QUAERITUR: Do I have the right to a wedding or funeral TLM?

From a reader:

A TLM community blog included the following entry. Is it correct in asserting that everyone, everywhere has a right to a nuptial or funeral TLM?

"It is also important to remember that anyone, at any parish, anywhere is entitled to a Traditional Latin Mass for their marriage or their funeral. ….. Tell your friends! Perhaps they don’t know that they are entitled to be married and even buried the same way their family has been for centuries."

 

I don’t know what blog that might have been, but my inclination is to say NO, we do not have the right to a nuptial or funeral TLM.  We have the right to a nuptial or a funeral Mass, but not necessarily a TLM.

Because this gets into an area for which I am not expertly trained, I consulted a canonist I trust.

Here is his answer, which strikes me as on the mark (my emphases).

 

Personally, I think it’s unfortunate that our legal system went in the direction of "rights" full bore after the Council. To me it always seems a bit…American, maybe?… to talk about rights and the sacraments.
 
That said, I think it’s a stretch to maintain that Summorum pontificum has given the faithful the right to have the sacraments or funerals celebrated according to the usus antiquior. They certainly have the right to request that, and the right to expect that their request will be treated with respect. They don’t have the right to force a priest to celebrate an EF wedding or funeral against his will, nor do they have the right to expect that the bishop will produce a priest out of thin air to provide them with the fulfillment of their desire.

The law establishes that all the faithful (not just the lay faithful) have "the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church" (c. 214). Since our rite now includes both an ordinary and extraordinary form, I don’t see how a priest who provided the ordinary form of the liturgy, properly celebrated, could be seen as violating the right of the faithful who request a funeral or wedding. Article 9 of SP gives the pastor the right to utilize the former ritual "bono animarum suadente," which places the discretion clearly in his hands, not in the hands of those who request it for themselves.
 
I also maintain, that if we talk about rights, we need to speak in equal voice about obligations and responsibilities – the faithful have a responsibility to foster and encourage vocations, to support their pastors, to maintain full communion with the Church, to evangelize, to assist the poor, etc (see cc. 208ff).
 
It’s important that we not start looking at the Church as some entity outside of ourselves, from whom we demand the sacraments according to our need. 

 

I think that is a well-balanced answer. 

I am certainly in great sympathy with those who want the TLM not only for special occasions, but for everyday worship.  But that will come about only if in the future we have fostered vocations and given proper support to our legitimate aspirations.

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26 Responses to QUAERITUR: Do I have the right to a wedding or funeral TLM?

  1. J. Basil Damukaitis says:

    Which is why for safety’s sake, I belong to a strictly Old Rite Parish, Ss. Gregory and Augustine in St. Louis! They’ll have to sing “Danny Boy” On Eagles Wing (In Aliis Aquilarum) and Be Not Afraid somewhere else!!!!

  2. Breier says:

    How does this square with subparagraph 4, article 5 of Summorum Pontificum:

    “For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.”

  3. Steve K. says:

    I was married last year here in the Diocese of Richmond. At first I considered having the marriage ceremony in the EF, but ended up having the ceremony in the OF. My wife is not Catholic (…yet….), so the ceremony wasn’t a full Mass anyway. I was told that an EF marriage was only do-able if both parties were Catholic. I don’t mind, because the OF ceremony was very nice and very reverently celebrated. However, I wonder how marriages with a non-Catholic were handled prior to 1969?

  4. I too belong to a TLM community (a chaplaincy established by our Ordinary) and so my wife and I were in fact entitled to a Nuptial TLM but that doesn’t really matter in Dublin. Our Archbishop (+Diarmuid Martin) is very generous and has never refused any reasonable request for weddings, funerals etc. in the Usus Antiquior. When confirmations were requested, he administered them himself!

  5. Breier says:

    Steve,

    I think one could have the EF Ceremony, but not the Nuptial Mass.

    The rigor towards mixed marriages may have changed at time. Certainly the Baltimore Catechism #3 comes down pretty negatively. This reflects the situation in the late 19th century:

    “Q. 1041. How does the Church show its displeasure at mixed marriages?

