Just to be clear, Confessions on Good Friday are NOT forbidden…. duh!

I have been meaning to post about the confusion that has reigned for years in some places about hearing confessions on Good Friday.

Hopefully what follows might be of use if you hear that priests are refusing to hear confessions during the Sacred Triduum because they claim that it is forbidden to do so.

Many of you belong to parishes where priests still won’t hear confessions on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  

Some priests, liturgical experts and even diocesan liturgy offices wrongly claim the rubrics of the Missal or “Sacramentary” forbid the sacrament of Penance.

However, this claim is absolutely incorrect. 

Here is what the texts really say. 

The previous 1970 and 1975 editions of the Missale Romanum (the Novus Ordo) said of Good Friday and Holy Saturday (BTW… the language of this rubric goes backto Pope Innocent III):

Hac et sequenti die, Ecclesia, ex antiquissima traditione, sacramenta penitus non celebrat… On this and the following day, the Church, from a most ancient tradition, does not at all celebrate the sacraments.  

However, since this is in the Missal (the book for MASS), sacramenta refers only to Holy Mass and not the other sacraments. 

The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) clarified this in its official publication Notitiae (1977 – no. 137 (Dec) p. 602.

In the 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum at paragraph 1 for Good Friday all doubt is removed. 

The above cited text has been amended to say (the change with my emphasis):

Hac et sequenti die, Ecclesia, ex antiquissima traditione, sacramenta, praeter Paenitentiae et Infirmorum Unctionis, penitus non celebrat… On this and the following day, the Church, from a most ancient tradition, does not at all celebrate the sacraments, except for (the sacraments of) Penance and Anointing of the Sick.  

Priests can and should hear confessions during on Good Friday and on Holy Saturday.  

Who can forget the image of the late Pope hearing confession in St. Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday?

Here is a bonus tip, speaking of confessions.  Some liturgists simply freak out at this idea:

It is both permitted and recommended in some circumstances for confessions to be heard during Holy Mass on other days of the year!  Want proof?  Try the CDWDS document Redemptionis Sacramentum 76 and also the Congregation’s Response to a Dubium in Notitiae 37 (2001) pp. 259-260.  

I just posted an entry about hearing confessions during Holy Mass.

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44 Responses to Just to be clear, Confessions on Good Friday are NOT forbidden…. duh!

  1. Jonathan Hearn says:

    My experience of the Church in Poland is that hearing confession during Mass
    is a normal everyday activity. Indeed, it is during the Mass that we may
    receive the grace for a good confession.

  2. Daniel Muller says:

    The former bishop of Dallas put a stop to simultaneous Mass and confession at the downtown “businessman’s chapel,” where it had been the practice for many (25?) years. There used to be at least short lines every single day; long lines during Lent and on First Fridays. Now there is virtually nothing. And there is no tradition of two priests there anymore so that even if permission were restored by the present bishop it is unlikely that the previous practice would return.

    In large Mexican cathedrals there are so many hours for confession every day that it would be almost impossible to have different hours for Mass especially as practically all churches close for dinner from about 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

  3. How odd! I have never heard of not going to confession on Good Friday. We had confessions heard on Good Friday in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. As well, some churches had confessions heard during the first part of Mass.

  4. Tim McCarthy says:

    Way, way back there in the 1950′s Confessions were heard at all the masses, starting with the 5:00 am low Mass and continuing, except on Sundays. This was in the days of dinosaurs and Harry Truman.

  5. There are some who freak out, as you say. I’ve met them. They’re the same ones who don’t like to hear confessions on any day of the year.

  6. In my two parishes, we have confessions at one from 10-11:30 am, and then at the other, 5-6:30 pm. On Holy Saturday, we have confessions at the usual times, again morning at one parish, afternoon at the other.

    Actually, I’d rather do it then than earlier in Lent, because while I’m tired by this point, I’m not as busy on Good Friday and Holy Saturday as I have been throughout Lent.

