QUAERITUR: simultaneous Masses v concelebration

From a reader:

Canon 902 states that “Unless the welfare of the Christian faithful
requires or suggests otherwise, priests can concelebrate the Eucharist. They are completely free to celebrate the Eucharist individually, however, but not while a concelebration is taking place in the same church or oratory.”

So how is this to apply in Traditional Simultaneous Masses?

Simultaneous Masses (EF or OF) seem to be licit under can. 902, as long as one of the simultaneous Masses is not being concelebrated.

Since concelebration is pretty unlikely in the Extraordinary Form, let a hundred simultaneous TLMs blossom! Let a hundred priests discourse over Mystic Monk Coffee afterwards!  (Fathers, refresh your coffee supply now!)

I’m not sure how this “no simultaneous Mass where there is a concelebration” is squared with the common practice in, particularly, St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome.  In St. Peter’s and other pilgrimage places, individual priests are celebrate Mass at one altar simultaneously as another Mass is being concelebrated at the next altar over. There may be some sort of a dispensation or particular law governing St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major, etc.. Otherwise, those in charge are just bowing to the obvious and ignoring a silly canon.

What I strongly object to is any pressure on priests to concelebrate or any fisheye if they choose not to.  Sometimes even priests who should know better get obnoxious about this point.

Concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.

Let there be Masses!  Masses, I say, many and simultaneous!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    That’s such a brilliant photograph…

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Fountains Abbey, in ruins, and the existing Durham Cathedral had nine altars in side chapels for simultaneous use. The Brompton Oratory has multiple side altars, as do all of the large, 17the century Baroque churches in Valletta. These altars were used on special occasions, such as guild Masses, but also for the monks or canons of the various orders to celebrate at the same time. I would love to see such, but unless one is in a monastery, like Norcia above, the priest shortage demands, I suppose, staggered Masses. One can imagine, however, what this would have been like, especially in the huge, Medieval Abbeys of Europe. I have only seen this happen once, a long time ago, at the Brompton Oratory, where there were two overlapping Masses in two of the side chapels. I think one was a Memorial Requiem, not sung, while the other was the daily Mass I attended there. Happy days.

  3. Random Friar says:

    In that picture, there is no one besides the priests and servers, so I do not think this would fall contrary to the letter or spirit of the canon.

    At St. Peter’s, the demand for a personal celebration is so great, and at the same time, having so many foreign concelebrants who are not familiar with St. Peter’s would cause such chaos, that I can imagine a perpetual dispensation there. At the local parish, not so much, unless it were a major shrine or pilgrimage point.

  4. jbas says:

    Agreed. It makes sense not to celebrate individually while Mass is concelebrated at the high altar. Otherwise, what does it hurt?

  5. leonugent2005 says:

    The orthodox church would have a problem with this and claim that this is a recent innovation, recent as in the last 500 or 600 years. So whether you think this is a good idea or not depends on your attitude to putting up stumbling blocks to reunion of the eastern and western church.
    To me this is the heart of the whole traditionalism debate, our stance with respect to the eastern church. Before Vatican 2 those schhizmatic heretics needed to get in line, after vatican 2 we became limp wristed and started to say things like maybe some of this was our fault. Who knows maybe this more manly chest beating church is the best one. I don’t have all the answers.

  6. Dax says:

    Are there even rubrics for the concelebration of a NO Mass? I heard there is not.

    Two Masses being celebrated at the same time in the same church. How on earth would we ever get a protestant to understand this?


  7. chonak says:

    NB: So-called “synchronized” Masses were forbidden by SCR in 1958 (“De musica sacra et sacra liturgia”), although the idea sounds intriguing.

  8. Dax says:

    chonak says:
    29 December 2011 at 2:13 pm

    NB: So-called “synchronized” Masses were forbidden by SCR in 1958 (“De musica sacra et sacra liturgia”), although the idea sounds intriguing.

    I think the intention here, regards “synchronized” Masses, is to prevent some kind of liturgical theatrics.