    A. The Church shows its displeasure at mixed marriages by the coldness with which it sanctions them, prohibiting all religious ceremony at them by forbidding the priest to use any sacred vestments, holy water or blessing of the ring at such marriages; by prohibiting them also from taking place in the Church or even in the sacristy. On the other hand, the Church shows its joy and approval at a true Catholic marriage by the Nuptial Mass and solemn ceremonies.”

    http://www.baltimore-catechism.com/lesson26.htm

  6. Antiquarian says:

    Indeed, well into the 40s mixed-marriage weddings were usually held in the rectory before only a very few guests. Several older rectories here in DC, and I would assume elsewhere, have large front parlors that were essentially designed for these small weddings.

  7. Breier says:

    Steve,

    Also a quote from the old Catholic Encyclopedia, from the article “Nuptial Mass”:

    “Nor may the nuptial Mass and blessing be held in cases of mixed marriages (mixta religio) inspite of any dispensation. According to the Con stitution “Etsi sanctissimus Dominus” of Pius IX (15 November, 1858), mixed marriages must be celebrated outside the church (in England and America this is understood as meaning outside the sanctuary and choir), without the blessing of the ring or of the spouses without any ecclesiastical rite or vestment, without proclamation of banns. ”

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10005a.htm

  8. Tim Ferguson says:

    Breier, even in article 5 subparagraph 3 (which is what I think you were referencing), the discretionary role of the pastor is paramount. The pastor ought to permit (the Latin text uses the subjunctive here) funerals and weddings and special occasion Masses in the extraordinary form, and the faithful have every right to expect that their requests will be taken seriously, but the pastor is not given an obligation to provide this, especially considering he may not be capable of doing so.

  9. dcs says:

    The references to mixed marriages and Nuptial Masses are outdated. One can now have a Nuptial Mass even for a mixed marriage but not, I believe, when there is a disparity of cult (i.e., one party Catholic and the other party non-baptized). Of course I am no expert so I would appreciate any correction.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARRIAGE/MIXED.TXT

    Hope this helps.

  10. Dan says:

    Well,
    If one is near an FSSP, FSSPX, ICKSP parish they most definitely could have an Extraordinary Form Requiem Mass, and a Nuptial Mass, with the exception of the FSSPX parish which at least as of Feb 23 2009 does not have faculties to witness marriages.
    Please God, let that change soon. [This is not relevant. The question is whether people have RIGHT to the TLM, not whether they have one near by. Don't go down the rabbit hole.]

  11. Mark S. says:

    Father Z.,

    You may be interested to know that in the United Kingdom, the Latin Mass Society obtained from the UK hierarchy, in 1974, permission for LMS members to have funerals using the 1962 liturgy. Details of this are printed on the reverse of all LMS membership cards – unfortunately, I’ve not got mine available at the moment to give a direct quotation. Naturally, in practice, whether a 1962-rite funeral is provided epends on whether the family are aware of the request, and the willingness of the pastor to acced to this request, either personally or by allowing another priest familiar with the rite to offer the Requiem. Hope this information is of interest.

  12. William says:

    People have been known to make arrangements for such Masses with priestly groups that offer the TLM. If you live in a place where such groups do not exist, provisions can be make to “import” such a priest for the occasion, but the bishop of your diocese will have to approve it, however.

    When my father died in 1958, it was customary at our parish for families to request a Solemn High Requiem Mass. (I shall never for get it.)

    Not too long ago I endeavored to make arrangements with an “Institute of Christ the King” priest, but he refused in the strongest possible terms to say a Solemn High Requiem Mass over my earthly remains. Unless I relocate to place where the TLM is routinely offered, I must settle for a NO funeral and hope to bribe some TLM group to say me a Solemn High Requiem Mass over an empty catafalque.

  13. Breier says:

    DCS,

    Clearly it’s out of date for the Novus Ordo. The question is whether any any of the older discipline applies for the Extraordinary Form. This is a delicate question that has come up in other contexts. I wonder what the FSSP’s practice is?

