What if I told you the most important event in human history happens every single day? It happens in our communities, maybe even down the road from our homes. It takes place in local churches, often on a modest altar dressed in white.
And the pinnacle of this event? It comes in the form of bread and wine.
This event bends time and space and unites us to God himself. This magnificent, mysterious and awe-inspiring event is the Catholic Mass.
What is the Catholic Mass?
The Mass is the highest form of worship in the Catholic Church. Members of the Body of Christ come together and enter into the celebration of Christ’s Passion in which he becomes fully present in the Eucharist. The Eucharist has the appearance of bread and wine but becomes the “Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest” in the Mass.
This celebration is not merely a reenactment, but the same, real sacrifice taking place. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“The victim is one and the same: the same now offered through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner” (CCC 1367).
The Catholic Mass comprises two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The Liturgy of the Word consists of readings from Scripture. On Sunday there is often one reading from the Old Testament, one reading from the New Testament, and the proclamation of the Gospel. Through the Scriptures in the Liturgy of the Word ”God speaks to us, leading us along the path to salvation.”
The Liturgy of the Eucharist is a prayer of thanksgiving. It is the pinnacle of the Mass, the time when Jesus becomes fully present to us. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, offers the bread and wine on the altar and joins them to Christ’s perfect sacrifice.
Since the Catholic Mass is the most powerful form of prayer, it is a common practice to have it offered for a specific intention. Having a Mass said for someone is a powerful way to intercede or pray for them on their behalf. This is commonly referred to as a Catholic Mass intention or Mass request.
What Is a Mass Intention?
A Mass intention is a specific petition for which the Mass is offered. Mass intentions can be requested on behalf of another living person—for example, the healing of someone who is sick or to commemorate a wedding anniversary. However, Mass intentions are most commonly offered in remembrance of a person who has died.
Offering Mass Intentions for Deceased Loved Ones
It may seem counterintuitive to offer a Mass intention for a person who has died, as their time on earth is finished. However, the practice of offering Mass intentions for the deceased relates to the Catholic belief in purgatory.
As Catholics, we believe souls who die in a state of sin go through a purification process before entering heaven. We offer Masses for our deceased loved ones to aid them in their journeys to heaven. We pray with hope that the graces imparted by the Mass usher them further towards eternity with God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “From the beginning, the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God” (CCC 1032).
The graces that come with having a Mass said for a special intention are immeasurable. The Mass unites the Church on earth to the Church in heaven. The intentions of the Mass are lifted by the Body of Christ in its entirety.
These graces are especially important for the dead, as they can no longer pray for themselves. Pope Francis said that offering the celebration of the Eucharist for the dead “is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to the most abandoned ones.”
How to Request a Mass Intention
Divine Word Missionaries are honored to receive Mass intentions and offer the gift of the Holy Mass for your loved one. You can request a Mass said by Divine Word Missionaries by visiting our website and filling out this online request form.
Submitted Mass intentions will be celebrated by our missionaries overseas. Your donation helps support our nearly 6,000 missionaries and the people they serve.
The graces acquired by having a Mass said for a special intention are beyond earthly comprehension. The Mass is the greatest prayer the Body of Christ can offer to God and therefore the most powerful means to help others and ourselves gain eternity with him.