    39. So-called “synchronized” Masses, are, however, forbidden. These are Masses in which two or more priests simultaneously, on one or more altars, so time their celebration of Mass that all their words, and actions are pronounced, and performed together at one and the same time, even with the aid of modern instruments to assure absolute uniformity or “synchronization”, particularly if many priests are celebrating.

  9. leonugent2005 says:

    While thinking about it, it occurred to me the the ancient practice of the orthodox church and therefore most likely the ancient practice of the church [So what?] is for the divine Liturgy of st John Chrysostom to be concelebrated. And by the way is there any speculation how much purgatory time is involved for grinning slyly when you call the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass a NO Mass?

  10. Supertradmum says:


    Multiple altars for simultaneous use go back at least to the 12th century in England and the famous Chapel of Nine Altars at Durham is mid-13th century. I do not understand how the needs of the monks would interfere with unification. As concelebration fell in to disuse in the West, the simultaneous architecture become more common, even at what I would call early dates. I would be interested in details on the cenobitic lives of the Orthodox monks, as I would think that even very early Valaam, for example, would have had many altars for the use of the cenobites. I wonder what the monastery of Pachomius provided for Divine Liturgy, for example? And, going back to the West, I would guess, although I have never been there, that St. Gall’s founded in the 8th Century had multiple altars for simultaneous use. Some same St. Gall’s dates as early as 720.

  11. Father K says:

    I think canon 902 might mean that while a public, scheduled Mass is being celebrated, most probably at the main altar and is a concelebrated Mass a priest may not celebrate at a side altar in the church at the same time this Mass is taking place. For example, the Diocesan Bishop is concelebrating with a number of the presbyterate at the main altar of his cathedral. It would not seem appropriate for a lone priest to be celebrating alone at the same time at a side altar, in full view of the congregation.

    However, I remember in my seminary years that while the daily community Mass was usually concelebrated, it was not unusual for two or three other priests to be celebrating ‘private Masses’ in small individual chapels in the crypt of the seminary chapel. Vestments would be set up for priests who wanted to celebrate individually in the downstairs sacristy the night before, after Compline.

  12. leonugent2005 says:

    Supertradmum I have studied the orthodox church and know a little about them. if you go around whipping out the 12th century on them they won’t eve talk to you

  13. Supertradmum says:


    Good, if you studied, can you answer my questions about the Orthodox cenobite churches and the structures dating back to Pachomius? Would cenobites concelebrate? I ask valid questions.

  14. tealady24 says:

    In all my 60 yrs I’ve never seen a picture like that! I like. Yes, masses al’round!

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Father K,

    And I am sure the Oratorians (see above) would not make a mistake concerning liturgical order. Thanks for the input.

  16. Han says:


    The multiplicity of altars in a single building is unknown to Orthodoxy. Moreover, the one altar in the church building is not to be used for Divine Liturgy more than once per day. As for Orthodox monasticism, few monks are ordained–just enough to minister to the monastic community. Usually, the abbot will be a priest, but not necessarily.

    The principle behind this is that ordination to the diaconate or presbyterate is done for the purpose of providing the sacraments to a community. This is also why we have married secular priests–some may be called to be an eschatological witness via monasticism, some may be call to stand in the altar to administer the sacraments, and some may be called to both, but monasticism and priesthood are independent of each other.

    As far as Orthodox concelebration goes, it is not uncommon, but it is largely limited by the physical size of the altar and/or the Holy Table. For a priest who happens to attend a Divine Liturgy that he is not concelebrating, he will help out with the choir or just stand with the laity, but will go into the altar to receive Communion at his own hands. There is no expectation that every priest is to celebrate his “own” Divine Liturgy every day. Indeed, Liturgy may not be celebrated without at least a cantor and one other person to make up the congregation.

  17. Supertradmum says:


    Thank you. I had forgotten about the tradition wherein most of the cenobites would probably not be priests. I think I shall, when I have time, do more on study on this, as it is really interesting. However, I would hope that you would not consider these differences in worship obstacles in Union.
    As there are many rites, could we not accept these traditional differences?

