QUAERITUR: Does a TLM on Saturday evening fulfill a Sunday obligation?

From a reader:

Some in our local parish have suggested the 4 pm Saturday slot for a traditional Latin Mass that would count as a Sunday Mass. I.e. what in the Novus Ordo is called a vigil or anticipated Sunday Mass.

Is this "legal" in the Extraordinary Form? I’ve never heard of it.

What you raise is easily answered from the canonical point of view.   Canon 1248 says:

1. 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 of the preceding day.


Since it is a Mass in a Catholic rite on the evening before the Sunday, which is a day of precept, you fulfill the obligation.   It is not necessary that the Mass be the Sunday Mass.  The canon says "a Mass".

However, that said, it would be very strange to have people regularly fulfilling their Sunday obligation by attending the Saturday evening Mass with the Saturday texts.  

The whole idea of evening Masses with the older rite will strike most people as a little odd, since Masses were always in the morning and there wasn’t such a critter as a Saturday anticipated Mass. 

That said, we do now live in an age of electric lighting and the horseless carriage.  People can get to Mass in the evening even when it is dark!   It strikes me as within the range of the imagination that the Roman Rite is flexible enough to accommodate such technological wonders and therefore permit evening Masses.

The question remains of which set of texts to use in the evening, the very day or the Sunday.   I suppose you would use the Sunday texts on the Saturday evening if you are intending that people satisfy their obligation with that particular Mass.

But the whole thing is strange.

I think there should be fewer Saturday Masses, frankly.  I would like to see the emphasis be placed on Sunday, the dies dominica, and provide that there be some Saturday Masses in some places for those tough weekends when Sunday participation at the sacred synaxis would be neigh on impossible or very burdensome.

Let’s have our TLM’s on Sunday and remove the problem.

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  1. Nick says:

    I was under the impression that masses of the older rite were in the morning because the faithful actually fasted from midnight back then. With the new fasting rules breakfast (lunch and dinner)can conveniently be eaten before mass. I remember the Islamic “fasting” of Ramadan where the popular practice was to sleep during the day (so as not to eat) and then gorge all night with Ramadan delicacies. O tempora o mores!

  2. Cantor says:

    I thought the idea behind Saturday anticipation Masses was that, liturgically, Saturday evening *is* Sunday–which is why 1st Vespers falls on Saturday.

    This seems to matter little in determining which Mass to say: liturgically, Saturday evening is Sunday; therefore, the Sunday texts are uniquely appropriate.

  3. I think there should be more Saturday masses, not less. By this I mean Saturday morning mass, like any other weekday. So many parishes have foregone their Saturday morning mass and only have the anticipated Sunday mass in the evening. It makes it hard to find a convenient Saturday mass when you have a regular Saturday obligation (work, or a regular volunteer position, etc.). If there were more options (as there are, generally, for Sundays and for other weekdays) then it would be easier to make it to Mass on Saturday.

  4. John says:

    I was told once by a priest that according to Canon law a Vigil Mass cannot be celebrated before 6p.m. yet many churches have them earlier than that, with one I know of having theirs at 12noon!!! If Saturday Evening is considered Sunday does that mean that Sunday evening Masses are then Monday Masses and don’t count to fulfill your obligation?

  5. henri says:

    Why did Saturday vigil Masses appear in the first place? Anything more sinister than to allow more opportunities to attend?

  6. Phil (NL) says:

    It looks like there are important differences in the practice of mass times in different countries though. From what I’ve picked up from various comments on this blog, it seems that in the US it’s customary (or at least hardly unusual) to have Masses spread out over the weekend, on late Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, and Sunday throughout the day. In Europe however, choices tend to be more limited: the usual program is one Saturday evening mass – usually starting between 19:00 and 20:00 – and at best 2 Sunday masses, both in the (sometimes very early) morning. Mass that starts after 12:00 is virtually unheard of.

    If in such a situation the Saturday mass wouldn’t count, it would be very inconvenient to quite a few of the people. Not that ‘inconvenient’ is a reason to skip Mass, but there’s no reason to make it overly inconvenient either. Add to this the general lack of priests meaning Masses could be scarse and/or further away (the 3 Mass program above is for the lucky, in more rural areas those 3 tend to be spread out over 3 different parishes), I’d say that Saturday evening mass is an outcome for many.

  7. Michael UK says:

    The English & Welsh Bishops’ Conference issued a document which stated that if it was not convenient to get to Mass at the local parish church one could fullfil one’s Sunday/Holyday duty by attendance at a nearby CofE church or Non-Conformist [even anti-papist I presume]chapel. Unfortunately I an unable to cut & paste it and it is dificult to locate ontheir web-site.

    Further, the same hierarchy opined, some years ago, that the Sunday Duty was unimportant and Mass on any day could suffice.

    You could not make it up!

