Mentioning the Mass Intention

And More on Multiple Chalices

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ROME, OCT. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.



Q: Unlike our present pastor, our former priest always would mention the intention for the Mass. Is this up to the individual priest? It gets printed in our bulletin, but I would hope the priest would mention who the Mass is for at some point, even though I know God knows who it is for. -- L.S., St. Louis, Missouri

A: While there are no universal laws regarding this topic, some dioceses have published norms with common-sense indications that all priests may take into account.

My reply is inspired by the norms issued by the Diocese of Rome.

There is no requirement to mention the priest's intention at the Mass. Thus, a mention in the bulletin or some other public notification is a legitimate option, especially when the pastor is aware that the person who requested the Mass will not be present at the celebration.

If the person or family who requested the intention wishes to be present, then it is good that the celebrant mention the name of the person for whom the Mass is being offered.

This may best be done either after the greeting at the beginning of Mass or as an intention of the prayer of the faithful.

The name should not normally be mentioned during the Eucharistic prayer. This naming is best left for funeral Masses, Masses at the notification of death, and significant anniversaries. The special formulas for funerals, especially in Eucharistic Prayers 2 and 3, were specifically composed with such occasions in mind and were not conceived for daily recitation.

It should be remembered that the Mass intention refers above all to the intention of the celebrating priest who took upon himself the commitment to celebrate for a specific intention when he accepted a stipend.

Since the Mass is infinite the priest may also have other personal intentions that may or may not be reflected in the Mass formula used.

For example, a priest may offer the Mass for a deceased soul while at the same time using the Mass formula "For Vocations," with the personal intention of asking God to bless the Church with abundant vocations.

Likewise, while any person assisting at Mass is free to associate his prayer with the intention of the priest celebrant, he or she is also free to offer up participation at the Mass for any number of personal intentions.

We also have dealt amply with the topic of intentions and stipends in our columns of Feb. 22 and March 8 in 2005.

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Follow-up: Using Multiple Ciboria and Chalices

In the wake of our comments on multiple vessels (Sept. 25) a reader asked: "When several chalices are prepared for a concelebrated Mass, my understanding is that it is correct to add water to the wine only in the 'main' chalice, and that it is not necessary to add water to the wine in all the chalices. Is there any official document in which this is specified?"

This point has been discussed by liturgists, but no consensus has been found. Nor am I aware of any official norms on this particular subject.

Some liturgists hold the position that it is sufficient to add water to the chalice of the principal chalice, which thus forms a moral unity with the other chalices for the purpose of consecration.

This argument is fairly solid from the theological standpoint, and there would certainly be no doubt that the consecration would be valid and licit.

It also solves the problem of the rather ungainly sight of a deacon or priest pouring a drop of water into several chalices already arrayed upon the altar.

It is not, however, universal liturgical practice. Many celebrants prefer to place water in all chalices, along with wine, so that all communicants can receive from wine that has been mixed with water according to ancient Church tradition.

This may be done in two ways. If there are only a couple of extra chalices, then wine and water, or just water (if the extra chalices are already prepared) may be placed in all of them during the preparation of the gifts.

If there are many chalices, then water and wine may be placed in all but the principal chalice when the chalices are prepared before Mass begins.

This latter solution is generally practiced by the Vatican sacristans for large concelebrations at St. Peter's.

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Readers may send questions to liturgy@zenit.org. Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.