Worldwide, there are over 400,000 priests who have the power to utter the words of Consecration in Holy Mass, whereby the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ - the most precious gift on earth. And yet so many of them live in great poverty themselves. Some are old and sick; others have to travel long distances and work tirelessly in order to bring God‘s presence and his Gospel message to the people. All this they do for love of God - they do not receive any kind of salary. From earliest times, as an expression of gratitude and support, the Catholic faithful have helped their priests with Mass offerings - gifts of money or gifts in kind - while at the same time asking them to celebrate Holy Mass for a particular intention. In no sense should this be seen as “paying” for the Mass - which is beyond all price - but rather as showing their solidarity as brothers and sisters in the faith and providing material support for their priests, who shrink from no difficulty or sacrifice to bring us Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. For many priests all over the world these offerings represent an indispensable contribution to their material survival. In particular those priests in many poorer countries who teach in the seminaries, training a future generation of priests, often earn very little, since they have to be available at all times to support the seminarians - not merely providing a sound academic formation, but also helping them in their human and spiritual formation. Consequently, these priests have no parish community to support them, however modestly, but instead are dependent upon Mass offerings from abroad.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has recently decided to help 25 priests in the diocese of Malolos, in the Philippines, with Mass offeringss. Here again they are mostly priests teaching in the local seminary, and they will be only too happy to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the intentions of the benefactors of ACN.
The area of present-day Malolos was first Christianised by the Spanish in 1572. The city of Malolos itself is especially renowned for the great festival that is held there every year on the last Sunday in January in honour of the Child Jesus. Each year the celebrated image of the Santo Niño - the Holy Child - is displayed for veneration and there are great processions during which thousands of the faithful bring their own statues of the Child Jesus from home and carry them in procession. There are various dance and music groups who accompany the processions, dressed in traditional costumes.
(Priests offering Mass in the Diocese of Malolos in the Philippines © Aid to the Church in Need)
But Malolos also made the headlines not so long ago, in 2011, when it was struck by powerful typhoons and flooding. At the time ACN gave emergency aid of $21,000 for the 12 most severely affected parishes.
For these 25 priests of the diocese ACN is proposing to give Mass offerings for a total value of $22,000. This represents just $886 per priest for the entire year. These priests are most grateful for this support and have promised to celebrate the Masses requested for the intentions of the benefactors who have given them.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929
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