  8. Bob says:

    Basically you can fulfil your Mass obligation at any sort of Mass (wedding, funeral, Saturday, Sunday, OF, EF, Byzantine, Coptic, etc.) celebrated from Saturday afternoon to Sunday midnight. The question of what constitutes Saturday afternoon divides canon lawyers. The Brits say after 12 noon, the Americans say later, maybe after 1600 if I remember rightly. However the general rule is that we apply the more lenient reasonable approach and take the earlier time so as not to put people in sin. Most ordinary people I’ve come across though wouldn’t feel right counting, e.g. a wedding, as their Sunday obligation and would come again (or indeed would confess missing Mass).

  9. Kradcliffe says:

    I think I’ve only ever seen the Sunday readings used on Saturday vigils.

    As someone who has had to work whatever hours the restaurant manager wants, Saturday vigils have been very helpful.

  10. Thomasso says:

    “The English & Welsh Bishops’ Conference issued a document which stated that if it was not convenient to get to Mass at the local parish church one could fullfil one’s Sunday/Holyday duty by attendance at a nearby CofE church or Non-Conformist [even anti-papist I presume]chapel.”

    If true, the bishops here are seriously wrong. The obligation is to attend Mass; it is not an obligation to attend a religious service. Protestant ecclesial communions cannot celebrate Mass, ipso facto – therefore an obligation to attend Mass cannot be satisified by attending one of their services.

    I’d not previously come across this episcopal opinion. However, Things are certainly getting worse here in the UK, so nothing surprises me any more.

  11. Mark S. says:

    Henri: I don’t know the exact reasoning behind Saturday evening Masses, BUT I remember a footnote in the Jungman’s 1940’s book on the history of the Mass liturgy. He makes the point that: the Sunday celebration begins on Saturday night with 1 Vespers of Sunday; if evening Mas on Sunday were ever permitted, it may interfere with pre-existing devotional practices, e.g Benediction; the logical resolution is a Saturday night Mass when the Sunday celebration has already begun.

    Regarding having a TLM on Saturday night, the majority of Traditionalists I know would regard this as absolutely out of the question – it’s “not 1962”. Many of the people I know would prefer a return to the pre-1962 practices and only accept 1962 out of obedience, and so accepting a Saturday vigil Mass would not even be countenanced.

  12. Mark S. says:

    Michael UK: The opinions you quote from the England & Wales hierarchy don’t surprise me one little bit. The one thing that does surprise me is that at one point they would say “the Sunday Duty was unimportant and Mass on any day could suffice”, then a year ago they transferred many Holidays to Sunday just so that people would attend! If Sundays are unimportant and any day will do, for what reason do Holidays need transferring, as presumably they’re just as unimportant as Sundays and it doesn’t matter whether or not people attend?

  13. Nick says:

    “provide that there be some Saturday Masses in some places for those tough weekends when Sunday participation at the sacred synaxis would be neigh on impossible or very burdensome.”

    That’s why the Saturday evening Mass exists, Fathers.

    It’s just that some people prefer to go to Saturday Mass rather than go to Sunday Mass, which is not – I think – in accordance to what the Church teaches. Sunday is the Day of the Lord, not the day of the football game – though I know there are some Americans out there who think otherwise.

  14. Nick says:

    correct: Father.

    My deepest apologies.

  15. JPG says:

    I do not recall the reason given for the practice but I do recall the sense in the 1970’s of “getting away with something” ie being able to sleep in on Sunday. Cardinal Krol issued a directive when it was imposed on Philadelphia with the new code of Canon Law in 1983 on the Sanctity of Sunday and allowing only one vigil in a Parish. Prior to that one needed to drive to Jersey. To this day I would rather attend a Sunday Evening Mass than a vigil. As to the English bishops “Are they nuts”? Better not to go than go to a heretical service.

  16. John R says:

    “the idea behind Saturday anticipation Masses was that, liturgically, Saturday evening is Sunday—which is why 1st Vespers falls on Saturday.”

    Cantor, the problem with this is that your statement above is not always true. Maybe 90% of the time it is, but in recent weeks, we have had a larger than normal frequency of First or Second Class feasts on Saturdays, such that the Vespers on those Saturdays was of the day’s feast and not the First Vespers of Sunday. Take All Saint’s Day, for example. Other recent examples include the Second Class feasts of the Maternity of the BVM (Oct 10) and St. Luke (Oct 18) – both had their Vespers on Saturday, not the First Vespers of Sunday per the rubrics of concurrance. In my opinion, it would seem to be entirely wrong from a strictly liturgical standpoint to say the Sunday Mass on a Saturday evening when the First Vespers of Sunday were impeded by a higher Office of the Saturday’s feast.

    This will happen again on Dec. 27 – St. John’s Vespers over the First Vespers of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas
    Again, April 25 – St. Mark’s Vespers over the First Vespers of the 2nd. Sunday after Easter
    July 25 – St. James
    August 15 – Assumption
    August 22 – Immaculate Heart of Mary

    This is not to say or comment about the fulfilling of one’s obligation, but to say something of Mass texts which should be used on those Saturday evenings.

