Measurement scholarship

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A mass grant is a special expense in the Roman Catholic Church . It can be given by believers who ask the church to celebrate a holy mass for a special cause ( intention ).

Origin and meaning

The practice of establishing mass grants is justified , among other things, with the right of Old Testament priests to keep a small part of offerings for their maintenance. The early Christian custom, in which all visitors to the Eucharistic celebration brought something to eat and then shared it, is used as evidence of the custom of the mass grants. What was left over from these church services was distributed to the poor in the community, including increasingly to the clergy , who were only able to pursue other activities to a limited extent or not at all.

Today, the scholarship is understood as a form of active participation of the faithful in Holy Mass, when they “add their own offering to the Eucharistic sacrifice in order to participate more intimately”. It is also "an excellent form of almsgiving"; by sharing their goods, the faithful contribute to the upkeep of the clergy and thus support the apostolic activities of the Church. By catechetical instruction , the impression should be avoided, "as if driven here with the Holy trade."

historical development

Even after the Constantinian turning point , the tradition continued to collect the offerings (at this time also money) during the Holy Mass when preparing the offerings and to lay them down in front of the altar . On some occasions this happened in the form of a sacrifice . The money collected in the collection was used for the expenses of the community (poor work and the remuneration of the priest). This custom has been preserved in the liturgy to this day and is another root of the Mass grant. At least since the dogmatization of the transubstantiation doctrine , the priest was granted the special ability to mediate in contact with God. This was later followed by the creation of the Tridentine Rite . The custom developed to give the priest money or in kind when ordering a mass, so that he could bring a specific cause before God. If a gift was given to the priest with a request for intercession , it is called a mass grant . The mass grants were used to maintain the priests in the Middle Ages and up to the Age of Enlightenment . In religious orders they represented an important source of income in addition to scheduling .


The most frequent intention is still the intercession for a deceased ( requiem , soul ministry ) or the year , which serves the memory of the deceased and is supposed to help the poor souls . As a meritorious work, it also benefits the founder. Other intentions vary greatly according to culture and time. While in the past all concerns of farm life (weather, harvest, health of the cattle) were the focus, today it is primarily health and family concerns. The accepting priest is required to hold a short pastoral conversation with the measuring pen about the intention.

Special provisions

In addition to the pastoral discussion with the measuring pen, the following provisions must be observed in particular in the Speyer diocese, for example:

  • No priest may refuse a request for a Mass intention if payment cannot be made for financial reasons.
  • Measurement grants must be fulfilled.
  • Any impression of a trade must be avoided (c. 947).
  • Measurement grants that cannot be fulfilled must be passed on.
  • The Codex Iuris Canonici does not allow the amalgamation of several Mass grants in one Holy Mass (c. 948).
  • The intention of the mass must be announced by mentioning it in the petitions or in the parish gazette (notice board).
  • In Germany, the principle of the personal gift to the priest was broken for the first time: “All amounts given as mass grants [...] are to be paid in full to the respective church treasury, collected in their budget and used for church purposes. The priest accepting the stipend only takes on the collection and to this extent fulfills a fiduciary function without any power of disposal. "
  • Foundations for the annual holding of trade fairs (seasons) may be set up for a maximum of 25 years.
  • The passing on of a non-achievable measuring scholarship is organized by the responsible ordinariate .
  • Passing on a measurement grant requires the donor's consent.

In the German-speaking countries, the mass grant is increasingly understood as a contribution to the cost of a church service and no longer as a gift to the priest. In addition, the pastoral element is given more prominence when accepting the measuring scholarship.

The Charitable Aspect of the Mass Scholarships

Since mass grants are often the only source of income for Roman Catholic priests in the poor countries of this world, mass grants from richer countries are also passed on to them. With the slogan: “A priest can survive in the third world with one mass per day!”, A revival of mass scholarship piety is promoted. Here the old church unity of liturgy and diakonia becomes visible again. However, a measurement intention is generally not associated with a specific price or any financial expense at all. Everyone gives according to their possibilities.

Abandoned measurement grants

Mass grants must always be fulfilled, but the Pope can cancel their fulfillment . This happened, for example, with old mass grants, which were donated before 1800 in connection with inheritances, within the framework of the Second Vatican Council , since these inheritances had long since passed to the state through secularization . All the old Mass stipends are summarily on the Solemnity of All Saints celebrated.


  • Adalbert Mayer: Driving forces and basic lines of the development of the measuring scholarship. Eos Verlag, St. Ottilien 1976 (Munich Theological Studies, III Canonical Department, 34th volume).
  • Karl Heussi : Compendium of Church History , 15th edition, Tübingen 1979.
  • Episcopal Ordinariate Speyer (Ed.): Scholarship and stole fee regulations for the Diocese of Speyer. In: Oberkirchliches Verordnungsblatt. Volume 95, No. 14 of December 16, 2002, pp. 251-253.

Web links

Wiktionary: Messstipendium  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Pope Paul VI. : Motu proprio Firma in traditione dated June 13, 1974 (guidelines for measuring grants, [1] )
  2. ^ Hans Heimerl, Helmut Pree: Handbook of property law of the Catholic Church with special consideration of the legal situation in Bavaria and Austria. Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 1993, 2/303, p. 186 with reference to: Congregation for the Clergy : Decree Mos iugiter regarding the intentions at the Holy Mass of February 22, 1991, Art. 7. ( [2] )
  3. ^ Karl Heussi: Compendium of Church History. 15th edition, Tübingen 1979, p. 121ff.
  4. a b c d Episcopal Ordinariate Speyer (ed.): Scholarship and stole fee regulations for the diocese of Speyer. In: Oberkirchliches Verordnungsblatt. Volume 95, No. 14 of December 16, 2002, pp. 251–253 ( PDF file ).
  5. Irma Krönung: Mass order in the parish office. Parish office-catholic, accessed on January 26th, 2016 : "The main purpose of the mass grant is therefore not - as is so often wrongly assumed - a contribution to the maintenance of the priest, but (!) A gift for a mass , which, according to the giver's intention, is nothing more than an inner order of the giver to the sacred sacrifice. "