The question is loaded. Interpreted one way, it implies the Church sells spiritual goods like ecclesiastical offices (simony) or indulgences (cf. Johann Tetzel). Interpreted another way, the inquirer simply wants to know what the common offering is for obtaining a special intention at a Mass for a person (living or deceased) in need, not to imply the spiritual effect could be “bought,” but to serve as a stipend for the not-for-profit pastor/parish and render more personal those special intentions for which a Mass is offered. Fr. Earl Fernandes, Dean of the Athenaeum, explains the issue in this his most recent article for The Catholic Telegraph.
Dear Father, How is a priest to handle a request for a Mass to be said for an intention from a lay person? I understand a donation is not necessary but usually accepted. Is it covered in the Catechism?
The Code of Canon Law answers your question, especially canons 945-958, which address the offering for the celebration of Mass. Sometimes this offering is called a stipend. While the Christian faithful make their offering in the collection basket, sometimes an offering is made for a special intention for the Mass. The person making the offering desires that the priest remember that intention, a particular person or need at the Mass, uniting that person or intention more closely to the action of the priest.
The Council of Trent teaches that Mass may be offered “for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities.” The “fruits of the Mass” – remembering that Mass is the offering of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (now in an unbloody manner) –bring about the remission of sins for the living and the dead and build up the Church. Some theologians speak of the general fruits of the Mass, which are applied to the whole Church, and of the “the special fruits” of the Mass which are applied to the specific intention of the donor and the priest who offers the Mass.
Continue reading How Much Does a Mass Cost?