When someone tells you that they offered up their Mass for you, what does that mean?
You can offer up many things - suffering, prayers, even masses - with certain intentions. For example, you may say a Hail Mary and offer it with the intention of the conversion of souls. Or you may stub your toe, and offer that pain to God for the conversion of sinners. God gives us all, and in return we can offer to Him everything that he gives us as well as penances and spiritual acts such as our mass.
The mass is first and foremost an offering of sacrifice of God, to God, as well as an offering of ourselves. When the priest offers up the host and the chalice at the mass, he says this prayer (in the Extraordinary Form):
Receive, O holy Trinity, this oblation which we make to Thee, in memory of the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the Saints, that it may avail unto their honor and our salvation, and may they vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate on earth. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
P. Brethren, pray that my Sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty.
S. May the Lord receive the Sacrifice from thy hands, to the praise and glory of His Name, to our benefit and that of all His holy Church.
Look with favor upon Your people, O Lord, look with favor upon their gifts; so that, appeased by this offering, You will grant us pardon and give us what we ask.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
When the prayers of offering are said during the mass, a person can also offer up themselves and their mass for personal intentions. For example, I often offer up my masses with the intention of asking for the sanctity of priests. I say a prayer such as this: “Lord, in union with the sacrifice of this mass, I place on this paten and in this chalice everything that I have, my hopes and dreams, my loves and hates, and most importantly, my will. I offer to you all that is important to me, and most meaningful to me, with the intention of [insert intention here].” The priest then offers up not only his own personal intentions (like you may see in the weekly bulletin), but offers up the intentions of all who are attending that mass.
Here’s a great homily about fixing intentions for Mass - I guarantee that after listening, you’ll never “waste” another mass again by not offering an intention!
that is a great explanation and a very useful link. Thank you.
It is an excellent post.