  7. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    In my former parish church, the priest refused to hear confessions on Good Friday (unless you approached him as a special favour). He also had a full Mass for a time on Good Friday. He would not hear confessions during Mass and told us that this was wrong. He put sand in the holy water stoup during Lent. In his Eucharistic chapel, he forbad a crucifix and said that it was wrong to put a crucifix over the tabernacle. But this was a very liberal parish and every abuse imaginable occurred there. I raise it only to point out that these were common ‘liberal’ positions. I used to wonder when I was young where they all came from.

    P.K.T.P.

  8. Mar says:

    My experience of the Church in Poland is that hearing confession during Mass
    is a normal everyday activity.

    I offer a first-hand confirmation of the fact, having observed it and made use of for many years.

  9. magdalen says:

    As a weekly penitent, the high holy days are when I cannot get to confession
    as they are not offered. The pastor refuses people who ask him for
    confession outside of the Saturday afternoon time and then pays retired
    priests to hear the confessions of his people on Saturday afternoon.
    He is presently on yet another two week vacation.

  10. Arieh says:

    Here is Steubenville you cannot find a single parish (even at FUS) that offers confession on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. I had never heard of such a thing prior to moving here.

  11. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote:

    “The previous 1970 and 1975 editions of the Missale Romanum (the Novus Ordo) said of Good Friday and Holy Saturday: . . . On this and the following day, the Church, from a most ancient tradition, does not at all celebrate the sacraments.

    However, since this is in the Missal (the book for MASS), sacramenta refers only to Holy Mass and not the other sacraments.”

    Well, . . . not exactly.

    There are several places in the Missal where the word, *sacramenta*, does in fact refer to the other Holy Sacraments, and not just to the Eucharist itself. See e.g. GIRM (1970), nos. 241, 320, 326, 329a

    The argument runs thusly: Because the word “sacraments” appears in the Missal, it is must refer ONLY to the Mass. That just doesn’t follow at all. The simple answer seems to be that the rubric for Good Friday was woefully unclear, appearing to exclude even the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. Hence, a clarification was necessitated.

    And, when has Catholic custom ever referred to the Eucharist as “the Sacraments”?:

    “Father, what time are the 10 A.M. *Sacraments* on Sunday?”

    Nah, Fr. Z. Not buyin’ that one.

  12. big benny says:

    Fr peckler’s article is available on the tablet web-page. You don’t need to subscribe to see it, that particular article is free!

  13. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Fr. Z:

    I am wondering why the priest whom I mentioned (but not by name) was celebrating Mass on Good Friday. This was opposed by some parishioners at that time. I believe that the practice was discontinued after he left. I avoided by own parish church because of the endless abuses there, but I always thought this to be particularly bizarre. Was it common for a time and was it done for a reason?

    P.K.T.P.

  14. My understanding, based on conversations with those who knew Archbishop Bugnini and several of his confreres, was that the 1970/1975 Missale did indeed intend to “ban” all sacraments on Good Friday.

    “Mysteria” would have been better Latin to express the Mass only…but I suspect the intention wasn’t to express Mass only.

  15. Jordan Potter says:

    Matthew W. I. Dunn said: Nah, Fr. Z. Not buyin’ that one.

    Ah, so you are saying the Church doesn’t know what her own liturgical books mean? Or the Church does not have the authority to authentically interpret her liturgical books?

    We don’t have to agree with the Church’s authoritative statements, but it’s also true that it hardly matters a hill of beans whether or not weagree with what the Church says she means.

  16. Vox says:

    So Bugnini was trying to ban ALL Sacraments on Good Friday?

    Wow, just think if someone was dying and being denied Extreme Unction…er, I mean the Sacrament of the Sick…

    Where did he end up again…oh, yeah, Iran!

  17. Matthew W. Nah, Fr. Z. Not buyin’ that one.

    Then I hope you are comfortable with being wrong.

