With this letter I would like to announce a change in our approach to Mass intentions – specifically the reading of Mass intentions at the time of petitions. Let me start by quoting the pertinent paragraph from the Diocesan Pastoral Policy Handbook that treats this practice.
While the publishing of intentions in parish bulletins provides a means of recalling the memory of a deceased member or person, especially those who might participate at a given Mass, the public announcement of a person's name, living or deceased, during the General Intercessions, and before, during or after Mass is not permitted, i.e. "That N, for whom this Mass is being offered ... " (Paragraph 3149. Italics are mine.)
That quote indicates the change I want to make in our parish approach to intentions at Masses. I would like to bring our parish into line with the diocesan policy, and no longer mention at the time of the petitions the names of those for whom a Mass intention has been offered. Families can easily read the intentions in the current week's bulletin; and the office gives a schedule of Mass intentions to families who have reserved them.
First, let me state that I am always very conscientious to set my personal intention according to the intentions the office has accepted for each Mass. We have the bulletin to remind me each week. Then even before I leave the sacristy before Mass, I look at an intention card that is on the bulletin board there. Then we have an intention card on the altar. You will notice that I check my intention by looking at that card as soon as I reverence the altar at the beginning of each Mass. Then, there is a Mass intention card next to my chair in the sanctuary that I can check. Please understand that no Mass intentions will be dropped or missed as a result of this change. What's most important is that the priest celebrant intends in a special way the intentions requested in a given Mass. The change I am instituting now is in no way changing the fact that our Mass intentions, as announced in the bulletin, will be celebrated. Please read the article of Anthony Gallina in this bulletin, explaining the tradition of Mass intentions offered by the faithful.
Here are some pastoral reasons I believe the Diocesan Pastoral Policy prohibits announcing the names of intentions. First of all, people can easily forget with this practice that the Mass in a more general way is always prayed for all the faithful deceased. By reserving a Mass intention, the Mass is not being reduced down to a prayer for only that one intention. And we also pray in each Mass (especially in Roman Canon I that I use on Sunday's) for all the living in the Church. Yes, the priest in a special way is remembering the intentions reserved (and I read those intentions from the altar card at the time of the memento during the Eucharistic prayer as well); but the whole congregation comes to the Mass with many, many, many other intentions, including loved ones for whom they are praying. The Mass has a beautiful divine dynamic that simply can't be encapsulated in one intention. We step into an action of God that is very rich in this regard.
Then there are the many practical problems. Sometimes the names are very difficult to pronounce for the lectors; and this leads to complaints. Every once in a while there are intentions that get added after the bulletin, and people notice the discrepancy between what is announced and what they have read in the bulletin. This can lead to complaints. On occasion there have been mistakes in the petitions, such as names missing, and this gives the impression that the actual intentions from the bulletin were not intended by the celebrant (and that is simply not true). Of course that leads to complaints. Also, there is too much attention drawn to the names when they are announced aloud (although I realize that those who offered the intentions like to hear them). I have gotten feedback that makes it clear to me this is true.
Thanks for your understanding of this change; and please remember that I will do my best to intend exactly what is printed in the bulletin (and therefore on the sacristy bulletin board, and on the altar, and near the presider's chair) for each Mass. It will be obvious to you when we have begun to follow diocesan policy, i.e., not announcing the intentions. We will still maintain the practice of including in the petitions for the deceased the names of any parishioner who has died within that given week.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,