QUAERITUR: A TLM Sunday obervance of Corpus Christi?

From a reader:

I have a question regarding the Feast of Corpus Christi and its celebration in the Extraordinary Form Calendar. A newly ordained priest friend of mine has been asked to do a Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary form this Sunday for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and he has a question over whether or not it is licit according to the old rubrics.

I was wondering if you knew if their was an indult given before the Second Vatican Council that permitted the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday besides its standard date on the Old Calendar.

Yes, I believe there can be an “external” celebration on Sunday using the Mass formulary for Corpus Christi. 

There was an indult for the USA granted back in the time of Pope Leo XIII.  

It is at least a long standing custom to do this. 

The Ordo for the older Mass prepared by the FSSP also shows that there can be an “External” observance of the Feast.

What a great way for a new priest to mark the first days of his priesthood!

I will remind everyone as well that the true Corpus Christi, Thursday, is the last 1st Thursday of the Year for Priests and people can receive a plenary indulgence that day.

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  1. wolfeken says:

    When I remind people tomorrow in Washington, D.C. about the High Mass and procession we will have on the actual feast of Corpus Christi, it is always nice to be able to send a photo of the pope’s Corpus Christi procession from earlier on that Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

  2. mark1970 says:

    As a point of interest, a similar position now arises in the dioceses of England and Wales. A few years ago, the bishops obtained permission from Rome to observe most Holydays on the nearest Sunday, and asked that those Catholics using the Extraordinary form of Mass observe these days “in common”, i.e. on the same day as everybody else.

    I can’t remember the exact wording used, but the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has made provision in it’s Ordo for these Sunday observances under a condition similar to that described by Father Z. – a Mass of the “external solemnity” of the feast. Again, I’m not sure about this, but I think there was some consultation with Rome about this.

    I think, under the 1960 code of rubrics, the relevant “rules” are around number 460 in the General Rubrics. I think that the feasts of the Sacred Heart and the Rosary of Our Lady can always have an extra Mass on the following Sunday, and this can be extended to other feasts.

    Hope this information helps.

  3. Robert_H says:

    Sacred Heart of Jesus in Grand Rapids, MI has a weekly TLM on Sundays. We routinely defer the weekday Holy days to the following Sunday, so this Sunday is “Corpus Christi Sunday” for us.

    We will have a brief procession Sunday following our 10am NO Mass and there is a larger procession at 2pm from St Dominic to St John Vianney Parishes, sponsored by the KOC (I think.)

  4. M. K. says:

    I was wondering about this myself… of the three parishes offering the TLM that are in driving distance of my home, two are celebrating Corpus Christi on Thursday but one is taking the “external solemnity” approach and having the Mass and procession on Sunday instead.

    I’m curious what the larger context of the “external solemnity” practice might be. Are there written rules about when this may or may not be done? I could imagine pastoral circumstances that call for this (for example, isolated mission churches served by circuit-riding priests who are only able to come on Sundays, or perhaps less frequently) but I’m afraid that this could be an invitation to laxity and possible abuse if there aren’t some regulations.

  5. wolfeken says:

    An “external solemnity” is different from a transfered feast. For instance, the novus ordo version of Corpus Christi (the merged Body and Blood of Christ) is a transfered day, so it cannot be offered tomorrow (not permitted July 1 either). On the traditional calendar, though, it must be offered tomorrow — and may AGAIN be offered on Sunday. One Low Mass and one High Mass are the max for such an “external solemnity.” So the third and beyond TLMs at a parish would have to be the Second Sunday After Pentecost, if not all the Masses.

    I can’t say I’m a fan of these rounded-off holy days, even if there was an American indult for a couple of them by Leo XIII. After all, the pope observes Corpus Christi on Corpus Christi. We should encourage daily Mass! This stuff actively says there is little reason to show up on a non-Sunday.

    And I pity the priest, etc. who prays the traditional Divine Office, as the Office does not observe such an “external solemnity” on Sunday. Corpus Christi remains the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

  6. jaykay says:

    The Dublin Archdiocese ‘official TLM’ parish is offering a Low Mass tomorrow morning and a Solemn Mass in the evening, with next Sunday being observed as the External Solemnity when the procession will take place. Hoping to make it tomorrow morning.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    I’m curious what the larger context of the “external solemnity” practice might be. Are there written rules about when this may or may not be done?

    Yes, indeed, it’s all spelled out. From the 1962 Rubrics (in a common English translation):

    356. The “external solemnity” of any feast means the celebration of that feast without an Office, for the good of the faithful, on [its own] day on which the feast is impeded, or on a Sunday when the feast occurs during the week …..

