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?