Paying for a mass


#1

So long story short my wife and i got married 3 years ago in hawaii and six months later had our marriage blessed by the catholic church. My wife is catholic and i was going through RCIA at the time it was blessed. I have since been confirmed. Anyway, my wife grandmother is from central america and very old school catholic. She is still to this day extremely displeased that there was no mass at our marriage blessing, since i was not technically catholic yet. She is insisting that we re-do it now that i am catholic, a request we have denied because it seems unnessesary and insulting to our priest. But she keeps insisting that we find a particular preist so she can pay for a mass for us. Is this an old world custom? Ive googled the topic and found very little and even asked our priest and he’s confused as well. Anyone know anything about this sort of thing?


#2

Could you do it on your anniversary? That might make sense. My parents had their 25th anniversary celebrated at the end of Mass; however, it was a small rural parish. I have 2 years to figure out our plan!


#3

Wow! What a great idea! Have the wedding Mass on your anniversary! Can do nothing but help!
Good luck & God Bless!


#4

The nuptial mass does not validate your marriage – this was already done by your priest, hence no need to go back and add a mass to somehow make it better or more valid. That’s a quirk of your grandmother. Since most marriages are celebrated within the context of a mass, she probably assumes, wrongly, that the mass is what makes it lawful. Not so. You may need to tactfully explain to her that she is misinformed and her attitude is upsetting to you and your spouse. In other words, Grannny, MYOB. :wink:


#5

You cannot “redo” your wedding or “redo” your vows in a mass in order to satisfy your grandmother-in-law. It isn’t possible to do your vows again.

What she can do is have a mass intention said for you and your marriage. If she does that locally where she lives, or makes a request to have the mass said in your local parish, then someone from the family can attend the Mass that honors your marriage, perhaps as others have suggested on your anniversary.

But again, you are not having another wedding, you are not having a nuptial mass, this would simply be a Mass intention. Perhaps she means a Mass intention anyway, since yes it is very common to have masses said for people.


#6

Thank you for yiur help! She is so insistent on us doing this i felt it warranted some research. It is certainly a test if my patience. Its an odd scenario with a very stubborn woman. I appricate your input.


#7

If having an Mass said for the intention of your marriage, or even one where your marriage is blessed on an anniversary, makes the older woman happy, then do it. This doesn’t have to be a ‘big thing’. Sometimes it’s just better to go along and make them happy. Think of it as swallowing your pride or ‘right’ for the bigger happiness of someone else. It won’t hurt (much), I promise.


#8

Others answered the marriage part…just a note:

requesting a Mass to be said --even where there is a small offering offered - it would not be “paying for a mass” but giving an offering. One cannot pay for a Mass. (helping clarify a bit the language etc).


#9

Actually that is one of the major sticking points: she insists on PAYING for a mass. We keep telling her that we will have a mass intention read but that’s not good enough. She insists (on a weekly basis mind you) that we find one of her old priests (because in her words “Your priest isn’t catholic enough”) and pay for a mass with him. Is this possibly and old world central American, pre Vatican II custom?

The other part in all honesty is that she wants this done for her, not really for us or for God. So I feel the intention isn’t in the right place, which is why we are not just giving in to her.


#10

One may not “pay for a Mass” such is the sin of simony. No matter if before or after the last Council (Vatican II). One may give an offering for a Mass to be said. But that is not and cannot be “paying” for it. That is likely what she means -it is lost perhaps in translation.

Canon Law:

Can. 945 §1. In accord with the approved practice of the Church, any priest celebrating or concelebrating is permitted to receive an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention.

§2. It is recommended earnestly to priests that they celebrate Mass for the intention of the Christian faithful, especially the needy, even if they have not received an offering.

Can. 946 The Christian faithful who give an offering to apply the Mass for their intention contribute to the good of the Church and by that offering share its concern to support its ministers and works.

Can. 947 Any appearance of trafficking or trading is to be excluded entirely from the offering for Masses.

(trafficking…that is paying for …buying…)

( from [www.vatican.va IntraText version)](www.vatican.va IntraText version))


#11

Thank you Bookcat that is actually very helpful. May just get her off our back!!


#12

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things. To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!” Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.” It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2121.htm

Now as I noted there can be honest confusion about such or things lost in translation (I am sure she is not intending here any sin…I am not saying she is of course…and care may be needed in telling her…).


#13

I’m sure she isn’t intending on sinning. There is a component of some age related dementia, sprinkled in with the fact she still thinks the catholic church functions as it did in 1950’s small town Nicaragua, which may or may not be very different than today’s US version. Ultimately she’s upset that there wasn’t a eucharist at our marriage blessing and I wasn’t confirmed yet, so she’s sees the whole thing as invalid.


#14

Your grandmother appears to have had very little catechetical training; and this is not particularly anything stunning or out of the ordinary.