  17. EDG says:

    Phil –
    I think European practice varies widely and much depends on the culture of the particular country. In Spain, for example, where they do everything at night, starting dinner at 10:00 pm, for example, evening weekday masses at 7:30 and even 8:30 pm are common. In Madrid, at least, they are pretty well attended, too. I think morning masses may have been very much the norm because of the old fasting rules (prior to VatII, it was 3 hrs before the reception of Communion, although before that it had been from midnight). But in countries where people do everything late, I don’t see anything wrong with evening mass, and even if the 3 hr rule came back, I don’t think it would be a problem.

    What I don’t like, though, is the weakening of Sunday. Focusing on Saturday masses at any hour as a way of “getting rid” of the Sunday obligation has actually contributed much more to a legalistic mentality and to the abandonment of a very special liturgical time, the Sabbath.

  18. Phil (NL) says:


    I should perhaps have been more careful, my experience mainly relates to France/Belgium/Netherlands/Germany and a bit of Italy. I just find it curious that – judging from comments on this blog – parishes in the US seem to have a much larger diversity in Mass times.

  19. Andrew says:

    “The English & Welsh Bishops’ Conference issued a document which stated that if it was not convenient to get to Mass at the local parish church one could fullfil one’s Sunday/Holyday duty by attendance at a nearby CofE church or Non-Conformist [even anti-papist I presume]chapel. Unfortunately I an unable to cut & paste it and it is dificult to locate on their web-site.”


    Well put Michael UK. Of course, if certain UK bishops weren’t busy closing parishes, then Catholics would have no problem finding a Catholic Church.

    Having said that, I confess to sometimes going to Anglican Evensong in York Minster (NOT to fulfill obligation) but for the sheer joy of watching something done reverently and according to rubrics…which is hard to find in many Catholic ‘worshipping communities’.

  20. Dominic H says:

    One argument I have heard (on which sources? not sure? authoritative or not?) was that the introduction of first mass of sunday on Saturday evenings was intended to recall early Christian and (continuing) Jewish practice of welcoming in the Sabbath on its eve. Any comments?
    (And – yes, that would make masses held on Sunday evening – after which time I’m not sure? – the exceptions to the rule, as being on the eve of a non-sabbath day, rather than the first mass of sunday on a Saturday evening)

    As for weekday evening masses….it is so frustrating that in a city the size of London that almost all churches that do have them have them no later than 6pm (5.30, more commonly). If one finishes work (as in many office “9-5” jobs at 5.30 or even 5pm, with travel required, it can be really hard or impossible to get to them. Although of course and at least the Oratory does have evening devotions four weekday evenings a week a bit later

  21. Angelo says:

    I understood the vigil Mass to be ONLY to accomodate people who could NOT attend Sunday because of their jobs, traveling, etc. I recall the example of a “hospital nurse on shift” being given to me when the vigil Mass business started. As with everything else liberally given, the crack has become a fissure.

    They should not be before 4:00, is also what I have understood from the beginning. But also that it is within the power of the bishop to change that. SIGH.

  22. John says:

    Vigil Masses are supposed to take place on Saturday evenings not Saturday afternoon. As the evening starts at 6p.m. then this is why the Church says they must be celebrated after this time.
    The idea behind them was for places where the priest may have had a few churches to serve so it eased his burden. On the Scottish island of Mull the little church there is served from Oban Cathedral on the mainland. As there were no ferry sailings on Sundays a priest would have to go on Saturday and stay till Monday which meant he couldn’t say Mass anywhere else. The Vigil Mass allowed him to go on a Saturday morning and spend the day visiting the people then say Mass and get the last ferry back leaving him free on Sunday to say Mass in other places. The Vigil Mass as it was meant to be. Unfortunately, most churches that have a Vigil don’t need it and as for the laity, you are only supposed to use the Vigil Mass if you genuinely cannot get on a Sunday, i.e., because of work. I’ve found that most people who go to them don’t need to go and unfortunately get out of the habit of going on Sundays. I know of one person who told me once that she hadn’t got to Mass at the weekend because of the terrible wind and rain on the Saturday. Sunday was a beautiful day but she never even gave a thought to going to Mass then because she had gotten out of the habit of going that day.
    Another person had been away for the weekend and when I asked what the church was like in the town she was visiting she replied that she didn’t get there because they only had Mass on Sunday morning and “I prefer a Vigil Mass”.
    The silliest reason I was ever given for going to Vigil Masses was from a lady who said that she was not a morning person so the Vigil suited her. When I said that she could go to the Sunday evening Mass she said that she didn’t like evening Masses. I pointed out that the Vigil was an Evening Mass (it was actually an hour and a half later than the Sunday evening Mass) she said “Oh know it’s not, it’s the first Mass of Sunday so it can’t possibly be an Evening Mass”.

