QUAERITUR: Requiem on Sunday

From a reader:

Father, is it ever allowed in the Extraordinary Form that a Requiem
Mass be celebrated on a Sunday?

Perhaps for a private Mass.  If I, for example, were to learn of the death of a friend, I wouldn’t hesitate to say Mass as soon as I uncould, Sunday or not, for the sake of the deceased.  But there would not be a funeral on Sunday.  Nor would there be a Requiem on Sunday in the older form.

That said, I can think of a couple situations in which that might happen.

First, consider that when 2 November falls on a Sunday, in the older calendar the Mass for All Soul’s should be transferred to the next day.  With the Novus Ordo calendar, All Souls can, oddly, be observed for Masses on a Sunday. Otherwise, funerals and votive Masses for the dead should not be celebrated on Sundays.

However, I suppose if the diocesan bishop wanted to have all the Masses on 2 November be for All Souls, for both calendars, he could permit the use of the 1962 All Souls on a Sunday.   I also suppose that we could come up with some dire scenario in which, for pastoral reasons, the diocesan bishop would consider it opportune to permit a Requiem on a Sunday.  I struggle to imagine what that would be, however.  Most of the scenarios involve images of bodies stacked like cords of wood during time of plague, or praying for the dead inhabitants of a city that was nuked or slammed with an earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people pleading on their knees for forgiveness of the sins of their loved ones as smoke rises in columns from the shattered cathedral to obscure the red dying sun, sated crows no longer even to croak their ghastly calls in the cold mephitic air… the bishop so moved by the weeping of the children that… ummm… opps.  Okay, you get the idea.

This is one of those calendar conflicts between the traditional calendar and the post-Conciliar reformed calendar that should be worked out by Rome.   The tradition of prayer for the dead is so important that, in my opinion, people should be on the same page.  It makes sense to me that the traditional way of observing All Souls should be adopted in the newer calendar.  Sundays should be Sundays.  There are six other days for Requiem Masses.

On the other hand I can see the value of keeping both on the Sunday when 2 November is a Sunday.

For decades Catholics’ understanding of the need to pray for the dead, that it is a work of mercy to pray for the dead, has been eroded.  It has eroded under the constant din of hearing “for all” during the consecration in English, white vestments, funerals that are more like canonization ceremonies than moments of prayer for the soul of the deceased.   The realization that the Four Last Things are real has nearly vanished.

For this reason, I can see the sense in having All Souls on Sunday.   Exposing people to good preaching, black vestments, and even the somber prayers of the older form of Holy Mass could be very fruitful.

For the sake of repairing something of damage that has been done, I can see doing that.

In any event, for now it would be best to follow whichever Ordo is appropriate.



When you’ve had a tough day of crawling out of the wreckage of a shattered metropolitan center, torn with despair and wondering if the end has come at last, not knowing if you will ever experience happiness again, if anyone will ever feel joy again, try some….

… well… just have some coffee.

It’s still swell.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wolfeken says:

    And would a Credo be said/sung? [Why not?] Would the Sunday after Pentecost get a second collect, secret and postcommunion? [Why does the Sunday after Pentecost have to be the Sunday to do it?] Would flowers and organ be banned, on a Sunday? [They are during Lent.] Really, the Lord’s Day? [Mark 2:27]

    I hope the traditional calendar never bends on this — there is absolutely no excuse [?] for a black vestment Requiem Mass on a Sunday. The only odd exception, quite possibly in the history of the church, was once a year in England. [That’s an excuse.]

    It would be confusing at best — to be mourning and feasting at the same time. It makes perfect sense to just wait until Monday, as has always been tradition.

  2. Joshua08 says:

    Actually “black vestment” Masses in the Church have been done on Sunday. Remember violet came as a substitute for black, and wearing black during Lent and Advent is not unheard of in Catholic liturgy tradition to say the least (until the 17th century dominicans were free to choose either black or violet interchangeably)

    Here are the relevant laws in the 1962 Missale by the way.

    391. In Masses of the dead no commemoration is made of the office of the current day.

    393. Any Mass of the dead whatsoever, including the funeral Mass, is prohibited:
    a) in churches and oratories where for any reason there is exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, for the whole time of the exposition; the Masses on the day of the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed are excepted (no. 352);
    b) in churches having only one Mass, whenever there is an obligation of a conventual Mass which cannot be satisfied by another priest; unless the conventual Mass itself must be said or may be said for the departed;
    c) in churches having only one Mass, on February 2 and on Ash Wednesday, if there is the blessing of candles and of ashes respectively; and on the greater and lesser litanies, if the Mass of the rogation is to be said.

    402. First class Masses of the Dead are:
    a) Masses of the day of the commemoration of all the faithful departed;
    b) The funeral Mass.

