From a reader…
I’m satisfied that Canon 1248 clearly grants us a generous concession to fulfill / satisfy our obligation to assist at Mass on a Sunday by going on Saturday evening. If my Church has a Saturday evening Mass but no Masses on the actual Sunday does that concession become an legal obligation?
Communion in the hand…
Blessings instead of Communion even by lay ministers…
Mass “facing the people”…
Saturday evening Masses as quasi-vigil Masses for Sunday is one of those poorly thought out decisions that, once implemented, has by now become so fixed in the Catholic psyche that they are as easy to roll back as the tide.
Granted: Saturday vigil Masses make attendance at Masses for Sunday Obligation possible for that small segment of society who are truly unable to attend Mass on Sunday morning. The question is, however, begged: why weren’t Sunday afternoon or evening Masses considered?
Sadly, the prevalence of Saturday evening Masses have had the effect, in many parishes, of eliminating the Saturday morning Mass, depriving the faithful of the celebration of numerous feasts, not too mention the regular commemoration of the Blessed Virgin on those Saturdays in Ordinary Time when the day is otherwise unencumbered.
There are now Catholics who, for no other reason than convenience, have not been to Holy Mass on Sunday morning for years.
This plays into our culture’s desacralization of Sunday, which is no longer the Lord’s Day, but merely a “day off.”
That said, Saturday evening Masses allow a Catholic to fulfill her canonical obligation to hear Mass on Sundays, and Holy Days of Obligation.
The Mass that one attends on Saturday evening need not be a Mass of Sunday. It need not have the readings of Sunday. It need not have the prayers of Sunday. It need not have the Gloria, the Creed, the interminable and often incomprehensible prayers of the faithful, the collection, the joke-riddled homily, the cutesy introduction, hoards of Unnecessary Ministers of Communion, the warm and fuzzy comments at the end that one often finds on Sundays. There is a lot of misinformation in this regard, but the law is clear – the obligation is fulfilled by attendance at any Mass offered in a Catholic rite on Saturday evening. The canon has the Latin word “advesperascit“, which sparks some debate as to when “evening” begins. Some people offer reasonable arguments that a Mass at noon fits the definition. I don’t think so, but who am I to judge?
This concession is a favor granted by the Church to the faithful, and, as such, is subject to a broad interpretation. It is a favor. It is not an additional obligation. If a Catholic cannot hear Holy Mass on Sunday for a legitimate reason, she MAY fulfill her obligation by attending Mass on Saturday evening. She does not HAVE to. If she truly cannot get to Mass on Sunday, the canonical obligation ceases.
“We are unprofitable servants; we have done only that which was our duty to do.”
We should all strive for better than just hearing Mass solely out of a sense of obligation. Let us examine our consciences and ask ourselves if we are settling for the bare minimum. Give the obligations of the virtue of Religion, that could be sinful.
Would that every Catholic might desire to attend Mass often, even daily, to worship God as is His due, not just with routine presence, but with fervent, interiorly active receptivity and gratitude.