From a reader…
I have observed several Priests of my acquaintance celebrating Mass in various private residences for different occasions, the latest of which was Mother’s Day (the strangest being Christmas Midnight Mass). Most if not all of these private Masses have taken place in non-consecrated space, i.e. in normal living rooms. Are Priests allowed to do this for their families and friends, particularly when there is a church available (though perhaps not with the same measure of “privacy”)?
Canon 932 stipulates that Holy Mass should be offered in a sacred place, “unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise, in such a case the celebration must be done in a decent place.”
The universal law leaves it up to the priest who will offer the Mass to determine if this is a case of necessity and also to determine what may be a “decent place.” The strong preference of the Church is for sacred actions to take place in sacred places.
Having Mass in Mom’s parlor when there’s a perfectly good church down the street would generally be contrary to the mind of the church. On the other hand, there may be a number of good reasons for saying Mass in Mom’s parlor, including Mom’s inability to get around very well, a nearby pastor who is adamantly opposed to a visiting priest saying Mass in his church (yes, such … creatures exist), a priest on an overdue vacation at home, not wanting to draw the attention which he knows saying Mass at the church down the street would occasion. There are all sorts of reasons.