Eucharisticum Mysterium 28: Saturdays and Vigils

A number of liturgists are concerned that Saturday evening Masses to fulfill Sunday obligations have not worked out really well. The original concession was designed to facilitate the needs of people who are entangled in secular culture that does not recognize the value of Sunday:

28. Where indult of the Apostolic See permits fulfillment on the preceding Saturday evening of the obligation to participate in the Sunday Mass, pastors should carefully teach the faithful the meaning of this favor and should take steps to prevent its lessening in any way the sense of what Sunday is. This concession is meant to enable the faithful in today’s conditions to celebrate more easily the day of the Lord’s resurrection.

Another decision for the local bishop, but note: in 1967, it was to be an evening Mass, not an afternoon observance:

All concessions and contrary customs notwithstanding, this Mass may be celebrated only on Saturday evening, at hours to be determined by the local Ordinary.

No cutting corners, just ’cause it’s a Saturday night: 

On the Saturday evening, the Mass is to be celebrated as assigned in the calendar for Sunday and the homily and general intercessions are not to be omitted.

What goes for Sunday, also stands true for holy days: 

All these points apply also to the celebration of Mass that, for the same reason, is anywhere allowed on the evening before a holyday of obligation.

Guidelines for the Big Feasts: 

The evening Mass before Pentecost Sunday is the Mass of the Saturday vigil with the Credo. Likewise the evening Mass before Christmas is the Mass of the vigil celebrated in a festal way with white vestments and with the Alleluia and the preface from the Mass of the Nativity. The evening Mass before Easter may not be started before dusk or certainly not before sunset. This Mass is always the Mass of the Easter Vigil, which by reason of its special significance in the liturgical year and in the whole Christian life must be celebrated with the liturgical rites for this holy night according to the rite for the Easter Vigil.

Receiving Communion again is dependent not on the calendar day, but on the distinction of liturgical observances:

The faithful who begin to celebrated the Sunday or holyday of obligation on the evening of the preceding day may go to holy communion even if they have already done so that morning. Those who “receive communion during the Mass of the Easter Vigil or during the Mass of the Lord’s Nativity may receive again at the second Mass of Easter and at one of the Day Masses of Christmas.” [Inter oecumenici no. 60.] Likewise “the faithful receiving communion at the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday may receive again at the evening Mass on the same day,” in accordance with the norm of the Instruction Tres abhinc annos, 4 May 1967, no. 14.

Thoughts to add?


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Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Eucharisticum Mysterium 28: Saturdays and Vigils

  1. Liam says:

    Note that this is still limited to places that had an indult. Interesting.

    Now, one of my pet liturgical peeves: too many people assume the Saturday evening liturgy automatically takes the propers of the Sunday. NOT TRUE. (What changed was that the *canonical* obligation to assist at Mass was permitted to be fulfilled by attendance at the Saturday evening liturgy.)

    It’s only true if the Sunday celebration has precedence in the Ordo/Kalendar over what was celebrated on Saturday proper. During Advent/Christmas/Lent/Easter, that is normally true (except when Christmas falls on a Saturday…if by some bizarre circumstance you have Mass on the evening of 12/25, the propers are of course for Christmas Day, NOT Holy Family).

    But, during Ordinary Time, you need to pay attention to celebrations that the propers of Saturday and Monday celebrations. An easier way to remember this is to follow the Liturgy of the Hours: when the Evening Prayer II of Saturday trumps Evening Prayer I of Sunday (or Evening Prayer I of Monday trumps Evening Prayer II of Sunday), the Mass propers follow suit.

    The BCL calendar often screws this up, sometimes explicitly – they apparently don’t have canonists review their work in this regard…

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