OR GOOD REASON, Holy Mother Church limits the frequency with which priests may offer Holy Mass. Celebrating Mass too often runs the risk of reducing the sacred liturgy to routine action. It also encourages the abuse of stipends, the abuse of concelebration, and misunderstanding of the nature of the Holy Sacrifice.
Ordinarily, a priest is not to celebrate Mass more than once per day. There are exceptions, however, to this norm, which allow for bination or trination. One such exception is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (“All Souls’ Day”), whereon priests are permitted to offer up to three Masses. Should this permission be understood as an encouragement to offer three Masses on All Souls’ Day? Certainly, one could not argue that it is a requirement. But should the norms be seen as simply permission, or also as invitation?
I am posing this question to our readers, both clergy & laity. I do have my own opinion, which I will withhold for now. Your insights and perspectives would be most welcome (please contribute via Facebook comments).
Allow me to share some of the relevant liturgical documentation to inform your thinking. The opportunities when it is permissible to offer Mass more than once per day are stipulated in GIRM #204. This section states:
For a particular reason, having to do either with the significance of the rite or of the festivity, the faculty is given to celebrate or concelebrate more than once on the same day in the following cases:
a. A priest who has celebrated or concelebrated the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday may also celebrate or concelebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper;
b. A priest who has celebrated or concelebrated the Mass of the Easter Vigil may celebrate or concelebrate Mass during the day on Easter Sunday;
c. On the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day), all priests may celebrate or concelebrate three Masses, provided the Masses are celebrated at their proper times of day;
d. On the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), all priests may celebrate or concelebrate three Masses, provided that the celebrations take place at different times, and that the norms established regarding the application of second and third Masses are observed;
e. A priest who concelebrates with the Bishop or his delegate at a Synod or pastoral visitation, or concelebrates on the occasion of a meeting of priests, may celebrate Mass again for the benefit of the faithful. This holds also, with due regard for the prescriptions of law, for groups of religious.
The specific GIRM rubric that refers to All Souls’ Day (above) actually originates from Incruentum altaris sacrificium, a 1915 bull of Pope Benedict XV (available HERE). This document states:
All priests are permitted to celebrate three Masses on All Souls’ Day, provided these take place at different times and on condition, moreover, that while they may at their preference apply one of the Masses in favor of any person and accept for that Mass a stipend, they may not accept a stipend for the second or for the third Mass, the second of which they are bound to apply respectively for all the faithful departed and the third for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
Is this permission to be understood as an encouragement? What do you think?
A discussion about this post is underway.