    357. An external solemnity either belongs to a feast by right or is granted by special indult.

    358. An external solemnity belongs by right only to:

    (a) [Sacred Heart, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost]
    (b) [BVM of the Rosary, on the 1st Sunday of October]
    (c) …..
    (d) [feast if a principal patron]
    (e) [anniversary of the dedication of a church]
    (f) [the titular feast of the church itself]
    (g) [titular feast of an Order]
    (h) [feast of the founder of the order]
    (i) feasts of the 1st and 2nd classes which are celebrated with an especially large attendance by the faithful; of this matter the local ordinary is the judge.

    359. …..
    360. …..
    361. The external solemnities granted by special indult ….. before this date remain in force …..

    I understand that — entirely apart from the U.S. bishops transfer of the OF celebration of Corpus Christi to this coming Sunday — both 358(a) and 361 authorize the and EF external celebration of the Mass of Corpus Christi on this coming Sunday.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    wolfeken: We should encourage daily Mass!

    Sure. And so this year I will be doubly blessed, with an EF low Mass tomorrow (Thursday) and an EF high Mass as an external solemnity on Sunday.

    And perhaps, in lieu of the late lamented Octave of Corpus Christi, I will observe the next 3 days as a “Corpus Christi triduum” by reading the 229 pages that volume 10 of Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year devotes to the feast of Corpus Christi (as compared with 184 pages for Easter and 166 pages for Pentecost and their octaves).

    After all, from a purely liturgical viewpoint — aside from Christmas and Easter regarding salvation history — Corpus Christi might be (and, for me, is) the most significant feast of the year.

  9. Jack Hughes says:

    it was Corpus Christi last year that I began my short association with the SSPX, after having attended a wonderful Corpus Christi Triduem at the local chapel, since the E&WCBC have decided to move it, AGAIN!!! I am seriously pondering whether or not to sneak off for the next couple of days

  10. Transferring the Feast of Corpus Christi to a Sunday — albeit as an “external solemnity” — is not of the same order as transferring, say, the Feast of the Epiphany, as the latter is a Holyday of Obligation in the universal calendar, while the former is not. I imagine that Pope Leo granted the indult, with the knowledge that the faithful of a predominantly Protestant (even anti-Catholic) country, would not be able to avail themselves of the procession on a weekday, at least not through the neighborhood streets, whereas it might be possible in some localities on a Sunday.

    Were I a pastor in a small town here in America, I would do what I could to promote such a practice, such a wonderful witness for our Faith would it be. In some parts of the Midwest, for example, especially in the “German triangle” of parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, I might well be reviving an old practice.

    If only on a Sunday.

  11. Athanasius says:

    Actually that is not true, Corpus Christi is (or perhaps was) a Holy Day of Obligation in the traditional Mass, but not in the US. [We go by the Church’s present legislation concerning Holy Days of Obligation, as established for the universal Church and the local Churches.] However when you read many lives of the saints, such as St. Emyard, you find that in Europe as well Corpus Christi was moved to Sunday. It was actually a move by the Holy See to counter the evils sweeping across Europe from the industrial revolution, allowing the people to take part in the processions when the inhumane conditions of the market made it impossible.

  12. skellmeyer says:

    It should, perhaps, be noted that the plenary indulgence on the Feast of Corpus Christi is associated with devout recitation of the Tantum Ergo during the Eucharistic procession that is typically done on that day. This plenary indulgence is also available for the Tantum Ergo Eucharistic procession on Holy Thursday.

    Given that we are permitted to celebrate Corpus Christi on both the traditional Thursday and Sunday, it seems we have two opportunities for the plenary indulgence.

    If you are interested in keeping track of all the plenary indulgences available each year, Bridegroom Press (bridegroompress.com) produces wall and desk calendars which highlight indulgenced days. The 2011 calendars are just now being made available.

  13. wolfeken says:

    Athanasius is correct (sorry, David) — Corpus Christi (including the novus ordo merging of Corpus Christi and Most Precious Blood) is a holy day of obligation in the universal Church. Even in the new code of canon law, it is specified in Canon 1246.

  14. Concerning the status of Corpus Christi, I stand corrected, but I believe the good Father has already commented as well. In any case, I can see some considerations for Corpus Christi that might favor its transfer (whatever the status thereof) to a Sunday, given Athanasius’ information on it. There are situations where a transfer appeals to the potential laziness of the masses, and we have seen that in recent years, with Feasts like Epiphany and Ascension. This doesn’t strike me as one of them.

  15. Athanasius says:

    I’m personally of the opinion that we should have it on Thursday, the traditional day, but the Church’s practice has frequently put it on Sunday, so it is not an evil post-Vatican II thing. Frankly, a public procession anywhere in our culture with our Sacred Lord is a positive thing no matter the day.

    Benedicamus Domino!

  16. Athanasius says:

    [We go by the Church’s present legislation concerning Holy Days of Obligation, as established for the universal Church and the local Churches.]

    I was only making the point that it was part of the Church’s traditional practice and not a modernist invention. Obviously the current legislation holds.

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