It was very clear, before Vatican 2, that people gave a stipend when requesting that a Mass be said. The simplistic understanding of that was that they were paying for the Mass. I would imagine that the only marriages she knew of, were done during a nuptial Mass. Marriage between a Catholic and a non Catholic was discouraged, to put it mildly; and if people were aware of a Catholic marrying a non Catholic, the marriage often was considered by many to be tinged - with what you can fill in the blank. It definitely would have been considered second rate at best.

You are not going, at this time in her life, to educate her. She knows what she was taught, and anything else will be viewed with at best, suspicion of “changing what the Church taught”. If you love her, humor her. If you don’t love her, go your own way. But don’t plan on changing her or educating her. She cares about you, even if that care is a bit misdirected.

It is not unheard of for couples to renew their vows. They are not getting “remarried”; they are not getting married for a second time. They are simply renewing their vows, something that can have deep meaning to the couple, particularly if they have been married long enough that the all too prevalent problem of taking each other a bit for granted has set in.

If it were me, I would find a way to accommodate her. It really shouldn’t be all that hard.


#15

It’s good for you to understand what’s been posted. Consider whether or not you want to actually try to explain this to her…think long and hard about that before trying it.

Here’s another thought. There is a blessings for a married couple in the official Book of Blessings (every priest has one handy) and it can be done within the context of Mass.

There is also a “Blessing for Wedding Anniversaries” (in which the couple can reaffirm their vows) in the Roman Ritual which any priest could do, assuming he has the book (actually, one of several books).
Here’s a site that has it typed-out
catholicism.org/blessing-for-a-golden-wedding-anniversary-traditional-rite.html

I’m not endorsing the site as a whole (not by a long shot)—it’s simply that I found the blessing typed-out for us there. It might be just what you’re looking for.


#16

The previous poster has good advice. There are rites for doing a vow renewal. It is not a marriage ceremony, and my understanding is it is not part of Mass. I see no reason why you couldn’t have it immediately before or after a Mass though, if it would make her happy. If she has dementia especially it may be very hard for her to understand your marriage. Just make sure the priest she has in mind is a genuine Catholic priest in communion with Rome - not a sedevacantist or member of another “traditional” group that has parted with the Church.


#17

Well, if I can chime in from the ‘Old World’. It is highly appropriate to pay the priest for a mass intention–the amount is usually fixed by the diocese, 16 euros where I live, the amount is symbolically the amount a typical person in that area spends in a day. In many parts of the world this is the primary way priests support themselves.

So that’s one reason for the practice–it’s a way for the laity to materially support priests. But it also supports priests morally. It expresses in a concrete way that we need them and their priestly ministry, and I’m sure that priests feel enriched in their ministry by having people come to them and ask them to offer mass on behalf of their intention. Otherwise it’s far too easy for priests to feel isolated in this increasingly secularized world.

Another reason for making an offering for a mass intention is that it creates a moral obligation for the priest: since he has accepted money with the promise that he would offer a mass for your intention, he has to really do it (on pain of sin). This gives us something of a ‘guarantee’ that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

It hasn’t come up here, but another objection people sometimes have is why giving an offering for, say a novena of nine masses should be better than only offering one mass. It’s for these same two reasons: it’s that much more material and moral support for the priesthood, and because the priest is spending more time praying for your intention. Now of course there’s a lot more to prayer than the time we spend doing it, but all things being equal, we tend to do better, as mortal beings who exist in time, when we dedicate more time to prayer than when we only spend a little time. (God, on his end, is not limited by time, and can answer our prayers before we even have time to put them into words if he wants to, but on our end we are often helped by making use of the gift of time to united our wills more perfectly to his.)

All that said, of course, you cannot literally buy a mass (the mass being infinitely valuable, there isn’t enough money on earth!), nor can a priest say a mass for money without committing the sin of simony. The church’s practice is different, though: the priest is going to say mass anyway, whether anyone pays for him to do so with a specific intention or not. And the money, which is a largely symbolic gesture of support anyway, is no prerequisite–priests wouldn’t deny to offer a mass for someone’s intention if they couldn’t afford it, and I imagine most priests offer mass most often for intentions they choose on their own (and receive no offerings for).

So for the OP, if your grandmother wants a mass offered for the intention of your marriage, that’s highly appropriate (if it’s what she wants to do). Indeed, you might wish to do so yourself, on important anniversaries, or if ever you guys go through a rough spot and want to turn to the Lord for help. (Over here the more common popular misconception is that mass offerings are only for the deceased, whereas really any intention you might want to make a novena for could be a good candidate for a mass offering.) But it isn’t ‘fixing’ your marriage as if it were deficient in some way–and it’s a shame if she thinks it is–it’s merely arranging for the holy sacrifice of the mass to be offered to the Father, and for the benefits for doing so being applied to bless your marriage.

Mass offerings certainly aren’t required, nor are they the only tool we have as Catholics to bring our petitions to God. But they are one of the **best **ways, and I think it’s definitely a mistake to ignore them or think of them as an outdated practice.


#18

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.