  23. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    Back in the 1980s I attended an “independent” traditionalist chapel in the Cleveland area where the priest, a exiled Picpus father, had a regular Saturday vigil Mass.

    When the priest past away in 1991, the chapel came under the control of the FSSPX which swiftly abolished the vigil Mass.

  24. Pierpaolo says:

    In continuity with the Jewish tradition from which we grow the evening begins the day (Gn 1:5 “Evening came and morning came the First day” note that evening comes first), hence First vespers begin the Sunday on Saturday evening. As Christians and especially on Sunday we go towards the light, towards the East and the rising sun and not towards the night like the pagans who start the day in the morning and go towards the darkness.

    A Sunday Mass after First Vespers of the Sunday also resonates particularly clearly with the Easter Vigil which commemorates the night from which every Sunday Eucharist flows.

  25. Liam says:

    In the OF in the US, 4pm is the canonical time for Saturday evening.

  26. George Festa says:

    Many of the diocesan TLM Masses around here are in the evening and rarely in “prime time” id est, Sunday Morning. Sure, it’s great to assist at a TLM any time, but if it is a weekday Mass it narrows the scope of those who are able to attend, and thereby be exposed to the E.F. of the Roman Rite. Another thing to consider is/are those who observe the traditional fast may have a tough time going from Midnight to a 4:00 PM TLM (16 hour fast).

    Geo. Festa
    Western, MA

  27. Brian Mershon says:

    James Garrison: Amen. We have parishes here in the supposed “conservative” Bible Belt that are reform of the reform and parishes that have the Traditional Latin Mass, but neither of them offers a regular Sat. morning Mass.

    “Priest shortage” and “funeral Masses” and “Marriage Masses” you know on Saturdays, makes it just “too difficult” for Father to provide a regular Sat. a.m. Mass.


  28. And what about 6pm Sunday EF Masses that are intended to count for the Sunday obligation and use the Sunday readings? Shouldn’t that really be an anticipated Mass for the next day, Monday?

  29. Ohio Annie says:

    I almost always attend the vigil Mass because around here the vigil Masses tend to be much quieter and more meditative. As a result there are fewer families with small noisy children and I can hear things. At most of the Sunday Masses I can’t hear a thing. Our building is in the old style, built like a whispering gallery. It is very difficult for us who are hard of hearing.

    Those of you from Columbus will know which parish I mean probably, it is in the inner city and is run by an order.

    Also, around here, during Lent and Advent, it is the vigil Mass that gets the full chant and Latin treatment. The Sunday Masses still have the hymns and all English, etc.

  30. paul says:

    It makes sense to encourage more Sunday morning masses- thus Catholics can follow the traditional fast from midnight. The traditional fast is still mandatory in the Eastern Orthodox churches.

  31. Tomás López says:

    A related point of interest: Due to the terrific heat here in Puerto Rico and the lack of air conditioning in most churches, evening Masses are a must. However, it is more usual to have them on a Sunday evening rather than a Saturday evening. For instance, this is my parish Mass schedule: Saturday: 7:00am (the Saturday Mass, obviously) and 600pm. On Sunday: 9:00am 11:30am, 5:30pm, and 8:00pm. In case you are wondering why the first Sunday Mass is at 9:00am, it is because the fathers are giving Holy Mass in the countryside missions in the early hours.

  32. Charivari Rob says:

    Where I grew up (NJ), our parish had two Saturday evening Masses (5 and 7 pm) that they eventually consolidated to one. It would not be unusual for them to have had 4 funerals and weddings during the day. I don’t recall our parish or any of the ones around us having the anticipated Mass any earlier than 5 pm.

    Where I live now (Boston), it’s quite common for parishes to have 4 pm Mass on Saturday. I’ve never really thought to ask someone. I’ve just assumed that being further north (and further east in the time zone), it’s a case of working with daylight in the winter months.

    It kinda drives me nuts, actually. We’re facing an ever-dwindling number of available priests. Our parish gave up its Saturday evening Mass years ago. Yet there are probably a dozen parishes within a few short miles, all with 4 pm Masses, and we can’t get anybody to cooperate and be flexible!

    The same thing on Sunday morning – we could probably staff the 12 parishes with 8 or 9 priests on any given Sunday if folks would agree to stagger their schedules. But each parish has a 9 or 9:30 Mass (or an 8 am just ending), so each parish needs a priest between 9 and 9:30!

  33. Kradcliffe says:

    I just remembered that I’ve heard people talk about a midnight Mass every Saturday night in downtown Cincinnati. I think this was back in the 50’s and 60’s. I remember people telling me that they’d take a girl out for a date, then to Mass, before taking her home. I guess that was a way of fulfilling the Sunday obligation. I suppose they weren’t required to fast before that Mass, either.