  18. Ann says:

    Bishop Griffin’s (COL) pastoral on Holy Week (about 1988) clarified that the six weeks of Lent was the season of penitence in preparation for the celebration of Easter known as The Sacred Triduum. Thus, parishes were strongly encouraged to provide generous opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance during the Lenten season, particuarly in the preferred, communal form. A well catechized parish community (or diocese) could certianly be trained, over a period of time, to make use of the Sacrament of Penace during the season of Lent. When the are faithful properly formed and are provided appropriate opportunities for the sacraments prior to the Triduum, the question as to whether or not to provide the Sacrament of Penance on Good Friday and Holy Saturday goes away. The question arises (read: the problem occurs) as a result of many parishers that fail to present an adequent spirtual/sacramental program during Lent, and then attempt to play “catch up” during the three days when the focus should be on the celebration of the Triduum. Parishes which have generous confession schedules and particuarly well-planned and properly exectuted communal penance services will not experience a last-minute rush for individual confession after Lent has in fact ended. Despite the comments posted above, I doubt that the majority of priests at parishes that appropriately don’t include confessions on the published schedule for The Triduum would actaully refuse to hear a confession if asked to do so on an individual basis. And certainly in the danger of death the number of priests (if any) who would refuse such a request is certainly extremely small.

  19. Dr. F: “Mysteria” would have been better Latin to express the Mass only…but I suspect the intention wasn’t to express Mass only.

    As I have written in my columns a zillion times… mysteria and sacramenta are interchangeable.

    Remember, as I mentioned, this language is from Innocent III.

  20. Jordan Potter says:

    Remember Father Zuhlsdorf words here:

    However, since this is in the Missal (the book for MASS), sacramenta refers only to Holy Mass and not the other sacraments.

    The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) clarified this in its official publication Notitiae (1977 – no. 137 (Dec) p. 602.

    If the Church has herself clarified what an unclear passage of the Missal means, it will hardly do for us to insist, “No, you didn’t mean that. You really meant this!”

  21. Confessions during the Triduum may not be forbidden but neither should they be encouraged. In my parish confessions are heard every Saturday in the morning and AGAIN in the evening. In addition, we have a parish Penance Service during Lent at which 7 priests are available. All this, of course, in addition to confession by request whenever someone needs it. There are 40 days in Lent to get ready for Easter by going to confession. I’m sorry but it is not a good idea, in my opinion, to encourage the lazy who want to wait until the last minute and/or “kill two birds with one stone” by going to confession when they’re coming to church already for the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. In my parish we have morning prayer on Good Friday as well as the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and Stations of the Cross. We don’t need to add confessions to that as well. And for those who love to point to the example of the Pope hearing confessions on Good Friday I can only say this: he hears the confessions of only a dozen people who are “pre-screened” to ensure they aren’t nuts. So, if could have pre-screened penitents too and a strict time limit of just an hour then I’d be happy to add confessions to our Good Friday schedule.

  22. Ann says:

    Guy, your comments are perfectly on target, but I would add the lazyness is not only of the penitents but also the priests who prefer to lounge around in their rectories for six weeks and then have a three day “cramming” session, and then complain about how tired they are so everyone around them, including their hard-working siblings and others can feel sorry for them. You’re right about everything, although I would add that the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday is not a good idea; it’s great during the Friday’s of Lent, but with the poor liturgical catechesis so many have recieved, a vast number of Catholics don’t know that the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is the church’s litrugical prayer on Good Friday; in other words, there still are way too many people who would only go to the Stations and not the Passion service, and think that they have “gone to church.” I could see the Stations of the Cross as an adjunct personal spiritual practice for those who have already participated in the Triduum, but in actual practice, it’s and either/or situation, and the poorly catechized who chose Stations are deprived of a full, active and conscious participation in the heart of the litrugical year.

  23. Ann,

    Priests can be just as lazy as the next person, that is true. But I find that most of the people in my neck of the woods who complain about no confessions on Good Friday and Holy Saturday simply want everything on demand and make no effort to avail themselves of the MANY opportunities to go to confession prior to the Triduum. What they want is “one stop shopping” which makes me wonder how seriously they have taken the 40 days of penance to prepare for the Paschal Mystery instead of “getting it in” under the wire. I wish they would simply go to confession when it IS offered instead of complaining that it isn’t offered when they think it SHOULD be.

