The Armchair Liturgist: Handling Solemnities at Daily Mass

Tomorrow is the solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Here’s a relatively calm purple chair issue for y’all.

When a special liturgical observance like tomorrow’s falls on a weekday, what happens at your parish? What do you think should happen?

In other words, does it look just like daily Mass, but with the preliminary distraction, “Father, there’s two readings marked in the book today; which one should I do?”

How many would add music or EP I or something special?

How many would involve the art/environment group or the sacristan to prepare distinctive decoration? Or are the vestments enough?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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14 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Handling Solemnities at Daily Mass

  1. A couple of years ago, when I became pastor of two parishes, and the associate pastor was very ill and our only other help was a spry, but elderly priest, I changed the Mass schedule, including only one daily Mass most days.

    But when solemnities such as this come around, that means it won’t be celebrated in one of the parishes. So, while I can (the vicar is a lot better), I schedule an ad hoc evening Mass in whichever parish doesn’t have a regularly scheduled Mass for the solemnity; we did that last night.

    That also gives me a chance to do things, perfectly suitable for Mass, such as Latin and chant and incense, that some folks complain about. My response is, this wasn’t a regularly scheduled Mass and it isn’t an obligatory day. The schola is invited to take spread its collective wings.

    We couldn’t do that last night, but have on other occasions. Last night was a little low key–I had no one to lead music–but otherwise, it was a relaxed Mass with about 30 people and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

    I always chant more of the Mass on such occasions, and if I can, we have someone lead music. I try to use incense, but here, because of those who object, I always put it in the bulletin ahead of time.

  2. Rob F. says:

    If I may tack another question onto Todd’s list, who celebrates this mass as an External Solemnity? That is, who will celebrate Sacred Heart this Sunday? The norms for the calendar allow such celebrations, but I have never encountered one.

  3. Gavin says:

    Hmmm, as Fr. Gavin, I would probably do some of the following:

    – Invite the parishoners to attend in both the bulletin and Mass announcements.

    – Invite parish musicians, either organists or cantors, to provide more music for the Mass. Ideally in the form of solo Gregorian chant propers with a hymn at the end, but whatever they can provide would be appreciated.

    – I don’t know if I’d even use EPI. I think I’d save that for Holy Days of Obligation.

    – Chanted preface, penitential rite, ordinary, dismissal.

    – Of course more if it’s a school Mass.

    My totally uneducated thoughts on the matter (the most I know is that EPI is derived from the traditional Canon and two of the others are mangled forms of the Canon of Hipolytus) are that I would use EPI at just about every Sunday Mass, except maybe in the summer and penitential seasons. EPII would be used for daily Masses which are “just” weekdays in whatever season. EPIII would be used for any saint’s day celebration, octaves, and Easter weekdays. I don’t know enough about EPIV to know where I’d use it. But again, I’m just evaluating these based on length and tradition.

  4. Gavin says:

    Ah, Latin: I’d maybe use a Latin chant ordinary, and Latin dismissal. Maybe if there was a small crowd I’d use EPII in Latin. Other than that, unless there’s a large love for Latin among the daily Mass attendees, I wouldn’t use it excessively.

  5. Rob F.:

    Hmmm, I know I can transfer a parish patronal day, and the celebration of the anniversary of the church’s dedication, but I never thought about transferring Sacred Heart. If you know, can you point me toward the particular rubric regarding that? I’m not questioning you, I’d just like to look at that again before I make any decision for the future.

    Fr Gavin:

    I used the Roman Canon, I figure for a solemnity that no one has to go to, I pull out all the stops.

  6. Liam says:

    Fr Martin

    Section 58 of the General Norms for the Liturgical Year provides:

    For the pastoral advantage of the people, it is permissible to observe on the Sundays in Ordinary Time those celebrations that fall during the week and have special appeal to the devotion of the faithful, provided the celebrations take precedence over these Sundays in the Table of Liturgical Days. The Mass for such celebrations may be used at all the Masses at which a congregation is present.

  7. Liam says:

    Note that this refers to “observe” rather than “transfer” so you don’t have to worry about what to do on the original date in the calendar….

    While Sacred Heart has a special relationship to Fridays, it is a wonderful devotion – it’s really the foundational devotion celebrating God’s love, as it was cultivated by the Jesuits before St Margaret Mary’s vision as a positive weapon against the implications of Jansenism and related heresies. I think of it as part and parcel of the whole opening of spiritual life for the laity that blossomed after Trent in the works of many saints, and was revived in the latter half of the 19th century in time, along with Piux X’s sacramental revolution, to sustain the faithful through the hideous 20th century.

  8. FrMichael says:

    On the use of the various Eucharistic Prayers, GIRM n. 365 gives recommendations on when to use the four primary Eucharistic Prayers. The Eucharistic Prayers For Masses for Various Needs and Occasions” has its own guide to when it is most appropriately used.

    One difference I have noticed between the English and Spanish Missals: the Spanish (based on the second edition of the Latin) has more inserts for EPII and EPIII such as for marriage, baptisms, First Holy Communions. Don’t know if that’s based on the underlying Latin texts or a Spanish particularity.

    Isn’t Eucharistic Prayer IV connected with St. Basil? I though II was related to Hippolytus and III was composed after V2.

    Today I chanted more at the daily Mass– but forgot to instruct the lector to read the Second Reading and he walked off before I remembered my error, so we did without.

  9. Liam:

    Thanks for reminding me where that is. But now you have me in a quandary: do you take “observe” to mean that the feast is still observed as well on the original day?

    This is coming up next week here, as I will be transferring–er, “observing” Saint Boniface Day on the following Sunday (and Saturday evening) at one parish. As the patronal day, it does take precedence in Ordinary Time.

  10. Liam says:

    Yes, that’s how I would understand it.

  11. Rob F. says:

    I too would understand it as Liam does. Those attending mass on Friday and Saturday would get the mass of the Sacred Heart on both days.

    Note that this only applies to masses “cum populo”. It does not apply to private or monastic masses or to the offices of the day. It seems only to be a pastoral provision to allow people to assist at a special mass that they might not be able to attend otherwise.

    As far as public celebration of the office, I suppose that Notitiae 20 [1984] 603 would allow for an hour to be celebrated “External” if it were joined to the mass of an External Solemnity.

  12. Liam, Rob:

    OK, it is surely a defect in my categories, but that seems so odd to me: to celebrate such a feast twice in a matter of several days. My practice has been to “transfer” it, both with or without the people (i.e., my own prayer of the liturgy of the hours).

  13. Liam says:

    Fr Martin

    Since the law is not crystalline, I am sure there is no harm in what you do. My interpretation is merely an attempt to give meaning to “observe” with the understanding that “transfer” was not chosen when it’s the more common usage.

    But I am no Latinist, and it would be the meaning of the Latin that controls, of course.

    WHere the law is unclear, of course, there’s no foul when a decision is made in good faith. I am not the liturgical police. I only like to play the police of the liturgical police when they pretend to elevate into a norm something that isn’t and when they try to deny that’s something is the norm when it is (call be the truth-in-advertising MadTV police if you will).

  14. Liam says:

    And there is that residue of Harvard Law School and years of practice in investment management law that likes to wrestle with the meaning of words at the risk of being showy or prideful about it, I must confess yet again (it being Saturday afternoon)….

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