PODCAzT 86: Year for Priests; Pius IX on priests, Mass and Holy Days of obligation

In this PODCAzT we will look into the new Year of Priests announced by Pope Benedict XVI and the indulgence priests and lay faithful can gain each in their own ways.

Then, I will start what I hope to carry through the whole Year of Priests, that is, drilling into some texts which might bring the priest into focus.

This time, we will hear Bl. Pius IX (+1878) speak, in his encyclical Amantissimi Redemptoris of 1858, about who the priest is, what Holy Mass is, what the cura animarum is all about especially in light of the obligation priests have to say Mass for their people on feast and Holy Days of Obligation.

In canon law today, Holy Church still requires pastors, that is those who hold the office of pastor, or parish priest, to say Holy Mass for the intention of the people under his care, his subjects, on Sundays and Holy Days.  This is the “pro populo” Mass.   If the priest can’t say that Mass himself, he must see to it that it is celebrated for that intention.

In times past Holy Church has relaxed the discipline of of the faithful to hear Holy Mass in Holy Days, reducing obligations.  However, human nature being what it is, that led to a certain laxity on the part of priests and people alike.  That was bad for their souls.  That eroded the care of souls entrusted to priests.

Therefore, Pope Pius changed the law about these obligations a bit.  The instrument of that change in law was his encyclical Amantissimi Redemptoris of 1858.

Along the way, the Blessed Pope also gives us some fine liturgical theology and a reflection on the priesthood in regard to the splendor of Holy Mass and its fruits.

I read the text of the encyclical in English, indicating some things to listen for, and then ramble for a while when the reading is finished…. as is my wont.

UPDATE: In my original recording I misread Pius and had him quoting Benedict XVI instead of Benedict XIV.  opps.  I corrected the error.


085 09-05-03 Gregory the Great on the Good Shepherd
084 09-04-30 St. Pius V and Quo primum
083 09-04-19 St. Augustine on the challenge of remaining faithful
082 09-03-19 St. Joseph: a hymn dissected & sermon of Bernardine of Siena

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Mike M says:

    Does the requirement of the “pro populo” Mass come into play with the decision in Nice to have only one Mass for the feast of the Pentecost, tomorrow?

  2. Jillian says:

    Fr. Z, thank you for making these Podcazts! I listen to them while I’m working out or when I have a long drive. I am learning a great deal.

    The music playing at the beginning of this one is awesome.

  3. Mark says:

    Unfortunately, Mike, each priests is allowed to count a Mass at which they concelebrate for a separate intention, and even a separate stipend!

    Which is odd, seeing as it is theoretically the SAME Mass they are concelebrating, not a separate mass for each priest involved.

    Which troubled me very much when I learned it, as Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The question now arises whether in this connection the applicable value of the Mass is to be regarded as finite or infinite (or, more accurately, unlimited). This question is of importance in view of the practical consequences it involves. For, if we decide in favour of the unlimited value, a single Mass celebrated for a hundred persons or intentions is as efficacious as a hundred Masses celebrated for a single person or intention. On the other hand, it is clear that, if we incline towards a finite value, the special fruit is divided pro rata among the hundred persons. In their quest for a solution of this question, two classes of theologians are distinguished according to their tendencies: the minority (Gotti, Billuart, Antonio Bellarini, etc.) are inclined to uphold the certainty or at least the probability of the former view, arguing that the infinite dignity of the High Priest Christ can not be limited by the finite sacrificial activity of his human representative. But, since the Church has entirely forbidden as a breach of strict justice that a priest should seek to fulfil, by reading a single Mass, the obligations imposed by several stipends (see Denzinger, n. 1110) these theologians hasten to admit that their theory is not to be translated into practice, unless the priest applies as many individual Masses for all the intentions of the stipend-givers as he has received stipends. But in as much as the Church has spoken of strict justice (justitia commutativa), the overwhelming majority of theologians incline even theoretically to the conviction that the satisfactory — and, according to many, also the propitiatory and impetratory — value of a Mass for which a stipend has been taken, is so strictly circumscribed and limited from the outset, that it accrues pro rata (according to the greater or less number of the living or the dead for whom the Mass is offered) to each of the individuals. Only on such a hypothesis is the custom prevailing among the faithful of having several Masses celebrated for the deceased or for their intentions intelligible.”

    Troubling indeed…

  4. Fr. Ignotus says:

    Mark: Unfortunately, Mike, each priests is allowed to count a Mass at which they concelebrate for a separate intention, and even a separate stipend!

    Correct on the first part (regarding separate intentions), but not correct on the second part. A priest is allowed to keep only one stipend per day. The others he must donate to the parish, or according to the specific dispositions provided for in his diocese.

  5. Fr. Ignotus says:

    Well, to clarify a little more, if the concelebrated Mass is the only Mass the priest has that day, then he can count it as one intention and the stipend that goes along with that intention. If he con/celebrates more than one Mass in the day, then he gets to offer it for as many intentions as Masses that he celebrates, but keeps only one stipend, according to the norms of Canon Law.

  6. Orville says:

    Excellent!! Thanks Fr.

  7. prof. basto says:

    Very opportune that you mention the Mass pro populo at this juncture. It remains a norm of Canon Law in the 1983 Code, currently in force, and seems to have been ignored in the Nice case, as I have pointed out in the other combox.

  8. Greg Smisek says:

    I think it’s rather interesting that Cardinal Stafford refers to “the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious passing [pii transitus] of St John Mary Vianney”, without following this up with “the feast of St. John Vianney”. (Pope Benedict and Cardinal Hummes use similar phrases.)

    Of course, Aug. 4 is not the feast of the Cure d’Ars in the extraordinary form. In the 1960-62 calendar, the feast is on Aug. 8, and before that, it was on Aug. 9.

    Two observations:
    (1) The Mass according to the 1962 Missal on Aug. 4 will be that of the feast of St. Dominic (setting aside the question of using the calendar of the ordinary form for such a Mass). So the plenary indulgence will not harmonize as well with the liturgical day.

    (2) Granted that the sesquicentennial of the death of the Cure d’Ars, rather than his annual feast per se, is the reason for choosing this date for the plenary indulgence and this 12-month span for the Year of the Priest, I still wonder whether the non-mention of August 4 as the feast of the Cure d’Ars indicates a sensitivity to the fact that the Roman Rite is celebrated according to more than one use?

  9. Ttony says:

    Father, just to prove I listen carefully: at exactly 33 minutes in, you habe Bl Pius IX quote an earlier encyclical by “Benedict XVI”! It says something very good about your disposition to our current Holy Father.

    Many thanks for your podcasts – they are a great way to focus on something other than an interminable bus journey.

    With prayers

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