How Do I Have a Mass Said for Someone?

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N.B.: This information is specific to Our Lady of Lourdes in Raytown, Missouri, and comes from the Parish Bulletin of 4 January 2015. Specific practices may vary at other parishes.

“The grace of mutual love among the living, strengthened and increased by the sacrament of the Eucharist, flows, especially by virtue of the Sacrifice [of the Mass], to all who belong to the communion of saints. For the communion of saints is simply … the mutual sharing of help, atonement, prayers and benefits among the faithful, those already in the heavenly fatherland, those consigned to the purifying fire, and those still making their pilgrim way here on earth. These all form one city, whose head is Christ, and whose vital principle is love. Faith teaches that although the august Sacrifice can be offered to God alone, it can nevertheless be celebrated in honor of the saints now reigning in Heaven with God, who has crowned them, to obtain their intercession for us, and also, according to apostolic tradition, to wash away the stains of those brethren who died in the Lord but without yet being wholly purified.” — Pope Leo XIII, Mirae caritatis (1902)

An individual may ask a priest to offer a Mass for a specific intention for a number of reasons. This could be done, for example, in thanksgiving or in petition for a specific intention. It is also very common to ask for a Mass to be said for the repose of the soul of a deceased friend or family member.

When a priest reverently and validly offers Mass in accord with the norms of the Church, it is in union with and for the good of the entire Church. It can simultaneously be offered for specific intentions, such as the repose of a persons soul or for a specific intention, which need not be made public and could simply be “for the intentions of <Name>.”

A stipend is customarily paid to the priest for offering a Mass for a specific intention. This stipend is usually $10 and is used at the discretion of the priest for his own upkeep or for acts of charity in which he engages.

The process of having a Mass said for a specific intention is simple. Place a note that says something to the effect of “I would like to have a Mass said on or around <date> for <intention>. Enclosed, please find a stipend of <$##>.” in an envelope and put it in the collection basket, bring it to the office, or deliver it to Deacon Richard, who keeps the Mass schedule. If the date you have requested is open, your intention will be scheduled for that time. If not, it will be scheduled for the nearest open spot. (As you can imagine, Masses are schedule on a first-available basis, and once a Mass is scheduled it cannot be moved without a grave reason.)

If you have questions, please contact Deacon Richard either at richard@richardgross.net or at 816.679-8974.  (And, please!, even though a stipend is given to the priest, please do not refer to this as “buying a Mass.” Masses cannot be bought or sold and Deacon Richard finds the phrase “buying a Mass” slightly more irritating than a jellyfish sting. Please don’t give Deacon Richard a rash.)

From the Desk of Deacon Richard. . .

Dear Parish Family:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

These are the words of Simeon, spoken in the longer form of today’s Gospel reading. It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. Legend suggests that Simeon was advanced in years well beyond the mortal span when he did finally behold Christ. Having seen the fulfillment of that promise, he was prepared to depart this world for the glory of the next.

Let us never take for granted what Simeon waited more than a lifetime to see. Every day at Mass we have the opportunity to see precisely what Simeon saw… we have the opportunity to see daily what for the righteous and devout Simeone was the culmination of a lifetime of prayer and dedication.

When Father elevates the host at Mass, we see Christ. He is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. We should encounter Our Lord in the Eucharist in the same way that Simeon encounter the baby Jesus: with joy and by blessing God. It is through God’s love that Simeon recognized the baby Jesus as the Christ and it is that same love that drives us to seek Christ and to know that Our Lord is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament at Mass.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Homily for Sunday, December 21, 2014 — the Fourth Sunday of Advent

"The Annunciation" by Paolo de Matteis, 1712.

“The Annunciation” by Paolo de Matteis, 1712.

In today’s Gospel, Luke presents his account of the Annunciation. In this most holy event, the Virgin Mary discovers that she is to become the mother of God. There is a lot going on in the Gospel we encounter in this, the Fourth Sunday of Advent. There are also many misunderstandings about what is going on in this Gospel. At the center of it all, though, is Mary consenting to be the Mother of God… she agrees to bear the Lord and Savior. Though she does not immediately understand how this can be, nevertheless she assents to God’s divine will; she tells Gabriel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” This assent of Mary to God’s plan is key to our understanding the heart of this passage.

Some of you may know of Father Mitch Pacwa. He’s a priest who’s on television from time to time; he has written some books and speaks all across the country. I had the pleasure of meeting him and spending an afternoon with him one day. It was very unexpected. One of my college professors from Ave Maria is a personal friend of Father Pacwa’s and one day Father just walked into the classroom.

He spent the day with us and said something that really stuck with me. He told us that in his experience, the most successful priests — those who were most faithful to the calling — were the ones who had a deep relationship with the Blessed Mother.

This really intrigued me for two reasons. That was when I was still discerning my call to the permanent diaconate, and I reasoned that if it was true for priests it was probably equally true for deacons. In the years since, I have come to believe firmly that it is very true: if you want to truly live your calling, run to the Blessed Mother, cling to her, and never let go.

The second reason it intrigued me is that at that time, I didn’t have any sort of deep or personal relationship with the Blessed Mother. I had a very deep respect for her, but that was the extent of it. The tradition I came from did not really stress any sort of relationship with the Virgin Mary beyond that respect. It was clinical and historical — respect for a figure — but not a relationship with a person.

I thought to myself that Father Pacwa probably didn’t get the reputation he has for no reason. I figured I ought to give it a try. I ought to try to cultivate an actual relationship with our Blessed Mother.

