Intention and Abbreviation

Published on August 7-8, 2010 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY

Question 1: I was told by a priest that “every Mass is for all the people of God.” I wonder then why we list in the bulletin an intention for every Mass. I’m trying to reconcile it as much for myself as for any reason, as it still jars me every time I hear it during the Prayer of the Faithful. Even if it were just “for all those who have died, especially N.” it wouldn’t hit me as much that the Mass in its entirety is for that person, which I know it isn’t, but it sounds that way.

Intent on understanding Mass Intentions

Response: When a priest offers Mass, he has three intentions: first, to offer the Mass reverently and validly in accord with the norms of the Church; second, to offer the Mass in union with the whole Church and for the good of the whole Church; third, to offer the Mass for a particular intention, such as the repose of the soul of someone who has died. Basically, the priest has general intentions as well as a specific intention, and I personally have found it helpful when I pray for that person (especially if I had known him or her) and it helps to keep my prayer focused during Mass. That is not to say that I don’t pray for those who are present or for the rest of the parish or even for myself, but it helps my mind not to wander about and get distracted, thinking of every parishioner and all the other request for prayers.

I started mentioning the Mass intention when I realized that it can be an effective tool for ministry to the bereaved. I have had a Methodist widower keep on attending Mass (even weekday Mass) so that he could hear the Church continue to pray for his late wife. It helps the bereaved in their grief process that the Church (and members of the Church) remembers their departed loved ones. The mere mention of the deceased person’s name, especially on his or her death anniversary, can be powerful for the family, transporting them back to memories of the Funeral Mass. Hopefully, it can also serve as a reminder for the other parishioners who had known that person to remember him or her in at least one of their prayers for that Mass.


Question 2: I’m sure the answer is terribly simple and we should be able to figure it out, but our family has debated this for two straight Sunday afternoons: You always sign your Pastor’s Post with ‘amdg.’ What does ‘amdg’ stand for?

Am Digging the ‘amdg’

Response: AMDG is the abbreviation of a Latin phrase: Ad majorem Dei gloriam, literally, for the greater glory of God. It is the motto of the Society of Jesus, a religious order more popularly known as the Jesuits. I went to college at a school run by the Jesuits in the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and it was there that I learned this motto and the practice—whenever we had an exam or wrote a paper—of writing AMDG at the top of the page, and a cross (+) over the letters. It was sort of a quick prayer before the exam or at the submission of the paper (that God might inspire my professor to give me an ‘A’) but I also came to view it as a simple offering to God, that even this exam or assignment or paper is meant for the greater glory of God.

I later learned that other Catholic schools had a similar practice but used a different abbreviation. Those who studied at La Salle with the Christian Brothers (another religious order) would write JMJ (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) at the top of the page. Those who studied with the Benedictine sisters would write UIODG, an abbreviation for another Latin phrase, Ut in omnibus Deus glorificetur, literally, that in all things God may be glorified.

Whichever abbreviation is used, the message is clear: every instance is an opportunity for prayer, and everything that we say, or do, or write can be an offering that we can raise for the greater glory of God. 


~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Saturday, August 7, 2010.

One Response to “Intention and Abbreviation”

  1. Father these replies are great. I never valued the meaning of Mass intentions until the death of my Father last July. I will say that whether or not the Mass is for my beloved Dad or not (by your saying his name) the Mass is always offered for my Dad by our family. When you lose someone that you love so much, only then can you begin to understand…thanks Father Zamora

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