Why must Catholics pay money for a Mass that is offered up for deceased relatives and friends when the Bible states that the gift of God is not to be purchased with money? (Acts 8:20).

Catholics are not compelled to pay for Masses offered up for someone’s special intention. They are simply reminded that giving a “stipend” (usually $5) is the custom. Priests will oblige without a stipend being paid if the one making the request can ill afford it. Giving stipends for special intention Masses is the custom because it is only fitting and proper that there should be some token of appreciation for the special service rendered, especially in view of the fact that the average priest draws a very small salary. For many priests these stipends mean the difference between standard and sub-standard living conditions. And this custom definitely has scriptural approval. Wrote the Apostle Paul: “Who serveth as a soldier at any time, at his own charges? . . . Who feedeth the flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? . . . So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel, should live by the gospel.” (I Cor. 9:7-14). Of course the gift of God is not to be purchased with money. But that does not imply that God’s ministers are free-serving slaves. Protestants will generally agree to this because within Protestantism it is likewise customary to give the minister who performs baptisms, marriages, etc. a token of appreciation in the form of money. Protestants do not call their gift of money a stipend, but that is exactly what it is.

Author: Paul Whitcomb
Nihil Obstat: Rev. Edmund J. Bradley Censor Deputatus
Imprimatur: Timothy Manning, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Vicar General
April 13, 1961