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I don’t think I can really overstate how transformative that was. You see things through an entirely different lens. Now, this wasn’t an overnight occurrence. It took years; it’s still an ongoing process. I found that my tastes and interests changed, and changed for the better.

For example, if before turning on the television, you ask yourself, “Would my friend the Virgin Mary want to sit here and watch this with me?” and give an honest answer, you might find yourself not watching programs that you previously enjoyed. It’s not a matter of depriving yourself of them; it’s more a case of completely losing interest. Things that once seemed interesting become trite… boring… maybe even a bit repulsive. And certainly not worth spending time on.

Now, as I said, Father Pacwa spoke of priests, because that was the topic we were discussing that day. I think if Father were here now, he would be in total agreement with me when I state that a deep, genuine relationship with the Blessed Mother will make a better person of everyone. Priests. Laity. Bishops. Saints. Martyrs. And everyone in between. Some here today have that sort of relationship. I’ve seen it, and I’ve recognized it at work in the individual’s life. Some are working on it. Even those in the first category would say they are still working on it. I know I am. Like so many things in the spiritual life, it’s a journey — not a destination, because — after all — every friendship is a journey.

Some folks maybe aren’t thinking so much about such a relationship… yet. Maybe some of those folks are like I was when I heard Father Pacwa speak of a transformative relationship with Mary. If you’re in that group, maybe it’s not something you’ve encountered. It’s not something you’ve had an opportunity to consider. You might not know where to start. You might not know why to start.

What does Mary have that makes her the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Universe? Queen of Heaven and Earth? What does Mary have that she can teach to all of us who seek to be her friend?

Many things. Love. Obedience. Humility. If pride is the root of sin, then what Mary represents is the antithesis of sinful pride. It is the opposite of that which leads us into sin.

I hope you will agree with me that if we are receptive to the will of God, then we are obedient to God; we do what God desires us to do. God desires that we do not sin. God desires our authentic good. God wants the best for us. Therefore, when we are obedient to God we are acting in our own best interest. We are doing what leads to our authentic good. What better friend to have on that journey of coming to know, to love, and to serve God than the mother of Christ herself? If you want to learn what authentic human obedience should be, then Mary is the very model and exemplar of that virtue.

It is one thing to be obedient to God. After all, God is perfect… and as I just said, to be obedient to God is always to act in our own best interest. What about being obedient to another person? And why would you do such a thing? How about this: because you are growing in two other virtues of which Mary is a fine example — love and humility.

It is love — the desire to authentically love our neighbor as ourselves — and humility — the ability to recognize God as the origin of all that is good and to see the image of Christ in our neighbor — that leads us, with Immaculate Mary, to a holy obedience. This is not a pie-in-the-sky theory that I’m talking about; it’s not something that would be nice if everyone did it, but no one does and so no one should even bother. Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Yes. Is it necessary for our salvation? Well, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

We know that the path to destruction is wide and easy, while the road to salvation is narrow and few find it. It is smart to have a friend on that journey… especially when it can be someone who knows the road. I can think of no better guide than Mary our Mother, who always leads us to Christ. Mary’s eternal beauty shines in her love, humility, and obedience. If we make ourselves her friend and truly learn the lessons of virtue that she wants us to know, we will do well for ourselves as we journey on the narrow path toward Christ, who waits for us with open arms.

18

The Joint Ecumenical Declaration

Below is the Vatican-provided text of the joint declaration signed in Istanbul by His Holiness Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on November 30, 2014:

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COMMON DECLARATION

We, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, express our profound gratitude to God for the gift of this new encounter enabling us, in the presence of the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to celebrate together the feast of Saint Andrew, the first–called and brother of the Apostle Peter. Our remembrance of the Apostles, who proclaimed the good news of the Gospel to the world through their preaching and their witness of martyrdom, strengthens in us the aspiration to continue to walk together in order to overcome, in love and in truth, the obstacles that divide us.

On the occasion of our meeting in Jerusalem last May, in which we remembered the historical embrace of our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, we signed a joint declaration. Today on the happy occasion of this further fraternal encounter, we wish to re–affirm together our shared intentions and concerns.

We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox.

We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox. As well, we intend to support the theological dialogue promoted by the Joint International Commission, instituted exactly thirty–five years ago by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios and Pope John Paul II here at the Phanar, and which is currently dealing with the most difficult questions that have marked the history of our division and that require careful and detailed study. To this end, we offer the assurance of our fervent prayer as Pastors of the Church, asking our faithful to join us in praying “that all may be one, that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East. We are united in the desire for peace and stability and in the will to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While recognizing the efforts already being made to offer assistance to the region, at the same time, we call on all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of peoples to deepen their commitment to suffering communities, and to enable them, including the Christian ones, to remain in their native land. We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years. Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes.It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many. As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1Cor 12:26). This is the law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer, but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community.

As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1Cor 12:26). This is the law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity.

The grave challenges facing the world in the present situation require the solidarity of all people of good will, and so we also recognize the importance of promoting a constructive dialogue with Islam based on mutual respect and friendship. Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war. Moreover, as Christian leaders, we call on all religious leaders to pursue and to strengthen interreligious dialogue and to make every effort to build a culture of peace and solidarity between persons and between peoples. We also remember all the people who experience the sufferings of war. In particular, we pray for peace in Ukraine, a country of ancient Christian tradition, while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony.

Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war.

Our thoughts turn to all the faithful of our Churches throughout the world, whom we greet, entrusting them to Christ our Saviour, that they may be untiring witnesses to the love of God. We raise our fervent prayer that the Lord may grant the gift of peace in love and unity to the entire human family.

“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (2 Thess 3:16).

From the Phanar, 30 November 2014