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Catholic Dictionary




Offering given to a priest as alms for his maintenance, in return for which he promises to offer a Mass for the donor's intention. The stipend is not given as a price for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It is rather a voluntary donation whose origins go back to the early Church, when stipends were made during Mass and later on outside of Mass. Any priest who celebrates and applies Mass to a particular intention may receive a stipend. When a priest accepts a stipend he incurs a grave obligation in justice by virtue of a gratuitous contract, and he is bound to apply the Mass according to the conditions imposed and accepted. The amount of the stipend is determined by the diocesan standard, which must be observed by all priests, diocesan and religious. Nevertheless it is permissible to demand a larger amount if there are special duties attached to the Mass, such as the late hour or the appointment of a definite place.