  34. pelerin says:

    Some interesting comments here including the extraordinary one from John regarding the lady on evening Masses.

    Kradcliffe mentions midnight Masses and no fasting.
    I understand the fast used to be from midnight so people would have been within the letter of the law eating before midnight!

    I remember some years ago going to a dance in aid of the local Cathedral’s roof fund. It was Friday evening and there were lots of goodies laid out to eat, many including meat. At midnight we all realised that we could now eat anything on the table and plunged in!
    Perhaps this was taking the laws too literally but it was certainly good discipline for life.

  35. chironomo says:

    Henri said:

    “Why did Saturday vigil Masses appear in the first place? Anything more sinister than to allow more opportunities to attend?”

    It wasn’t really sinister at all. There were a variety of forces that lead to the practice. Among the most powerful of these forces in the US was the influx of immigrants, primarily Irish and Italian, most of whom were Catholic and many of whom worked in the ’round-the-clock factory industry in New England and the Northeast, as well as in mining and manufacture in the rust belt states. Unions worked out accomodation deals that employees could not be scheduled for back-to back shifts (usually 12 hour), meaning that they would either be off work on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, allowing those Catholic workers to attend Mass either on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Without the Saturday anticipated Mass, many Catholic workers were faced with a serious dillema of work vs. church.

    I had read this in a history of the parish that I served at in Brockton MA, Saint Colman of Cloyne, which was a historically Irish factory worker’s parish. I don’t know if this is the reason that the dispensation was given, but it was a very practical application at least.

  36. Marcin says:

    Saturday anticipating Mass is not my favorite either. Let us remember that the celebration of Lord’s Day (and any day for that matter) consists not exclusively of the Eucharistic synaxis – Mass, but of a full cycle of rites, that is the Office. It has been a very unfortunate development in the West that the Office fell in disuse. Yes, it is in disuse. We should not fool ourselves with the image of such exotic environs like monasteries populated scarcely with a bunch of monks or religious (at least it’s communal over there), or a private recitation mandated for secular clergy. That’s not a situation intended in the earlier ages of the Church, it was a communal prayer after all. Yes I know, some laymen also pray the Office in one or the other way, but that’s again private.

    This leads to another issue – we have read in this thread so many times that Sunday starts liturgically (as a commemoration of the Resurrection and of the completion of creative work of God as well) after I Vespers. In fact it sounds like stating that Sunday starts after first evening – excuse me – burp of John Doe. Well, no one has ever seen it happening or been there for it, no one even knows where to find said John Doe! We just say it happens and happily go on with our lives. I am telling you, our considerations get quite abstract and seem to hinge on not existing hook.

    Now, if the use of the Office get back to its rightful place, as proposed by VatII (and I am sure there are places where it actually happened), we could look at what our Eastern brethren practice more sympathetically. Sunday worship there consists really of entire cycle of rites beginning with Great Vespers, Orthros and culminates with Divine Liturgy. All of it is one celebration, only fragmented according to natural cycle of the day, with emphasis changing accordingly. So if there is an impediment to attending Orthros and Div Liturgy on actual Sunday you could attend Great Vespers only (what is encouraged anyway by virtue of the unity of the Dominical celebration) with no detriment to your spiritual life, unless it becomes a habit. No, you would not receive Holy Mysteries each and every Sunday this way, but aren’t we all tired of habitual en masse communicating, without proper discernment?

    So get the priest in your parish to do what they are ordained for and celebrate I Vespers with all the bells and smells to its full rubrical extent, so it also looks like Sunday ritual. Thus we could stop pondering whether it’s enough late for a Saturday Mass to be Sunday Mass, “and BTW Father, which propers to use?”

  37. Maynardus says:

    Regarding the lack of Saturday “daily” Masses, take this as an opportunity to introduce the E.F. into a parish – or extend the opportunity to attend the E.F. in a parish where it is already offered (but not exclusively).

    The parish where I attend the E.F. hadn’t had a Saturday morning Mass in over 10 years, but even while S.P. was a-borning they institited a regular T.L.M. every Saturday at 0800. It is sparsely attended, but no worse than the weekday Masses in the O.F. Meanwhile it provides a “low-pressure” enviroment for fledgling altar servers to gain experience and newbies to experience the ancient rite without being conspicuously absent from their regular parish. And there isn’t usually much difficulty finding a priest to fill-in when the pastor has another commitment. In fact a number of local priests learning the T.L.M. have celebrated it as their first “public” Mass in the E.F.


  38. Maynardus says:

    The question of regular or even exclusive attendance at the Saturday “vigil” Mass has long been something I’ve wondered about. At my parish there are a whole host of people who *exclusively* attend the Saturday afternoon Mass and have been doing so for many years. For the most part they are retirees so there is no question of necessity, it is purely a matter of convenience and personal preference. They even identify themselves as “4:00 people” in conversation with other members of the parish.

    Perhaps it is licit but it does seem as though they’re “getting away with something” as another poster noted.

