Whither Sunday?

Rita Ferrone offers an excellent essay on Sunday at PrayTell. I would like to offer a few branch-off thoughts.


In my first campus ministry assignment we had a discussion and discernment opportunity about the Mass schedule. The choice was presented to cut one of the Sunday Masses: 4pm or the 7pm. I asked about the Saturday night liturgy. It had noticeably fewer numbers than the Sunday 4 or 7. In some quarters, you would have thought I was proposing dancing in the 1962 Rite or choir-only Propers in the 1970.

It was a suggestion to consider. Not a decision.

But people cling to Saturday evening. With more of a passion than college students are attached to evening or late afternoon Mass on Sunday.

Final call? In 1994 we left it alone. I see by the Mass schedule that they’ve expanded to 8-10-12-5-7 on Sunday. The only Saturday night liturgy in East Lansing today is at the townie parish. I take no credit for that. My input there was a generation ago.


Rita on modern media:

And if we go in for Sunday gatherings without Eucharist, isn’t a TV Mass or a cyber-liturgy just as good? In some people’s minds, watching someone else celebrate Eucharist is actually seen as a better way to keep Sunday than to bodily participate in a lay-led Word service in one’s parish church — because it’s Eucharist, after all.

Our parish records a Sunday Mass, converts it to dvd, and gets it to the public access broadcaster in time for the 3pm Monday time slot. The city of Ames is generous enough to broadcast our Sunday Mass every eight hours: 7AM, 3PM, and 11PM 365 days a year. Or people can watch a well-choreographed Mass on EWTN. and if something comes up they don’t like, there’s the mute button. Or the off.

If the Mass is about absorbing an experience, then I suppose an e-Mass or cable offering fits the bill.


In my first full-time parish gig, my pastor opined about the day when the Sunday obligation would be transferred to any day of the week. He foresaw evening Masses that would satisfy the Sunday obligation. And maybe two or three on Sunday. Ten Masses by one priest to serve (or service) parishes twice the size of our suburban empire. No idea how the daily cycle would be impacted by such a move. Would we serve donuts and coffee every night?

If people had a reason to make Sunday more holy, I think many would take it. But most parishes, including a few I’ve served, expend a lot of energy getting through the Mass schedule, conducting religious education for children, serving some form of continental breakfast, and squeezing in a meeting or two.

I know I feel pretty wiped by early afternoon. But I think the church, meaning the institution, will need to take the lead on this and offer something substantive. I predict that preaching at the faithful won’t sanctify the Eighth Day.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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