Last week, we briefly considered the meaning of the Mass as the “sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.”
We observed that this is how God the Son chose to make the power and mercy of his sacrificial death present to all peoples and in all places in a special way every time we gather before His altar. Now, we move on to consider the further question: “what does it mean to have a Mass offered for someone?”
We have already established that the fullness of the reality of Christ’s saving death and resurrection is made present upon the altar and offered to God the Father every time we celebrate the Mass. Therefore, the Mass is, in effect, the most powerful font of grace, supernatural gifts, and mercy that can be conceived. Indeed, all other blessings that we can experience in this life (and the next) ultimately have their source and origin in the Mass.
The infinite grace that pours forth in the Mass has traditionally been understoond as being of three types: impetratory, propitiatory, and satisfactory. These are technical words that basically mean that every time the Mass is offered we can obtain special blessings that we seek, protection from evil, and the remission of sin and its consequence (purgatory).
These supernatural gifts, then, can be directed toward particular groups, individuals, or intentions. For example, every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, the pastor is obliged to offer at least one Mass for the faithful of God in the parish. Also, my grandparents regularly ask me to offer a Mass for my uncle Don who has died. Additionally, Masses could be offered for specific intentions like physical or psychological healing, freedom from addiction, for a loved one on a special occasion, for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, and any other special intention one might have. Now, since the Mass is the sacrifice of God Himself for our sake, there is no limit to the grace or fruits of the Mass. The only limit to the power of the Mass is our ability to receive its fruits, which depends on the extent to which we have opened our hearts to God and his will for our lives through our ongoing process of conversion.
When asking to have a Mass offered, it has been customary for individuals to make a sacrificial gift. Though this gift is used for the good of the parish, the principle reason for making a sacrificial offering is so that one can enter with his or her sacrifice into the sacrifice of Christ, to unite his or her offering with the offering of Christ on the cross. In this way, one can fully and personally participate in the Mass in which a particular grace or blessing is sought.
So, in summary, why have a Mass offered?
Simply put, there is no more powerful prayer that can be offered for an intention or an individual.
How does one do this?
If you have an individual or intention for which you would like to have a Mass offered, simply contact your parish secretary. It is as simple as that.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!