    You won’t get an argument from me concerning Stations on Good Friday but I’m not the pastor in my parish so I don’t get to make that decision. When I was growing up we never had anything in church on Good Friday other than the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. It was only after I became a priest that I began to encounter Stations of the Cross on Good Friday as well. I know that the ritual for the Stations imagines the possibility of having them as is clear from the text. However, I agree with you that it makes a poor substitute for the Liturgy of the Passion.

  24. Richard says:

    The CDWDS reiterated these points in a more widely disseminated and I think a more concrete form in its document Paschales Solemnitatis (“The Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts”) in 1988.

    In regards to Good Friday, paragraph 61 of this document reads, “All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick.”

    In regards to Holy Saturday, paragraph 75 reads, “On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass. Holy Communion may only be given in the form of Viaticum. The celebration of marriages is forbidden, as also the celebration of other sacraments, except those of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick.”

  25. David2 says:

    I’d never heard of refusing to hear confessions during the Triduum. Those are the busiest dayd for confessions, here. Let’s face it, the salvation of souls is the ultimate law of the Church. Do these so called liturgists deprive penitent souls who happen to be dying on Good Friday or Holy Saturday, of confession and the last rites?? Surely priests are bound by law to celebrate these sacraments in danger of death…

  26. Gregor says:

    To all those who jumped on Matthew W. I. Dunn, I don’t think you carefully read what he actually said. He did not say that the CDW couldn’t authoritatively clarify what this rubric should mean. He just said that before this clarification the rubric was not as clear as has been suggested, which is supported by the comment by Dr Fratantuono. In fact the argument that “sacramenta” in the Missal can only refer to the Mass is clearly invalidated by the 2002 clarification of the rubric: “Hac et sequenti die, Ecclesia, ex antiquissima traditione, sacramenta, praeter Paenitentiae et Infirmorum Unctionis, penitus non celebrat”. If “sacramenta” would only refer to the Mass, the following restriction “except for Penance and Anointing of the Sick” wouldn’t make sense.

  27. I have to say, in my experience the priests who quibble about whether confessions should be heard during the Triduum are the same priests you will rarely if ever see in the confessional, or the ones how schedule an hour once a week in a “Reconciliation Room” (the penitential equivalent of a tanning salon, perhaps, just waking you whiter, not darker).

    The 1970/1975 Missal was open to ambiguity, and the 2002 corrected it. “Sacramenta” can indeed mean all the Sacraments, and that may have been the deliberately ambiguous intent of the rubric’s author. Fortunately, the 2002 Missal has clarified this (especially for those who don’t subscribe to Notitiae)…though of course in the USA most people are using a 1985 translation of a 1975 Missal, so who knows what they know.

  28. Jennifer E says:

    “I’m sorry but it is not a good idea, in my opinion, to encourage the lazy who want to wait until the last minute and/or “kill two birds with one stone” by going to confession when they’re coming to church already for the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. ”

    Dear Fr, I would encourage you to not look at the sin of your people but of the chance that one poor soul may return just on that day to hear confession. Encouraging the lazy is communal penance service without the opportunity to have your confession heard in private – that is encouraging the lazy. I have gone to communal penance but with a variety of priests available to hear you individually – I thought this was good because of the lack of good times to hear confessons because the priests were so busy. But now I wonder.

    From a
    Returned Home Catholic -8Yrs and I love my priests! You give me the sacraments. I am also a mom of 3 kids and a wife of a deployed hubbie who on return has to sell this house and move to the west coast – I know what nonstop work is and sometimes it escapes me why we stay active duty. But in the end it is where we are and it is not by chance and I praise God for this. – I hope that you don’t let the hazards of the job (sinners) get in the way of the beauty of your calling!

    My Prayers are with priests today
    Jennifer

  29. Ann, forgive me for being blunt, but your post about Stations vs. the liturgical action practically exudes the attitude that has been, alas, too common in the liturgical establishment. How do you know why some people go to Stations and not the 3:00 pm service? Maybe they work all day and can only make evening Stations? Shall Father preface Stations with a remark that the poor souls there are second class citizens who have not participated in the day’s action as fully, consciously, and actively as possible? Again, clearly the Vatican has no problem scheduling Stations on Good Friday. Good Friday’s liturgical action is no obligatory, and while no one would argue Stations are a better choice than the liturgical action, I don’t see why we need to make derogatory remarks about why people might go to Stations and not the day’s liturgy.

