church’s  norms and regulations about Mass offerings are clearly set out in the 1983 Code of canon Law and in the 1991 Decree  Mos lugiter. The Eucharist, the  ‘source and summit of the Christian Life’, is at the heart of our belief and  the Church has strict rules to govern the practice of Mass offerings so that  even the appearance of trafficking or trading is to be entirely excluded from  Mass offerings (Canon 947). Having  signed or stamped Mass cards for sale to the public in shops and other  commercial outlets is a practice that is not approved by the Irish Episcopal  conference, the Major Religious Superiors or the Superiors of Missionary  because it undermines a correct understanding of the Eucharist.

Question 6: What is the law in the  Ireland on the sale of Mass cards?

Since 1  September 2009, theCharities Act  2009 regulates the sale of Mass cards in Ireland. Under this Act, the sale of  Mass cards requires an ‘arrangement’ by which a Bishop or Religious Superior  must give permission for signed Mass cards to be sold. The Act also lays down  penalties to ensure that this law is kept. From the Church’s point of view, in  Ireland the bishops and Religious Superiors of this country are the only ones  who could make such an ‘arrangement’.

(In Antrim  Parish unsigned Mass cards can be obtained at the parish office during office hours, ie 10.30-15.30.)


March 2011