A PrayTell discussion from last week got bogged down in the permissibility of so-called private Masses. Rita Ferrone offered a dose of sanity:
These discussions tire me, honestly.
We have such a priest shortage that communities all over the world are going without Eucharist. And we’re nattering on about the necessity of private Masses.
I don’t have a problem with good Catholic clergy cultivating a deep interior life in prayer and the liturgy. A priest on vacation for a few days. A priest on a day off in some situations.
When celebrated consistently, Masses without a congregation are wrong. They are wrong not because Roman Catholic liturgy is way too clerical. They are wrong not because we have some reactionary swing to community or congregationalism. They are wrong because the need is great and the workers are few.
Any priest in good standing is obliged by a sense of service, and by the resources put into his formation and training, to render service when and where needed. Religious superiors outside of cloistered life have an obligation. Bishops making personnel decisions have an obligation. Priests themselves have an obligation.
It’s not that GIRM 254 has this or that loophole, or sets the bar too high or too low. It’s just the wrong discussion. Period.