  30. Jordan Potter says:

    Gregor said: He did not say that the CDW couldn’t authoritatively clarify what this rubric should mean. He just said that before this clarification the rubric was not as clear as has been suggested, which is supported by the comment by Dr Fratantuono. In fact the argument that “sacramenta” in the Missal can only refer to the Mass is clearly invalidated by the 2002 clarification of the rubric: “Hac et sequenti die, Ecclesia, ex antiquissima traditione, sacramenta, praeter Paenitentiae et Infirmorum Unctionis, penitus non celebrat”. If “sacramenta” would only refer to the Mass, the following restriction “except for Penance and Anointing of the Sick” wouldn’t make sense.

    Not having read the 1977 CDW clarification, I can only assume that Father Zuhlsdorf has accurately related what it says. I take it that his reasoning is that which was used by the CDW in its clarification, which would mean taking exception to Father Zuhlsdorf here would be questioning the basis for the CDW’s clarification. He has said the language of the rubric originated in the time of Pope Innocent III, when confession and unction were certainly not banned on Good Friday — so “sacramenta” in this rubric had never at any time referred to confession and unction. What “sacramenta” refers to in the rubric now is not necessarily relevant to what it meant before.

  31. Rubrics sometimes need clarification, such as the 2002 clarification here (not to mention the 1977 dubium). This rubric has been clarified. If the 1970-1975 rubric had been crystal clear, it would not have been clarified in 1977 and 2002 (where it was partly rewritten).

    I doubt Bugnini was thinking of Innocent III when he composed the original rubric. I highly doubt it.

  32. Ann says:

    Lee, an argument that attending Stations of the Cross is preferable to participating in the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord would of necessity be extremely convoluted. If the Catholic Faithful do not have beautiful celebrations of the Triduum available to them, that could certainly prompt the decision not to attend; however all things being equal, and assuming a base level of adequate liturgical formation given to a parish, it is not possible to argue that the Stations of the Cross, a private devotion, are an adequate alternate for that which is the actual liturgical worship of the church. If you are comparing a poorly exectued Passion of the Lord service, read directly out of the missallette by the priest on Good Friday afternoon with no preparation to a Papal procession of the Way of the Cross, it is not a realistic dichotomy, since most people are unable to celebrate the Stations with the Pope. Besides, the papal stations are mainly atteneded to or witessed by a television audience, and are privately and personally “viewed” not “participated in,” and thus are not easily confused by the viewing audience as “going to church.” At our church we had a Passion service at 3 and also one at 7 for the workers, but the 7 was poorly attended; since there is a beautiful church in the valley (our neighbor) which has an evening service annually conducted by an auxiliary bishop, we refer the 20 or 25 people who can’t come at 3 PM to that beautiful service which is merely ten minutes away.

    I do believe that in at least a couple places the documents remind us that while the role of the liturgy is not specifically to teach, it does in fact do so, and what is taught can be either positive or negative. Not distinguishing the difference between private piety and public worship is not helpful for the Faithful, and thus we teach them the wrong thing if we encourage the Stations over the Triduum.

  33. Gregor says:

    Ann: Strawman. Dr Fratantuono had explicitly said “no one would argue Stations are a better choice than the liturgical action”. But the conclusion that therefore there are to be no Stations on Good Friday does simply not follow. Also re: the papal Stations at the Colosseum: ask the thousands of pilgrims there whether they participate or not. Why does the better always have to be the enemy of the good?

  34. Thank you, Gregor, for noting my point.

    Neither I nor anyone on this page has argued that the Stations of the Cross are preferable to the liturgical action (which, incidentally, is supposed to be celebrated once and only once in a given church).

    Many parishes have Stations every Friday in the Lenten/Triduum season, including Good Friday. Such parishes have people who…gasp…go to the litugical action AND the Stations in the same day.