  18. In June 2007, I was in St. Louis to attend Ab. Burke’s traditional ordination of two new ICK priests in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The next morning I arrived at St. Francis de Sales Oratory about an hour early for one of their first solemn high Masses, intending to say Lauds beforehand. I was surprised to find 5 silent low Masses in progress — the oratory there has 3 side altars on each side of the high altar — each celebrated by a visiting ICK priest with a single altar boy. They had started at slightly different times, so I was able to adore Our Lord at three separate double elevations within 10 minutes.

    This was such a powerful experience that I recalled a statement attributed to Cardinal Ratzinger. Visiting Solesmes, he had similarly observed about a dozen simultaneous low Masses celebrated much as in the picture above. “Now that”, he allegedly said, “is the real Catholic Church.”

  19. Random Friar says:

    I do not believe it to be a fairly new phenomenon:
    From the old Catholic Encyclopedia:

    Concelebration is the rite by which several priests say Mass together, all consecrating the same bread and wine. It was once common in both East and West… Concelebration is still common in all the Eastern Churches both Catholic and schismatic. In these, on any greater feast day, the bishop says the holy liturgy surrounded by his priests, who consecrate with him and receive Holy Communion from him, of course under both kinds. So also, at any time, if several priests wish to celebrate on the same day, they may do so together.

    And, it references the Summa as well: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4082.htm#article2

    I am not opposed to concelebration, in theory, but in practice, it leaves much to be desired in many circumstances.

  20. Father K says:


    As far as I know, the Oratorians at Brompton Oratory do not concelebrate Mass [or at least, rarely]- the canon does not allow private Masses at the same time as concelebrated Masses in the same church. So what would have been happening there would have been outside the scope of this particular canon.

  21. Supertradmum says:

    Henry Edwards,

    There was never a concelebration when I went there, as it was my parish for several years. What I meant that there were two Masses on the side altars in the morning, a daily Mass being said at that time in one of the side altars. But, there are many daily Masses. I am sorry if what I wrote seemed like I was saying there was a concelebration. Not so, just two side altar Masses at the same time.

  22. mibethda says:

    As you seem to suggest, the manuscript known as the plan of St Gall does show what are generally regarded as four side altars spaced along each of the two side aisles as well as what appear to be five small side chapels with altars on the north side, just outside of the northern side aisle. The manuscript is usually dated to c. 820-830, and is a tracing of what may have been the plan utilized by Abbot Gozbert in the construction of the new church shortly after his arrival in 816. So yes, it does provide some support for the contention that, at least as to monastic churches, the Western Church saw the contemporaneous celebration of Masses well before the 11th century schism. The University of California Press published a very fine study of the Plan and its history back in 1982 which shows these facets quite clearly.
    Incidently, the use of side altars for the contemporaneous celebration of Masses at Benedictine monasteries prior to the liturgical changes of the 1960’s was the general practice in this country. I also recall the parish where I attended parochial school in the 50’s maintained a side chapel with five closely placed altars for use by visiting priests – of whom we always saw quite a few in South Florida at the time, and all of whom were still obligated to the daily offering of the Mass. At times, all five altars would be occupied simultaneously and those of us assigned to serving the regular morning Masses were often collared to serve one or more of the visitors’ Masses as soon as we returned to the sacristy (on more than one occasion I recall having to serve two at the same time – not an easy task, but I believe that they had some fear that without a server -even though there were other priests and servers in the chapel – it might be regarded, correctly or not, as a private Mass.

  23. Supertradmum says:


    Very interesting. Thank you.

  24. leonugent2005 says:

    Supertradmum, Han gave you a far better answer than I ever could. The Orthodox are constantly after me to switch church’s. I constantly have to remind myself that both church’s are messed up in their own ways just like the pre vatican 2 folks and the post vatican 2 folks are messed up in their own way, and just like I’m messed up in my own way. God be mercifully to me a sinner

  25. Blaise says:

    Thomas Merton has a wonderful description in Seven Storey Mountain of monks all going out to say their masses in the various side altars of the Church.
    The size of St Peter’s probably makes the experience very different from most churches, even the larger ones; if you are hearing mass at one side altar you are unlikely to notice mass going on at other side altars unless they are either very noisy and/or right next door.
    I remember hearing that it was forbidden in the Novus Ordo for two masses to be celebrated in the same building at the same time. I am grateful to Fr Z for the canonical reference that this relates only to the instance when one mass is “concelebrated.”

