Ask a Franciscan

Benefits of the Mass

Q: In your column, you wrote, “The person for whom the Mass is offered does not receive all its benefits.” Except for not receiving the Eucharist, what benefit is not received by that person? Is there some percentage at work here? How are the benefits divided up?

A: Although the term “benefits” is customary, it is hardly precise nor is it part of Church doctrine. Some theologians used to speak of the priest celebrating the Mass as receiving the first “benefits,” followed by the server, the person who requested the Mass, those attending that Mass, and so on. No percentages were given.

If we say that the person for whom a Mass is offered receives all its benefits, none will be left for anyone else. That is certainly not the Church’s faith. The entire Church and the human family receive benefits from every Mass. Having Mass stipends never challenged that.

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