    Hope this isn’t becoming too much of a rabbit hole ;-)

  39. dymphna says:

    Maynardus, there is nothing wrong with exclusively
    attending the vigil Mass. My husband works on Sunday.
    It’s the vigil Mas or nothing. As for retirees, there’s
    nothing wrong with them going to the vigil either. It
    has less kids so they can hear the priest and it’s
    usually more serious. They aren’t getting away with
    anything. The Church allows the vigil and nobody is
    required to be stricter than what Mother Church allows.

  40. Nick says:

    “One argument I have heard (on which sources? not sure? authoritative or not?) was that the introduction of first mass of sunday on Saturday evenings was intended to recall early Christian and (continuing) Jewish practice of welcoming in the Sabbath on its eve. Any comments?”

    The Sabbath is welcomed by VESPERS. How many Roman Catholics have ever even heard of Vespers much less attended one? I recall the general puzzlement and consternation when Pope Benedict XVI presided at multiple Vespers during his visit to Germany. The Mass (at least in the U.S.A.)has become the utilitarian work horse that is trotted out for any and all occasions. Which brings up the question of how many priests actually know how to serve Vespers. I asked once why there never seemed to be any Benediction services anymore and the priest answered: “Why would you want a hamburger when you could have a steak?”

  41. Charivari Rob says:

    Kradcliffe mentioned post-date, post-midnight Sunday Masses back in the 50s and 60s. Chironomo mentioned Masses in consideration of workers’ schedules.

    My mother has frequently told me how it was when she and her sister first came to the US (in the late 50s and early 60s) and were living with relatives in NYC. They’d go out Saturday night to the Irish dances and events, then go (in the wee, small hours of the morning) to the “Printers’ Mass” at St. Agnes on East 43rd Street. At least one of the big papers was just down the street. After the Sunday edition was finished, the pressmen would go to Mass before going home. After Mass, she and her sister would take the subway home to the Bronx and walk home from the elevated stop – all of this unescorted! A different era, indeed.

  42. Tomás López says:

    At the risk of rabbitholing the thread: I mentioned this to my mother, who lived in New York City in 1952. She told me that they used to have something called the “Printers’ Mass” in the middle of the night on Saturday (technically, Sunday morning). I googled the phrase and found this article from the May 7, 1922 New York Times: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9501E5DE1439EF3ABC4F53DFB3668389639EDE&oref=slogin The same search also uncovered something similar in Pittsburgh, which apparently required Vatican approval for a 2:30am Mass: http://www.diopitt.org/archives/Epiphany%20Uptown%20Photos%20Page.htm

  43. Dominic H says:


    a-ha, yes, that makes sense. Regrettably that situation is commonplace in the UK too – although it is probably not so bad in (certain parishes in) London as elsewhere.

  44. Marcin says:

    Nick: the priest answered: “Why would you want a hamburger when you could have a steak?”

    It begs the answer: “Then Father, how about TLM?”

  45. Brian Mershon says:

    Funny. With all of this talk about the Sat. vigil Mass being quieter for the seniors. As aI look around after every daily Novus Ordo Mass I attend, and after nearly every TLM I attend, prior to, and after Mass, it is predominantly the seniors who are chit-chatting loudly in the church disrupting my preparation and thanksgiving prayers.

    And even though I grew up through the post-Conciliar devastation, many of these seniors were actually taught by nuns and priests why one should NEVER talk out loud during church.

    Go figure…

  46. Brian: And even though I grew up through the post-Conciliar devastation, many of these seniors were actually taught by nuns and priests why one should NEVER talk out loud during church.

    Of course you know there are (at least) two types of seniors —

    (1) Those who followed those same nuns and priests into apostasy in the the 1960s when they said “we don’t believe any of that stuff any more.” These seniors are the loud ones, vocal and adamant about “not going back” (to real faith and liturgy).

    (2) Those who have remained steadfast through it all, true to the faith, many of them really white martyrs these past four decades of spiritual torture. In my experience, most of these are pretty quite, certainly not vocal either before/after Mass or in parish affairs, on which they long since gave up.

    I suspect the good and faithful seniors in (2) are the silent majority, and certainly don’t deserve to be tarred with the brush of the unfaithful ones in (1).

  47. Ohio Annie says:

    You won’t hear any idle talk at all in my parish, even though it is not a TLM parish. Those priests in habits stress reverence always.

    And the Sunday Masses are so loud during the Mass that often the choir has to on the spur of the moment simply cancel singing a quiet chant piece because no one will hear anyway. It is hoped that the resulting “Oratorio For Babbling and Cheerios Munching Children” might eventually cause a change in behavior. But I doubt it. Any complaints about excessive noise result in your being labeled “anti-life.” Even to the lady who is homeschooling six.

    I ask of the people who remember, in the pre-VII days, was it common to bring even babies to Mass? Or did one of the adults stay home with the smallest children? Or did the parish have a nursery?