    406. The funeral Mass is prohibited:
    a) on the days listed under nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the table of precedence;
    b) on holy days of obligation included among the feasts under no. 11 in the table of precedence;
    c) on the anniversary of the dedication and on the titular feast of the church in which the funeral is held;
    d) on the feast of a principal patron of a town or city;
    e) on the titular feast and the feast of the holy founder of the order or congregation to whom the church belongs in which the funeral is held.

    407. If the office of any feast specified in no. 406 is to be accidentally transferred to another day according to the rubrics, the funeral Mass is prohibited on the day on which the feast is impeded; but if the external solemnity of any feast is held on Sunday, the funeral Mass is prohibited on the day on which the external solemnity is held, but not on the feast day.

    BTW the table of precedence (no. 11 is 1st class feasts of the Universal Church, and as mentioned above must be HdO’s to exclude a funeral Mass)
    1. Christmas day, Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday (1st class with octave).
    2. The sacred triduum.
    3. The feasts of the Epiphany and the Ascension of our Lord, of the Most Holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, of the Heart of Jesus and of Christ the King.
    4. The feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 5. The vigil and the octave day of Christmas.
    6. The Sundays of Advent, Lent and Passiontide, and Low Sunday.

    Note then that a funeral Mass can indeed be celebrated on any 2nd class Sunday All Souls is governed by a special rubric. All Souls outranks the Sunday but does not take precedent even over 2nd class.

    So short answer

    A funeral Mass, whether Sung or low, is allowed on Sundays of the 2nd Cl. The Dies Irae must be sung/read, the Absolution must take place (after all the body is there!) and there is no commemoration of the Sunday and no flowers, etc. No other requiem Mass, whether sung or low, whether “public” or “private” (Missa privata is low Mass, but that term was abolished by De musica sacra) can be said on Sunday. At least according to the 1962 rubrics

    The pre 1962 rubrics are rather more complicated on this, and apparently even more complicated America had special permission to do anniversary Masses of the Dead on Mondays regardless of the feast (except a few really high feasts)

  3. off2 says:

    I have a vague recollection that the American Bishops allowed a Sunday requiem when we buried the late president, J F Kennedy.

  4. frdgss says:

    Here’s the entry for November 14 (Remembrance Sunday) from the British Military Ordinariate’s Ordo: “In service chapels, Mass for the fallen may be celebrated”.
    In practice, we use the readings of the current Sunday with the Mass Propers for the dead and black/purple vestments.

  5. ruadhri says:

    Just an observation, and not to do with Requiem Masses. On Sunday, November 17, the day of the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop (et alii), parishes in our area of Australia used readings and prayers of some relevance to the new saint – not the Mass of the Sunday – even though the canonisation did not begin until 7pm. The canonisation Mass at St Peter’s was, of course, the Mass of the Sunday. I have not heard of Australian bishops authorising the change, if they have the authority to do so. But then, this is Australia. . .

  6. ruadhri says:

    That should be October 17.

  7. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    In England it’s still rather common to celebrate a requiem mass in the traditional form on Remembrance Sunday. The Latin Mass Society have arranged at least four this year: http://www.latin-mass-society.org/supplement.pdf

  8. vernonq says:

    As some others have said, the general law in England and Wales allows ONE Requiem Mass (said or sung) in any church for the dead of the two World Wars to be celebrated on Remembrance Sunday (the Sunday nearest 11th November).

    This was permitted many years ago, prior to the 1962 Missal, and never rescinded. Therefore in England and Wales it is normal practice to celebrate this Requiem Mass in either OF or EF as the Celebrant chooses. This can be done even if there is only one Mass on/for that Sunday.

  9. ikseret says:

    Before St. Pius X’s reform of the calendar, weren’t Requiem’s allowed on Sunday?
    I’m guessing because I believe that until that time even saints on the sanctoral cycle often trumped the Sunday.

    Meanwhile, right after John Paul II died, the Mass was that of Sunday. However, I was startled when Cardinal Mahoney of all people added a second (requiem) collect to the Sunday Mass for the respose of the pope’s soul.

  10. Microtouch says:

    On All Souls Day November 2nd Our Latin Mass Mission in Lancaster Pa. will be offering a Requiem Mass (in Latin obviously) for all souls with the Absolution for the Dead. We’re also going to offer the Total Consecration to our Lady according to the model of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort and today we will have the Blessing and Investures of the Scapulars. We are truly blessed here to have a such a young priest so interested in bringing back the traditional Blessings that Holy Mother Church has to offer her faithful. Many thanks and Blessings to St. Anthony of Padua church who allow us to use their church and facilities for our weekly Mass.

  11. Pelicanus says:

    Am I right in saying there is an indulte (at least in the UK) for a Requiem on Remembrance Sunday?

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