Intention: the person or thing meant to benefit from a prayer or religious offeringOne of the a customs of the Catholic Church is for priests remember specific intentions during the celebration of a Mass, also known as "offering a Mass" for something. For my birthday in January, one of my friends gave me a Mass card, which means she requested that I would be one of the people prayed for on a specific day at our church. Today was my turn when the Mass was offered for me.
An intention denotes that the person (or persons) is remembered in a special way during the prayers. While a lot of the Masses are offered for deceased people, they can be offered for practically anything: birthdays, anniversaries, or in thanksgiving for something. The person requesting the intention usually makes an offering, called a stipend, to the priest in order to apply the Mass to a specific intention. At most churches, you receive a card that you can pass on to the person you're honoring.
Our church publishes the list of intentions in the bulletin each week. We have two Masses on normal weekdays (more if it happens to be a holy day) and six on Sunday; each has an intention. I did a double take when I saw my name in the bulletin, because I'd almost forgotten about Marianne's kind present.
Since so many of the Masses are offered for dead people, the church has started putting the word Living next to those of us who are still alive. Now my friends won't be wondering if they missed an important bit of information about my health!