    God bless all of you and Fr. Z. for teaching me more about the Church.

  48. Emilio III says:

    At a Jesuit university in the late 1960s we had a 10pm Saturday Mass in the Student Center Chapel. I seem to remember it being described as an “early Sunday” Mass rather than “anticipated”, being said after First Vespers. The three hour fast rules made receiving Communion impractical for most people, but that was expected.

  49. Liam says:

    My elderly parents attend the Saturday evening Mass almost exclusively because it takes my mother many hours to get ready to leave the house and when she has to try to make the last morning Mass (11:30) she is up at 3AM.

    Sniffiness about evening Mass betrays a lack of pastoral understanding in favor an abstract preference for tidiness. It would help if people understood that thinking about what other people are “getting away” with is not a good place to begin consideration of this issue and is in fact a tremendous distraction.

  50. I once pointed out to someone the irony that they attended a Mass Monday-Saturday at 8am, then a Saturday Mass at 5pm, and…amazingly…the one day they never went to church was Sunday.

  51. Jason Keener says:

    I don’t think the Saturday night Vigil Mass has worked that well in the big picture. The Vigil Mass has now given Catholics the impression that keeping the Lord’s Day on Sunday as a day totally set apart for the things of God is not really that important. The Saturday Night Vigil seems to be another way in which the Church hierarchy has tried to do too much accommodating to the world and the ways of the world.

    It probably would have been a better idea to have insisted that Catholics do all that they could to assist at Holy Mass on Sundays, and if that truly were impossible because of serious work obligations, etc., that person could have been legitimately excused from their Sunday obligation.

    There also doesn’t seem to be anything in the Church’s Tradition that favors such a radical invention as the Saturday Vigil Mass that satisfies one’s Sunday obligation. It is certainly true that the liturgical days for Sunday and feast days have always started with First Vespers that are celebrated on the eve of the feast or on Saturday afternoon to prepare for Sunday; however, it was never permitted to celebrate a Mass for the feast or for the Sunday on the eve of the day itself, at the time of First Vespers. In fact, the Church’s law was explicit on this point, prescribing that Mass could not begin more than one hour before dawn or more than one hour after Noon (canon 821, §1). (1917 Code of Canon Law)

  52. Maureen says:

    Downtown, there’s a parish that always offers 6 PM Mass on Sunday night. Very popular. But in recent years, our local Catholic university started offering not just 6 PM Sunday Mass for students, but 7, 9, and 10 PM Sunday Masses as well!

    As soon as word leaked out and such Masses were offered in bigger venues than residence halls, the university became the go-to Mass for travelers running late getting back to our town on the weekend. :)

  53. Henry says:

    Dr. Fratantuono: I once pointed out to someone the irony that they attended a Mass Monday-Saturday at 8am, then a Saturday Mass at 5pm, and…amazingly…the one day they never went to church was Sunday.

    I wonder whether you missed the real irony — that in many localities, the only day when one cannot find a tolerably reverent Mass is Sunday, the Day of the Lord.

    Regarding Saturday, I understand it’s common wisdom among music directors that the one weekend Mass when they can get away with traditional hymns and perhaps a bit of chant is the Saturday vigil Mass with its older congregation.

  54. George Festa says:

    During my undergraduate years (Mid 1980s) I attended a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA at 11:00 PM Sunday evening. I don’t know if this is still part of the Mass schedule at the venerable Jesuit college, but talk about the 11th hour, wow !

  55. Will says:

    Our cathedral has long had the so-called “Skiers’ Mass” on Sunday evenings at 7pm.

    My pastor is the vocations director for the diocese, and he’s instituted a Saturday morning Mass for vocations. I believe it’s the only parish in the diocese that offers the regular Saturday Mass as opposed to the anticipated Sunday Mass.

  56. Henry Edwards says:

    Will: I believe it’s the only parish in the diocese that offers the regular Saturday Mass as opposed to the anticipated Sunday Mass.

    Strange. Saturday is the only day besides Sunday when my home parish has two morning Masses — the regular Saturday 8 am Mass (with about half the attendance of the M-F daily 8 am Mass) is preceded at 6:30 am by a special Mass for right-to-life supporters who will be going thereafter to pray in front of an abortion mill.

  57. Henry Edwards says:

    On a somewhat different tack, I understand that for many years the only regular TLM in our diocese was at 10 pm each Sunday night.

    It was celebrated by a legendary independent priest who on weekends celebrated TLM’s as far apart as Indiana and Texas before winding up late each Sunday at his Tennessee home base.

  58. Charivari Rob says:

    George Festa – “During my undergraduate years (Mid 1980s) I attended a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA at 11:00 PM Sunday evening. I don’t know if this is still part of the Mass schedule at the venerable Jesuit college, but talk about the 11th hour, wow !”