    I would also like you to tell an invalid watching the pope on EWTN on Good Friday at the Colosseum that s/he is not “actively participating” in something.

    Indeed, why must the better be the enemy of the good? Why must some parishes be in the grip of what I think can reasonably be called liturgical fascism?

  35. Greg Smisek says:

    Ann:
    I invite you to consider St. John Chrysostom’s Paschal sermon, which is read on Easter Sunday in every church which traces its lineage to his See. I think his eleventh-hour welcome applies equally to the rest of the Sacred Triduum and to the sacrament of Penance.

    On a related note, I sometimes think we expect too little of the Sacred Triduum. As the high point of the whole year, celebrated in intimate communion with our Lord, crucified, buried, and risen, it seems to me that we should be surprised if these celebrations don’t move the faithful to greater conversion and need for the sacrament of Penance.

  36. Ann says:

    Greg, since I’ve already said that it’s doubtful that any priest would refuse the Sacrament of Penance in the danger of death or if an individual made a special request for it, the point of the discussion seems to be whether the Sacrament of Penance should be part of the ordinary published parish schedule during the Triduum. Pastorally and liturgically my experience has been that it is a better approach to actaully allow Lent to function as the penitential season it is supposed to be so that the faithful are fully prepared to enter into the Easter mysteries with the Lord’s Supper, Passion Service and Easter Vigil during the Triduum. This entire question has less to do with lazy priests and poorly catechized Catholics than it has to do with appropriate planning and scheduling. Any parish that has established a practice for several years of a well-planned and well-attendend communal penance service, particuarly on the Monday or so before the Triduum, will not have a crushing demand for scores of individual confessions later; also a Communal Penance service that is planned and executed in accord with the offical rite of the church will provide pentitents with a much better sacramental encounter than the revolving-door method with 30 people lined up for confession in the one hour before the afternoon mass. The question of whether or not to hear confession during the Triduum becomes moot wherever there is adequate catechesis and communication regarding the sacraments, and when they are celebrated in an appropriate and beautiful manner at the most appropriate time and in the most appropriate setting.

  37. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    *Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote:*

    ” *Matthew W. Nah, Fr. Z. Not buyin’ that one* .

    *Then I hope you are comfortable with being wrong* .”

    Accepting that one might be wrong about something–perhaps, about many things–is the beginning of wisdom.

    The logic of your argument (viz., because the word, “sacraments,” appears in the Missal it can ONLY refer to the Sacrament of the Eucharist) simply doesn’t follow. Otherwise, then please explain why the 1970 GIRM of the Roman Missal used “sacramenta” in contexts that did not refer to the Mass.

    It would be interesting to have other examples of the phrase, “The Sacraments,” being applied solely to the Eucharist. I haven’t come across it in Catholic parlance.

    *Mr. Jordan Potter wrote:*

    ” *Ah, so you are saying the Church doesn’t know what her own liturgical books mean?* *Or the Church does not have the authority to authentically interpret her liturgical books?*

    I’m not sure how we got from “What Does the Rubric Really Mean?” to “Are You or Have You Ever Been a Denier of the Church’s Authority?”

    We’re talking here about a *rubric* for Good Friday in the Sacramentary. So, I don’t see where such weighty issues as Church authority and authentic interpretation come into play. If Holy Mother Church wrote an unclear rubric, then Holy Mother Church should correct and/or explain it further. This She did in the revised 2002 Roman Missal. Such clarification implied the rubric was unclear.

    In my humble opinion, the rubric was intended to mean that no other Sacraments like Baptism, Eucharist, Matrimony, and so forth should be celebrated on Great and Holy Friday– *not* that Penance couldn’t be celebrated (which would have made no sense, as Fr. Z said, given the context of the day) or that the Holy Anointing (in emergencies) couldn’t be celebrated. As written, however, it *could* have been interpreted to mean that no Sacraments whatsoever could be celebrated. In other words, the rubric as previously written was ambiguous.

    See! And, I didn’t even have to appeal to Pope Innocent III.