    In England apart from in the presence of the bishop or for Christmas Midnight Mass, the Easter Vigil, Mass of Maundy Thursday, there is no excuse for most priests to be concelebrating given the number of priests running around trying to say mass in many different churches of a Sunday or at least several in the same church.

  26. ProfKwasniewski says:

    For those who are interested in the theology of private celebrations of Mass vs. concelebration, see this article:


  27. Supertradmum says:


    Great article and as I love Robert Hugh Benson’s The King’s Achievement, as well as his other numerous novels, I was pleased to see the quotation on the Masses.

  28. Michael_Thoma says:

    Which Orthodox are you referring to? Some love simultaneous and concelebration. The Syriacs and Indians also have three altars in every Church, as do the Syro-Malankara Catholics.

    See here –

    The Syriac Orthodox – 101 Simultaneous Holy Mass w/ Patriarch Ignatius as Main Celebrant:

    The Malankara Orthodox Tri-Mass:

    Of course the Malankara Catholics also have this in their Tradition, but haven’t had one lately in imitation of their Latin counterparts, one supposes.

  29. pjsandstrom says:

    Each priest monk among the monks of Fontgombault in France celebrates Mass on one of the numerous altars scattered around their Abbey Church each day. So aside from the common conventual Mass (which all or most attend and chant etc) there are multiple Masses at roughly the same time in the morning. They by choice also use the Extraordinary Form for their Masses and the Divine Office.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    Father K,

    Sorry, I addressed an answer to a different person, but I did not mean to cause confusion. See note to Henry Edwards. Thanks.

  31. TC says:

    This may be a unique approach to simultaneous Masses. The Shrine of Or Lady of Martyrs (Auriesville, NY) is built with four altars in the center. Sadly, attendance is no longer what it once was and only one altar is used now.


  32. Joe in Canada says:

    It’s not clear to me that the way the Orthodox do things today is a) the same as St Andrew did it when he visited Byzantium or b) older in any significant way than the way the Romans did it.
    b) the way around “not more than one DL perb Table per day” is by using different Antemensions, the cloth that corresponds in a sense to the western Corporal but has a relic of St Andrew sewn into it and is signed b y the “authorizing” Hierarch. At least that’s how the Greeks and Antiochians in Canada do it – they’re the ones with big enough parishes .
    3) Is it tue that in reality “most” monks are not priests? It’s hard sometimes to figure out at what “level” Orthodox apologists, especially of the Russian tradition, are talking, as sometimes they seem to switch back and forth between some theoretical Garden of Eden “pre-Western captivity” and the reality as convenient. The dedication of married Orthodox Priests who celebrate in the Altar at 5 a.m. on (say) Aug 6 with Matushka leading the singing and Pyotr Junior serving when no one else in the Parish has shown up is edifying and brings unknown graces to the whole Church. I’m not sure any of them would see his priestly ministry at the Table as less eschatological than that of a monastic.

  33. servusmariaen says:

    I know the order Servi Jesu et Mariae in Austria do NOT concelebrate. They use both the Vetus Ordo and Novus Ordo. I wonder whether there are other communities (other than then excelusively traditionalist ones) who do not concelebrate normally?

  34. robtbrown says:

    onugent2005 says:

    Supertradmum I have studied the orthodox church and know a little about them. if you go around whipping out the 12th century on them they won’t eve talk to you

    Unless of course the name of 14th cent theologian Gregory Palamas is mentioned. Then their hearts begin to flutter, and their eyes grow misty.

