Intention question

Hello all…

I recently moved from a town near Madison, WI to a small town about 1/2 hour outside of Milwaukee.

After the prayers of the congregation are said, the priest invites people to lift up their own intentions by saying them outloud, one by one.

I’ve never seen or heard of this before. Is this common done? Is it appropriate?

Just curious…

I’ve been to Masses where this is done, but its usually a Mass for a small group on retreat, or some other special event.

I see nothing wrong with it, unless the group is too large to make it manageable.


In some areas this is rather common, in others it isn’t. The instructions on Mass do say that the people can be responsible for offering their own intentions, but I either read or was told that this was never meant to institute spontaneous offerings of intentions in Mass but was rather directed toward given the congregation the ability to draft the intentions in preparation for Mass.

Once you’ve been to enough Masses with spontaneous intentions to encounter some of which you are not sure the congregation should really be praying for, you can see why it could be a bad idea to allow this practice.

That could be inserted in the “Prayers of the Faithful” portion of the Holy Mass depending on the quantity of people present. If there are 1000 people there it would consume a lot of hours if they should recite one prayer each. Anyway, God knows what we need before we even say it.

It is not appropriate for people in the congregation to call out the intentions at Mass. It is not following the instructions in the Roman Missal.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from :
“138. After the recitation of the Creed, the priest, standing at the chair with hands joined, by means of a brief introduction invites the faithful to participate in the Prayer of the Faithful. Then the cantor, the lector, or another person announces the intentions from the ambo or from some other suitable place** while facing the people**, who take their part by responding in supplication.”

The GIRM is a “General” instruction, not absolute law.


I agree.

Just another odd novelty. Hey check out this site:

It looks like there is a traditional Mass at St. Stanislaus on Sunday at 10 AM.

524 W Mitchell St
Milwaukee, WI 53204-3509

That is a misunderstanding of what “general” means in this context. “General” here means that it applies broadly, that is, this instruction provides the basic liturgical law for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite. There is no implication that specific celebrations may deviate from the GIRM.

The GIRM itself says:

  1. …] the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.

Where the GIRM provides options, they are clearly indicated.

And the GIRM states that the Bishop, has the authority on how it is carried out and to insure accuracy according.

As a result, those who read the GIRM literally are often at odds with their local diocesan Bishop.


Sorry, I didn’t realize that the archbishop of Milwaukee had given an indult for this practice.

The GIRM is part of a liturgical book, the Roman Missal. The Code of Canon Law has in canon 846 “The liturgical books, approved by the competent authority, are to be faithfully followed in the celebration of the sacraments.”

Before a priest is ordained as a bishop he takes an Oath of Fidelity, which includes: “I shall foster the common discipline of the whole Church, and I shall insist on the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those which are contained in the Code of Canon Law.”

The bishop does not have the authority to change what the GIRM n. 138 says about the person announcing the intentions “facing the people”. The things an individual diocesan bishop can decide are described in GIRM n. 387: “… It is to him that in this Instruction is entrusted the regulating of the discipline of concelebration (cf. above, nos. 202, 374) and the establishing of norms regarding the function of serving the priest at the altar (cf. above, no. 107), the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds (cf. above, no. 283), and the construction and ordering of churches (cf. above, no. 291). …”.

2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from
The Code of Canon Law: New revised English Translation, HarperCollins Liturgical, 1997, ISBN 000599375X.
John Huels, The Pastoral Companion, Franciscan Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8199-0968-8, page 379…

Thank you John for giving citations for two important facts:

  1. The GIRM is, indeed, ecclesiastical law.

  2. A bishop’s authority over adaptations to the liturgy are specifically defined and not absolute.

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