The practice of making Mass offerings dates back to the early Church when the faithful brought bread and wine for the Mass and other gifts in support of the priests and the poor. Nowadays a monetary Mass offering called a “Mass stipend” is a way for the faithful to include a particular intention in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This offering unites the donor closely with the life and mission of the Church – the Body of Christ – as the offering becomes a form of material support to the Church’s ministers and their pastoral activities.
The Holy Mass must never be an occasion for ‘buying and selling’ or ‘making money’, nor should there be even the slightest appearance of making a profit from Mass offerings. The Holy Mass has inestimable value, it is Christ´s sacrifice for the life of the world and so the Mass is “unpayable”. The offering given for the celebration of a Mass is an expression of the donor’s desire to share more intimately in the fruits of the Mass. The material gift not only provides the sustenance to the priest, it also expresses the donor’s gift of self to God.
In most of the countries of the world, priests do not receive any or very little regular financial support. The economic situation does not allow the faithful to financially support their priest. Therefore, through Mass offerings ACN wants to provide a basic existential help to priests worldwide and so enable them to undertake their pastoral service.
The request for “Mass stipends” can be submitted to ACN only by the ordinary (diocesan bishop or religious superior) on behalf of the priests working under his jurisdiction. ACN does not accept requests for “Mass stipends” from individual priests. Preferably the application for the “Mass stipend” should by done only once a year. If the request is approved, the ordinary is bound according to canon 948 to assure, that for each received Mass offering a separate Mass is to be celebrated for the individual intention of the donor (ad intentionem dantis). It is not permitted to combine several Mass offerings received from ACN and to satisfy them with a single Mass, celebrated according to what is called a “collective” intention. According to canon 953 Masses for the accepted Mass offerings are to be celebrated within a period of one year.
Following information is to be provided in an application for “Mass stipends”:
Founded in 1947 as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or oppressed or suffering material need. ACN supports every year an average of 6000 projects in close to 150 countries, thanks to private donations, as the foundation receives no public funding.