  14. Alice says:

    Steve K,
    As others have told you, the marriage rite for mixed marriages was rather, uh, sparse before Vatican II. (Even today, certain blessings are not given to couples when one spouse is not baptized.) In the 1940′s, my grandparents were married in the sacristy (which, some sources say was actually an abuse) and most mixed marriages were in the rectory. Later (either in the late 1950′s or the 1960′s), when both parties were baptized, weddings were in front of the Communion rail, but with no Mass. Even getting a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic (or in my grandmother’s case, a non-Christian) was difficult. Even when the non-Catholic spouse was willing to sign the papers saying that he or she would be willing to raise the children in the Church, it was hard to get a dispensation unless the bride was pregnant. I have known plenty of people who left the Church never to come back because they could not get a dispensation. My grandmother, thankfully, was not one of them. I understand why these restrictions were in place, but it made it hard for people to marry if they lived somewhere where there were few Catholics who were not related to them.

    Does anyone know of any official document that states whether EF mixed marriages are possible since the current code of Canon Law requires that marriages be held in the church, unless this has been dispensed from by the bishop for some reason?

  15. Nathan says:

    I think the practical point is, for the laity, to plan NOW. If you want to have a Nuptial Mass or a Requiem in the Extraordinary Form, you can find 1) a priest willing, under SP, to perform the rite, 2) Musicians (especially for a Requiem, there’s a ton of music not normally sung in the non-Requiem TLM), and 3) permission (preferably written) from the pastor allowing it to occur in his parish.

    Then, for a Requiem, write instructions for your survivors, with copies of all the relevant permissions and points of contact. File it with your will and leave it in a place where the family members who will make arrangements will find it easily. Then discuss it with them.

    Outside of the FSSP and the priestly societies who are accustomed to offering the EF Office for the Dead, Requiem, Absolution,and Burial, I think you really have to help your family and the priest out. Go into detail–does the parish have sufficient large candles to provide six for the catafalque? Does the priest have black vestments and agrees to use them for your Requiem? Is there a black pall? Does your family know to ask for the Office for the Dead? Who do your suvivors contact if the schola who can sing for the Mass isn’t part of the parish?

    In most places, I would think that a both a TLM Nuptial/Requiem and associated rites are rare enough that you would really have to carefully plan.

    In Christ,

  16. Antonius says:

    It is clearly the Holy Father’s intention (cf. Summorum P.) to let the faithful have access to ALL the sacraments in the traditional.
    And it is by no means specifically “American” to speak of rights, but proper and universal. I, as a Catholic of the Latin rite, have rights to (some of) the sacraments, it is my patrimony and the Church’s heritage. There might be nicer ways to phrase this matter, but it is still a fact.

  17. dcs says:

    The question is whether any any of the older discipline applies for the Extraordinary Form.

    That is true. But I think this is a case of “when” (as in, when the Mass can be celebrated) as opposed to “how.” (By the way, I am not saying that I agree with the change in discipline here as I think Catholics should think long and hard before marrying non-Catholics and Church discipline should reflect that.) I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole, so to speak, but things like female altar servers and Communion in the hand touch upon the “how,” while whether or not the Nuptial Mass can be celebrated for a mixed marriage touch upon the “when.” The older rules also prohibit the Nuptial Blessing but I know that it can be given in the case of mixed marriages now (I was not Catholic when my wife and I were married and we had the Nuptial Blessing though not the Mass – it was our choice not to have it).

  18. Dan says:

    Apparently not even deceased priests who championed the TLM their whole lives have a right to the Extraordinary Form Requiem Mass, even if it was scheduled the day before his funeral.

    See this:
    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/

  19. Brian Mershon says:

    William, you said: “Not too long ago I endeavored to make arrangements with an “Institute of Christ the King” priest, but he refused in the strongest possible terms to say a Solemn High Requiem Mass over my earthly remains.”