  38. Greg Smisek says:

    Matthew W.:
    It seems to me that when the blog owner mentions that in previous articles he has repeatedly treated the fact that the Missal often uses sacramenta and mysteria interchangeably for the Holy Eucharist, the wise thing to do would be to read some of his past articles.

  39. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Dear Greg:

    I never touched upon the interchangeability of the Latin words, _mysterium_ and _sacramentum_. For that, I think you should refer your suggestion to Dr. Fratantuono above.

    However, regarding _mysterium/mysteria_:

    Its provenance (Greek, *ta mysteria* ) lies in the traditions of Eastern Christianity (of which I happen to be a member); and, even then, the word refers to what the Western Church has preferably come to call the Seven Sacraments. The “Mysteries,” properly speaking, are the Sacraments, of which the Eucharist is a part and the summit. But, even in the Eastern/Byzantine tradition, the Eucharist is STILL not called “The Mysteries”–and, the argument falters.

  40. Matthew: You are failing around now. And we are not talking about the Eastern tradition.

  41. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    *Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote:*

    ” *Matthew: You are failing [ _sic_ ] around now. And we are not talking about the Eastern tradition.* ”

    Actually, *Greg* raised a point with me above regarding something _that I wasn’t even addressing_ with you. So, when I answer him, it’s hardly fair for you to come in with: “We’re not talking about that.”

    No, you and I were talking about your assertion that _sacramenta_ in the Roman Missal could ONLY refer to the Eucharist. I offered four citations from the 1970 GIRM that showed your assertion was inaccurate. You ignored them.

    You have also yet to establish that Catholics refer to the Holy Eucharist/Mass as “The Sacraments.” You simply said I’m wrong. Well . . . okay . . . I could be. But, it seems more likely you’re just hanging on to an absurd claim in order to support a logically fallacious one about _sacramenta_ in the Missal.

  42. Matthew: Since this is my blog, and I posted this entry with a purpose – a pretty clear one too – I will continue to reserve the right to be the person who determines what we are talking about.

    This is all clarified now, in the most recent edition of the Missale Romanum.

  43. Jordan Potter says:

    Matthew said: No, you and I were talking about your assertion that sacramenta in the Roman Missal could ONLY refer to the Eucharist.

    Re-read what Father wrote. He never said “sacramenta” in the Roman Missal could only refer to the Eucharist.

  44. Greg Smisek says:

    Matthew W.:

    Let me try again.

    I was referring to the comment Fr. Z made in reply to Dr. F. regarding the interchangeability of sacramenta and mysteria, both of which are used in various prayers of the Mass to mean “the Holy Eucharist.” So you will find articles at the link I previously gave you which provide examples of prayers in the Roman Missal which use sacramenta to mean “the Holy Eucharist.”

    While much of the GIRM is fairly recent, Fr. Z has explained that the Good Friday rubric in question goes back to Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), which accounts for the rather archaic use of sacramenta to mean “the Sacrifice of the Mass.”

    I believe Fr. Z’s point in explaining that sacramenta in the paragraph in question “refers only to Holy Mass and not the other sacraments” is that the Roman Missal governs the Mass, and so one would not expect to find within it any norms governing other sacraments, unless those sacraments occurred within the context of the Mass. As your examples clearly indicate, the GIRM references the other sacaments only insofar as a general principle of all sacraments applies to the Holy Eucharist (GIRM-1970, n. 241), insofar as the other sacraments relate to the Holy Eucharist (n. 326), and insofar as the other sacraments are incorporated into the Mass itself (n. 320 and n. 329a). If the administration of the sacrament of Penance were to be forbidden during a certain period of time, such a norm would be found in the Ordo Penitentiae or in other liturgical legislation, but not in the Missal.

    So the antiquity of the rubric, the fact that the plural sacramenta is used in the prayers of the Roman Missal to refer specifically to the Holy Eucharist, and the juridical principle of context all give a pretty good indication that sacramenta in the Good Friday rubric was referring solely to the Mass. On top of that, we have the authoritative interpretation of the Holy See since 1977, which was reiterated in the 1988 circular letter and which led to the re-writing of the rubric in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal in plainer language.