  35. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Norcia brought back a wonderful memory of our FSSP pilgrimage in 2008. Our several accompanying priests said Mass simultaneously, quietly, each with a server, at those altars in the Benedictines’ beautiful monastery as the rest of the pilgrims heard Mass said at the main altar. It was not concelebration. It was not synchronized. It was fulfilling their obligation to say Mass at the only time and place available before getting on a bus. It was inspirational.

  36. Han says:


    “Orthodox” with the capital “O,” especially in the context of responding to Supertradmum’s post which mentioned Valaam, is not ambiguous. The communion which you have mentioned is commonly called “Orthodox” only with the qualifying adjective “Oriental” in front–an anachronism in use today because the word “Monophysite” is no longer politically correct. Notwithstanding the significant progress that has been made in ecumenical dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox, there still remains no official intercommunion and no true reunion. There seems to me to be no utility in trying to confuse Orthodoxy with the Oriental Orthodox since there is no true intercommunion.

    Besides, I am not sure that the videos you have linked actually support the theory that the Jacobites and their progeny actually have simultaneous Masses in the traditional Latin sense. From these videos, it appears that there is a single unified liturgical action with a bunch of separate consecrations; in other words, it looks to me like what we have here is concelebration. In contrast, the photo accompanying the original post shows four separate and independent Masses and no unified liturgical action, wherein any Occurrence of Mass part is a result of temporal accident, not of design. I think that there is a different principle at work here. For the Catholics, the daily individual celebration of Mass is both an obligation and a right held by each priest. With the clericization of monastics in the 12th Century, simultaneous Masses arose to satisfy this point of Canon Law (because a sequential celebration of individual Masses would result in the inability to pray the Office). Have you found any videos or heard any report of one of these Jacobite Trimasses being celebrated without a Bishop? I could not find any. I therefore think that there may be an additive impulse at work here similar to that which underlies the Latin idea that each priest should get his own Mass daily, but yet it is justified by a different theology of priesthood. It doesn’t seem that these priests are celebrating their own Mass as a matter of obligation and right, but rather that what they are doing is supporting the Bishop’s Mass; therefore, what we seem to have here is not simultaneous Masses, but concelebration.

  37. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Leonugent2005 said, “So whether you think this is a good idea or not depends on your attitude to putting up stumbling blocks to reunion of the eastern and western church.”

    Yep. Because the Orthodox are all about wanting us to abandon the canons our ancient churches inherited from their regional synods and adopt a confabulation invented in 1983. Only if we do that, will they deign to communicate with our churches.

    Han said, “As for Orthodox monasticism, few monks are ordained–just enough to minister to the monastic community.”

    So I watched Sixty Minutes (the American TV show) last Sunday, and they had a lovely special on Mount Athos. According to them, Mount Athos has 1000 Divine Liturgies every day for the 2000 monks dwelling on the peninsula. I’m not saying that they have multiple masses going on under the same nave like we have here in the West, but it’s obvious to me that the difference between East and West in this case has more to do with church size and architecture than with the spirit of the liturgy.

  38. Centristian says:

    There is no celebration of Mass at the principal altar, at all, in the picture featured. If there was a Mass being celebrated there, with a congregation for it, Mass should not be celebrated at the side altars during it; that would almost seem to go without saying. But as far as what is actually happening in the photo shown, I can’t see anything but a very beautiful sight.

  39. New Sister says:

    I am too unlearned to contribute to this discussion, but am instinctively breath-taken by the photograph! Four priests offering holy Mass at the same time? It’s *so* beautiful! The chasubles – the altars –how mysteriously quiet it must be, save the bells and soft voices of the priests & servers. I’m not sure what I would do if there… probably stay about where the camera is in the nave, on my knees, in awe.

  40. I just wanted to say how much I am struck by the beauty in the image of simultaneous Masses. Here is another one, this one from a seminary: http://catechismclass.com/high-school

  41. kat says:

    We have two side altars at our church; and often, since we have 3 and soon to be 4 priests in residence, there will be at least one if not two private Masses going on while the main altar has the main community Mass. It’s actually quite wonderful to see.

  42. Centristian says:


    What on earth kind of parish are you blessed with (and on what planet) that the rest of us can only dream about? Holy cow.

