Many people do not realise that it is still possible to ask a priest to say Mass for a particular intention. Catholics believe that the Mass is a particularly powerful form of prayer and that it can be offered for a particular person or purpose. The Mass is a special way of presenting our needs to God and the stipend is a way of supporting the financial needs of the priest. Some people might think that this was a mediaeval invention, which aimed at making more money for the clergy, but it dates back to the Old Testament! In 2 Maccabees 12, Judas Maccabaeus organises a collection so that sacrifices could be offered in the Jerusalem Temple for those who died in battle. We continue this practice today in the form of Mass stipends. This is a way in which we can earn some income and offer spiritual support to people.

Priests at Downside Abbey offer Mass each day, and it is possible to ask for their Masses to be offered for a specific intention. The payment of a Mass stipend is not for the Mass as such, but it is a voluntary contribution for the priest’s upkeep and day-to-day living expenses. Even if a priest celebrates more than one Mass, he is only permitted to accept one stipend each day.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic the monastery’s sources of income have decreased, but our expenditure remains much the same. As in most monasteries, we gain income from Sunday offertory collections (though many of these go to other charities at Downside), giving talks and retreats, and investments. There are no offertory collections at the moment and the value of our investments has gone down.You can help by offering Mass stipends, or by giving a donation, whether as a standing order or a single offering.

You can find more about giving a donation to Downside Abbey here. We are very grateful for any help you can give, both financial and spiritual, and assure you of our prayers.