Sunday Masses for Various Needs and Occasions

The third edition of the Roman Missal includes a host of “Masses for Various Needs and Occasions.” Forty-nine in all. In doing research on the Roman Antiphonary and on our running topic of evangelization, I uncovered an interesting fact. Four of these Masses are permitted on Sunday. The anniversaries of a pope (election) or bishop (ordination), Christian unity, and evangelization.

Even in ordinary time, I’m deeply reticent about switching out Masses and their readings, even when the minimal option of reading number two is presented. That said, it’s rather heartening to see Christian unity and evangelization so well regarded that they are functionally on the level of a solemnity.

Also those anniversaries of a bishop and pope. Has any reader ever celebrated these on a Sunday? Or even on a weekday? Cathedral parish when the bishop is present, or even when he is not?

And Christian unity may be celebrated on a Sunday. Christian unity week falls predictably every January. It would seem a strong recommendation to observe it on a weekday–there I would be far less squeamish about substituting out an ordinary time weekday or even a memorial.

The rubrics are as follows:

2. FOR THE POPE, Especially on the Anniversary of Election

This Mass is said on the anniversary of the election of the Pope in places wherever special celebrations are held, provided they do not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, on a Solemnity, on Ash Wednesday, or on a weekday of Holy Week.

3. FOR THE BISHOP, Especially on the Anniversary of Ordination

This Mass is said on the anniversary of the Ordination of the Bishop wherever special celebrations are held, provided they do not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, on a Solemnity, on Ash Wednesday, or on a weekday of Holy Week.

17. FOR THE UNITY OF CHRISTIANS

This Mass may be used whenever there are special celebrations for the unity of Christians, provided it does not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, or on any Solemnity.

18. FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES

This Mass may be used even on Sundays of Ordinary Time, whenever there are special celebrations for the work of the missions, provided it does not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, or on any Solemnity.

Only evangelization includes that clause, “This Mass may be used even on Sundays of Ordinary Time.” That inclusion is especially striking to me. The rubrics for Masses numbers 2, 3, and 17 say pretty much the same thing, but aren’t as explicit about the substitution. Why is that so? Evangelization is clearly a “need” that seems to recommend even more strongly a special occasion, a special Mass. When do you suppose this option should be utilized for a Sunday? The annual missionary speaker? This fall’s occasion of the synod on new evangelization? Some dedicated parish observance?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in ecumenism, evangelization, Liturgy. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sunday Masses for Various Needs and Occasions

  1. FrMichael says:

    I usually choose these Masses for the Pope and Bishop on the anniversary days. Of course, in my experience most priests use the Mass for the priest himself on their ordination anniversary. I like to use the Masses for Various Needs and Occasions during ferials: hearing the same Sunday prayers in the course of the weekday Masses can get a little tiresome.

    Oh yes: Unity of Christians during the Octave. I’m down for that.

  2. DavAnnb says:

    I’m a parishioner at a Cathedral and I have not experienced the anniversary mass for a bishop having been celebrated on Sunday or weekday. However, our previous archbishop’s anniversary always fell within the final days of advent, so that could well be the reason.

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