    This seems odd to me. What seemed to be the holdback? Did you know the priest? Did he prerhpas think the parish pastor would object? Or does the ICR ordinarily perform only low Masses fro requiems?

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    Nathan: I would think that a both a TLM Nuptial/Requiem and associated rites are rare enough that you would really have to carefully plan.

    Indeed, and you give an excellent list of practicalities.

  21. Matt says:

    [I edited this. The next trip down the rabbit hole will result in deletion. This will stay on topic.]

  22. Steve K. says:

    To everyone who responded, thanks. Fascinating reading.

    Alice- “Even getting a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic (or in my grandmother’s case, a non-Christian) was difficult. Even when the non-Catholic spouse was willing to sign the papers saying that he or she would be willing to raise the children in the Church, it was hard to get a dispensation unless the bride was pregnant.”

    Though it is certainly easier now to get a dispensation for a mixed marriage, just to note that it was not treated as a mere formality by the parish. I had a long, long talk with the pastor about my future wife and why we wanted to marry, and some additional counseling and discussion beyond the assigned diocesan pre-marriage program. I am thankful for it, the pastor is a good and holy man, and a dedicated apologist, so it was good exposure for my wife to people who can make the Catholic argument better and with more authority than I.

    In fact, that extra pastoral concern was vastly better than the normal diocesan marriage prep program we went through – vastly better.

  23. kat says:

    This is why I am pushing REALLY hard for one of my 3 sons (2,4,10) to become a FSSP priest!

  24. Gloria says:

    A couple of years ago, a lady whose family went back generations in the Grass Valley community, died and had requested the EF Requiem Mass. She was a loyal parishioner of the GV parish. The local pastor was so opposed to the EF that he had told a group of people who had asked for it that they would be speaking Latin at the grocery store before he would allow it. However, given the background and the insistence of her daughter, a parishioner at St. Stephen’s FSSP Parish in Sacramento, he allowed a priest from St. Stephen’s to have the Requiem. Father brought two altar boys and the St. Stephen’s schola and choir director was able to bring three men from the schola. The dear woman was responsible for the only Latin Mass of any stripe to be celebrated in that venerable old Church. I am a registered parishioner at St. Stephen’s and have my wishes in black and white, with copies to the family member handling my affairs and to St. Stephen’s. There is no way I would be buried from Grass Valley. There are four priests in residence at Grass Valley. One is retired. Not one took the trouble to attend the Requiem for someone whose family had supported that parish for many generations. Shame!

  25. Maynardus says:

    Pace Nathan, as long as we are not talking about a family member cold-calling the local parish and imperiously telling the pastor “Uncle Freddy lived in your parish, and he died yesterday, and his last request was a Solemn Requiem Mass, and you have to do it!”, can we not at least consider it a veritable right under the provisions (and the “spirit”) of Summorum Pontificum” *given ample notice*? [A "veritable right"? I don't know what that is. But I would still have to say "no".]

    Consider: we all know we’re going to die someday, and the average parish requires at least six months notice prior to a wedding. If one knows that they would prefer these liturgies in the traditional rites, there is ample time to arrange them given a modicum of goodwill and willingness to acknowledge S.P. on the part of the pastor. [Good will is not the question. We hope the priests will have good will and the ability to provide a TLM for any occasion. It is after all an important dimension of the Roman Rite. But that was not the point of the question.]

    No, not an ironclad “right” but much closer than we’ve ever been to one…

  26. I am closing this.

    People seem not to be able to stick with the topic of the entry.

    The entry had a point.

    Do people have the RIGHT to a TLM for a funeral or nuptial?

    The answer is NO. They do not have a right to a TLM, but they do have a right to a properly offered Mass, etc., according to the Church’s rites. Those rites can be the newer or the older forms, but they cannot insist they are absolutely entitled to a TLM no matter what.

    That’s it.

    This has nothing to do with what abuse happened at someone’s funeral, or what once happened with mixed marriages, or if you like the TLM more than the Novus Ordo, or whether grape jelly is better than sliced bananas with peanut butter.