ROME, 26 FEB. 2008 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father
Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum
Q: The Masses for the weekdays (including Saturdays) of Lent and Advent
are assigned Masses. Yet there are Masses in the Collection of Masses of
the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Lenten season and for the Advent season.
When is it permitted to use the liturgies from this Collection of Masses
during Lent and Advent?
J.M., Washington, D.C.
A: As No. 21 of the Introduction to the Collection of Masses of the
Blessed Virgin Mary indicates, the collection is destined above all for
use in Marian shrines.
These shrines frequently have permission from the Holy See to celebrate
Masses of Our Lady on days that would otherwise not be permitted
according to the norms of the General Roman Calendar, such as during
Advent and Lent.
This concession is usually granted for all days except those indicated
in Nos. 1-6 of the table of liturgical days found in most editions of
the Roman Missal.
This faculty is usually reserved to priests on pilgrimage or for
celebrations for groups of pilgrims and with the requirement to
generally use the seasonal readings and not those of the Marian
Lectionary (Introduction, No. 31).
For this reason the Masses assigned to Advent, Christmas, Lent and
Easter are usually not permitted in settings such as parishes, which do
not enjoy any exemption from the rules of the General Calendar. The
calendar forbids most votive Masses during these seasons.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 376, does say, however:
"On obligatory memorials, on the weekdays of Advent up to and including
December 16, of the Christmas Season from January 2, and of the Easter
Season after the Octave of Easter, Masses for Various Needs, Masses for
Various Circumstances, and Votive Masses are as such forbidden. If,
however, required by some real need or pastoral advantage, according to
the judgment of the rector of the church or the priest celebrant
himself, a Mass corresponding to such a need or advantage may be used in
a celebration with a congregation."
Thus, should such an authentic need for a Marian celebration arise
during the above-mentioned times, the pastor could choose one of the
corresponding Masses from either the Roman Missal or the collection of
Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
There are also exceptions which allow two of these formulas to be used
outside of the assigned season during ordinary time. No. 28 of the
Introduction says that the Christmas formula "Holy Mary of Nazareth (no
8)" may be used if a group of faithful desires to commemorate Mary's
exemplary conduct at Nazareth. Likewise, the Lenten formula "Mary
Virgin, Mother of Reconciliation (no 14)" may be used when Mass is
celebrated in the context of seeking reconciliation and harmony.
* * *
Follow-up: Masses in Lent [3-11-2008]
After our piece regarding which Masses could be celebrated during Lent
(see Feb. 26), a reader asked for clarifications regarding the physical
place for celebrating the Easter triduum.
He wrote, "I thought I had read, either in canon law or in the General
Instruction for the Roman Missal, that Holy Week triduum services can
only be celebrated in recognized parishes and not in chapels and/or
oratories where there is not a parish. Can you provide me with the
Church guidance on this subject: where can Easter triduum services take
Our correspondent probably referred to the Circular Letter Concerning
the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts, published by the
Holy See in 1988. No. 43 of this document states:
"It is fitting that small religious communities, both clerical and lay,
and other lay groups should participate in the celebration of the Easter
Triduum in neighboring principal churches.
"Similarly, where the number of participants and ministers is so small
that the celebrations of the Easter Triduum cannot be carried out with
the requisite solemnity, such groups of the faithful should assemble in
a larger church.
"Also, where there are small parishes with only one priest, it is
recommended that such parishes should assemble, as far as possible, in a
principal church and participate in the celebration there.
"On account of the needs of the faithful, where a pastor has the
responsibility for two or more parishes in which the faithful assemble
in large numbers, and where the celebration can be carried out with the
requisite care and solemnity, the celebrations of the Easter Triduum may
be repeated in accord with the given norms."
A footnote to the first paragraph clarifies the case of cloistered
communities: "In monasteries of nuns, every effort should be made to
celebrate the Easter Triduum with the greatest possible ceremony, but
within the monastery church."
Therefore it is not so much that the triduum is forbidden outside of
parish churches, but rather that it is recommended that, insofar as is
possible, it not be celebrated in small groups, but in larger gatherings
of the faithful.
Larger religious communities may celebrate the triduum in their
communities, especially in those communities that traditionally
accompany Christ during the whole night between Holy Thursday and Good
Respecting such long-standing custom would be practically impossible
without the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper and the
consequent reservation in the altar of repose. This allows for public
devotions toward Christ in the tabernacle until midnight and private