Dies Domini 49: Pastors’ Obligations

Let’s wrap up Pope John Paul II’s examination of the Sunday obligation. This section is heavily footnoted, just to warn you …

49. Because the faithful are obliged to attend Mass unless there is a grave impediment, Pastors have the corresponding duty to offer to everyone the real possibility of fulfilling the precept. The provisions of Church law move in this direction, as for example in the faculty granted to priests, with the prior authorization of the diocesan Bishop, to celebrate more than one Mass on Sundays and holy days,(Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 905, 2) the institution of evening Masses(Cf. Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus (6 January 1953): AAS 45 (1953), 15-24; Motu Proprio Sacram Communionem (19 March 1957): AAS 49 (1957), 177-178. Congregation of the Holy Office, Instruction on the Discipline concerning the Eucharist Fast (6 January 1953): AAS 45 (1953), 47-51) and the provision which allows the obligation to be fulfilled from Saturday evening onwards, starting at the time of First Vespers of Sunday.(Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 1248, 1; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 881, 2) From a liturgical point of view, in fact, holy days begin with First Vespers.(Cf. Missale Romanum, Normae Universales de Anno Liturgico et de Calendario, 3) Consequently, the liturgy of what is sometimes called the “Vigil Mass” is in effect the “festive” Mass of Sunday, at which the celebrant is required to preach the homily and recite the Prayer of the Faithful.
Moreover, Pastors should remind the faithful that when they are away from home on Sundays they are to take care to attend Mass wherever they may be, enriching the local community with their personal witness. At the same time, these communities should show a warm sense of welcome to visiting brothers and sisters, especially in places which attract many tourists and pilgrims, for whom it will often be necessary to provide special religious assistance.(Cf. Sacred Congregation of Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Ecclesiae Imago (22 February 1973), 86: Enchiridion Vaticanum 4, 2069-2073)

Pastors, meaning those who lead parishes and dioceses and any sort of community, are almost universally aware of all these options.

Do you think the extension of the Sunday observance to Saturday evening is a good thing? Should there be any limits on the number of Masses a priest can celebrate? How strong is the obligation to search out a Mass while away from home? If we live in a community with substantial numbers of visitors, what is our obligation to be welcoming?

Any thoughts?

The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Dies Domini, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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