    If I recall correctly, Boston College offers Mass Sunday evening (9 P.M. )simultaneously at three or four locations across their campus(es). I would guess that part of the rationale is to not have the excuse of being at the ‘wrong’ part of campus at Mass time. This is the time. The place has been made convenient to all. Now is the time to put down anything else you’re doing and come pray.

  59. Ken says:

    Queen of the Holy Rosary in Vienna, Ohio (FSSP parish) finally got rid of their Saturday night “Sunday” Mass. Kudos to them. I never did understand how a 1967 “anticipated Mass” could be used with the 1962 missal.

    The only parish I know of that still does a Saturday night “Sunday” Mass is Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, New Jersey. Hopefully they will follow the lead of the FSSP in Ohio and phase it out. Yes, it has been there for years, but so was sedevacantism at that chapel. Somehow they were able to get rid of that…

  60. Kathleen says:

    Ohio Annie: Yes in pre-VII days parents would bring babies and toddlers to Mass,
    although some did not, the adults taking turns. Most churches that I recall had
    a “cry” room at the back. It had a large window in the door, so that parents
    could still see the altar, but their little ones could not be heard.

  61. John R says:


    Excellent words about the need to restore the Office as the communal prayer of the ENTIRE church! Couldn’t agree with you more. Yes, Saturday evenings should resound the full glory of First Vespers of the Sunday (except when according to the rubrics, the Vespers of Saturday is of a higher ranking feast instead, with Commemoration of the coming Sunday).

    We, indeed, have a lot to learn and recover from the Eastern Churches – the concept of full vocally participatory liturgies and the full involvement of laity and clergy alike in the Divine Office. The East prays the Liturgy!

  62. lmsrep says:

    Here in the Diocese of Leeds in England, St. Marie’s, Halifax was until recently one of the few churches in the deanery not to have an OF Vigil Mass. St. Marie’s now has a regular Vigil Mass at 6.00p.m. with a difference. The Vigil Mass is in the EF – usually Low Mass. This Mass is proving popular with parishioners, members and friends of the Latin Mass Society and the curious, some of whom have returned brandishing brand new 1962 Missals and even attended a recent chant workshop day.
    In this diocese under a previous bishop and in the days of the Indult of Pope JPII, Masses in the EF were forbidden on the third Sunday of the month (sic). At that time therefore it was decided to act within the law and doing all that the Faith allows, to have Vigil Masses at any time after noon wherever and whenever we could on Saturdays. As one might hear in Yorkshire, “Owt is better than nowt”. The Vicar General was always happy to turn a blind eye.
    We live in uncertain and precarious times, any opportunity to hear Mass in the EF should be applauded. Twenty odd years ago I recollect people walking out of an “allowed” Sunday Mass when they saw the priest not wearing a biretta or maniple, muttering about him being a modernist sell-out. Those people never came again to that church, but the Priest did – with a biretta and maniple. He had forgotten to bring them the time before. He continued to say Mass for years for us and would still do so if requested. What might he have done, had he heard those ungrateful people’s protests?

  63. Michael R. says:

    Some people can’t attend Sunday morning Mass because of their work schedules. Maybe it would be a good idea to change the law so that attendance at Saturday evening vespers fulfils the Sunday obligation.

  64. Lucia says:

    Michael R…what we don’t “have” time for, we don’t make time for.

    this coming from a student with an incredible workload and class schedule — and I attend daily Mass.

    this isn’t to brag or to admonish. it’s just a demonstration of how God is not hard to make time for, assuming He is our top priority as He should be…

  65. Former Altar Boy says:

    I always understood that evening vigil Masses were allowed because, based on our Jewish roots (like so much our liturgy, calendar, and church architecture, to name a few), the new days starts at sunset. Of course, the Jews got it –as do we – from Genesis: “Evening came and morning came; the first [second, third, etc.] day.”

    Back in the good old days – before the 40 year desert of nonsense and novelty following Vatican II, the only Sunday or holy day Mass outside of Sunday or the actual holy day was Midnight Mass at Christmas. Personally, I would like to see more TLM Masses on Sunday mornings, but if a church has a priest available, I believe Saturday evening Masses are very helpful for Catholics in the law enforcement, fire & rescue, transportation fields (to name a few essential jobs) who want to fulfill their obligation at a traditional Mass but have limited opportunity.

  66. John R says:

    Comment about the Sunday evening Masses being for Monday – this saying is inadmissible.

    The Liturgical Day known as Sunday begins with First Vespers on Saturday evening (except in cases where I pointed out above) and ends with Compline on Sunday night inclusive. Monday begins liturgically at midnight. The Church does not follow a strict Jewish reckoning of sunset to sunset. Every Sunday (and First Class feast) has two Vespers, one on Saturday and then the other on Sunday evening. Only when a First Class feast falls on a Monday does the Sunday Office end earlier. All other days begin and end just the same as the secular calendar day – midnight to midnight.

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