Monday, December 18, 2006

Creating a stir

This week on the bulletin I included this item:

Mass Confusion

Father writes: It seems that some people have the idea that attendance at Mass on the morning of December 24th also fulfils the obligation for Christmas. Unfortunately this is not the case. It is also worth mentioning that Catholics are obliged to attend Sunday Mass every week. The Catechism of the Catholic church has this to say: “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin” thus Catholics who miss Mass through their own fault should not receive Holy Communion until they have confessed this in the Sacrament of Confession.

I`m told this has caused a bit of a stir. Three parishioners have spoken to me about it so far and said they didn`t realise there was an obligation to go Mass on a Sunday.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe anyone in this country - let alone a Catholic - doesn't know that Catholics are under obligation to go to Mass on Sundays. I wonder if they are protesting too much...

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear anonymous, I also find it hard to believe but I suppose recent catechesis probably hasn`t said much about obligations.

Andrew PS said...

I raised this with the previous bishop of Hexham and Newcastle once, who said that they couldn't teach the kids about the Sunday obligation, as it might upset them if their parents didn't go to Mass every week.

What does one do?

APS

Fr Michael Brown said...

Andrew, sometimes I find that if the children develop an enthusiasm for coming to church they manage to drag the parents along too. On the other hand I always mention Mass attendance to the parents of first holy Communion parents at thir preparatory meetings. We even have a weekly register for the children to sign to say they`ve been. Unfortunately it can become seen as just another hurdle they have to get through to reach the day. I must admit that while saying they are expected to go to Mass I`ve not mentioned that it is a grave sin for a Catholic to fail to attend Sunday Mass without a serious reason ( or a dispensation from their pastor!).

Augustinus said...

Believe it or not, the Catholic Directory for the Archdiocese of Birmingham (not a bastion of liberal practices) lists at least two parishes where a lunch-time Mass on Saturday fulfils the Sunday obligation: St Michael's, Moor St, Birmingham (right in the middle of the City) at 1.10pm, and St Augustine's Solihull (Town centre) at 12.30 pm. How they overcome the prescriptions of Canon Law (and by what authority) is anyone's guess, but I can't see how a lunch-time attendance can conform to CIC 1248.

Neither of the two locations are in out-of-the-way places which might have indicated a need for pastoral leniency. Rather, it seems that this is pandering to those who want to conveniently get their Sunday obligation 'over and done with' while doing their shopping.

The same applies in these two Churches, I believe, at Christmas - though how it can do so this year when Christmas Eve is a Sunday, I've no idea - but I'm certain the law on bination has not been abrogated.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Augustinus, a Sunday Mass at 12.30 on a Saturday afternoon!? Not far from here there is a town centre parish which has a Mass on a Saturday morning at 11 which `does` for Sunday! Apparently 150 people attend. I`m told that public transport is very difficult on a Sunday. Not that long ago there was a discussion in the diocese where I thought it had been established that a vigil Mass should be on a Saturday evening which is generally 5pm or later. Oh well. Maybe I should make my private traditional Mass at 10 on a Saturday morning into a Sunday Mass!

Anonymous said...

As a parishioner of St Mary's I found this item un called for and patronising particularly from such a traditionalist who for two weeks of advent only had one purple advent candle!

Augustinus said...

Canon Law provides a pretty good guide to the mind of the Church: "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening ('vespere') of the preceeding day."

However one defines 'evening', I can't see how the lunch-time Masses in Birmingham, let alone the morning-coffee Mass in Newcastle, can fit into that definition.

As far as transport is concerned, there is no precept if one physically cannot get to Mass. On the other hand, people like my grandparents thought nothing of walking 5 miles to and from Church (in H and N) on a Sunday morning (for 8.00am Mass) and again in the afternoon for Rosary and Benediction.

Of course, things are so much harder for us these days.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear anonymous parishioner, it is sadly true that there was a bad start to the Advent wreath. There was a bit of a muddle. However we got it right by the third week. Thankfully things went smoothly in SS Peter and Paul`s and St Aidan`s.

As for my notice being patronising and uncalled for, I am sorry if it is patronising but I too thought it was uncalled for until a few weeks ago a very eminent parishioner told me that there were parishioners who did not see it as important to go to Mass every week. I was surprised by this and made a note to say something. When I heard about the confusion over whether you could get `two for the price of one` with Christmas Eve being a Sunday, I thought it would be helpful to quote the catechism, expecting that most people already knew this was the case. From the reaction I`ve had so far it seems that not everyone does realise this and those I`ve spoken to were grateful for the clarification.

ScepticalBeliever said...

I'm surprised that there were only three! I suppose that you'll have to wait for a few days to get a true count. Reminder them about Holy Days and see what response you get!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Scepticalbeliever the latest moves by the bishops of E & W to move most holydays to Sundays will I suspect weaken attendance at those few that are left. I wish they had left the feast days as they are but just removed the obligation.

Honesty said...

Re anonymous: "I find it hard to believe don't know they are under obligation to attend Mass on Sunday".
If it was pointed out to Fr Brown by a concerned parishioner that some people were unaware it was an obligation to attend Sunday Mass which also meant unintentionally they were committing a grave sin there is obviously a need for Fr Brown to remind his parish of their obligations, whilst doing the Lords work it is a priests duty to advise and guide the people down the right path back to the Lord.
What would anonymous prefer Fr Brown to do? risk displeasing parishioners by being honest and telling them they MUST attend Sunday Mass or risk displeasing the Lord by ignoring what he had been told.
It is so much easier in these watered down days of Catholocism for people to salve their conscience by claiming ignorance of the true obligations required.
So anonymous I hope this proves to you not everyone is so well informed as yourself and welcome the advice and comments given by Fr Brown and his fellow priests.

Anonymous said...

anonymous,
only 1 purple candle tsk tsk!

I wonder did you offer to rectify the situation or do you just go to church to point out incorrect items.

Get a life saddo!

Augustinus said...

Regarding the concern over the number of purple candles on the Advent wreath, could someone point me to the directions in the GIRM (or any other offical instructions) which prescribe what is required for an Advent Wreath? I sometimes do sacristy duties, and would worry for my eternal salvation in case I got this wrong.

Since that search may take some time, in the meantime could I just wish everyone a Happy, Holy and peaceful Christmas.

Venite adoremus Dominum!

Mark said...

Given the ignorance of our times, I could imagine some not remembering the Sunday obligation. ...but it is a bit strange to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Holydays now moved to the nearest Sunday. Poppycock !! Why not just state no more holydays as too much bother for wishy washy catholics don't wish to upset them by intruding into their normal routine and stating must attend Mass, afraid those of us who do regard these feast days as something special to be celebrated on the exact feast day itself tough luck as usual you are in the minority.

Alnwickian said...

The Epiphany will be celebrated on its traditional ('proper') date at Fr Brown's Church. It will be a Sung Mass but will nonetheless be a 'private' Mass, due to the topsy-turvy liturgical world in which we currently live.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear Anonymous,
I agree that the new ruling on holidays penalises those who were willing to make an effort in favour of those who were not. It sends out the message that being a Catholic shouldn`t make any great demands on a person. It may seem a small matter to some but as the bishops once said it`s about the sign wegive. This time the sign seems to be saying that we are Closing Soon. As you can see from Alnwickian`s comment we will be having a votive Mass of the Epiphany here on Saturday