  43. Precentrix says:


    There’s no actual obligation for a Latin priest to celebrate daily, if I recall correctly (hopefully one of the priests will correct this if I’m wrong), but only on Sundays and days of precept. There is, however, an obligation to the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours.

    I’ll have to watch the videos properly – I would suspect, however, that the second (with the bishop) is probably concelebration. The bishop factor is quite a strong hint – and remeniscent of ordination Masses in the TLM.

  44. dominic1955 says:

    It would seem that if there are separate consecrations, then it is much more akin to a simultaneous Masses than concelebration in the NO sense. In the NO, there are a number of priests/bishops with one consecration. That said, “concelebration” can mean different things. An Eastern Catholic deacon told me he “concelebrates” the DL, but what he meant by it was that he takes part in it in his role as deacon-in the same way a deacon and subdeacon would in a Solemn High. They also speak of it in the sense we would think of priests sitting in choir, but the Easterners (Catholic and Orthodox) do not have a choir dress like Westerners. Then, on top of that, they have multiple priests actually saying one Mass, as we would usually understand concelebration.

    Secondly, as far as ecumenical concerns go, the Orthodox should be able to respect our customs like we respect the customs of the Eastern Catholics (officially, at least). There had been problems in the past, but there was never any official “Latinizing” rulings from Rome.

    Lastly, the Roman theology on this makes the most sense-the more Masses the better within reason.

  45. Father K says:


    Priests are encouraged to celebrate daily but you are right, there is no obligation. Parish priests [pastors] are obliged to offer Mass ‘pro populo’ on Sundays and holy days of obligation. Strictly, there is no obligation for priests to offer Mass even on Sundays. A priest may simply attend Mass.

    Interestingly in Australia, and no doubt in other places, concelebration [except for funerals and the like] is seen to be a preference of the so-called ‘conservative’ priests. Many of the aging 60s and 70s priests now eschew concelebration, because it is ‘divisive’ and ‘exclusive,’ i.e. it appears to be an exhibition of clericalism and excludes the laity, especially women. I know of one religious profession of a Sister a few years ago which was held in a friend’s church. He was told in no uncertain terms by the ‘congregational leader’ [aka ‘superior’] that he was not to invite priests to concelebrate. [ I am not making this up]. In recent times a visiting priest turns up for Mass when he is spending a few days with his family: he always sits in the congregation and when I invited him to concelebrate, I got a very curt reply that he prefers to ‘identify with the laity!’

    At present, because I am studying in a foreign country I simply have no opportunity to say Mass during the week except all by myself in a tiny oratory in the basement of the residence where I live. It is either that or not say Mass at all [which is the preferred option of not a few fellow students]. I would love to have the opportunity to concelebrate my daily Mass. For all these reasons I find a certain aversion to concelebration a little hard to understand. There are sound theological, ecclesialogical and liturgical reasons to support concelebration while not denying the practice of a priest celebrating without the people.

  46. St. Epaphras says:

    Yes! There is something intensely Catholic about this photo. It seems to say: “This is Holy Mass. It needs nothing (i.e. a congregation, which is required for a protestant group to ‘have church’); it is supremely powerful and efficacious by itself; it is NOT about ‘us’ but about God; and those guys in the chasubles are PRIESTS.”

    It doesn’t get any more Catholic. More Masses = more graces, more holiness and more knockout punches on the enemy and his army of demons.

  47. dominic1955 says:


    However, considering what Professor K posted, why would concelebration be anything other than what Fr. Z has posted about it being “safe, legal, and rare”?

    It seems to me that other than like it is in the TLM priestly Ordination, it would be preferable when multiple priests are together to have private Masses along with a conventual Solemn High Mass if desirable. That, and/or have them actually sit in choir.

    Less Masses, less re-presentations of Christ’s Sacrifice. Plus, from an aesthetic point of view, compare a Solemn High Pontifical in which numerous priests are present to a Pontifical Mass these days in which numerous priests are present. The traditional rite is so much more well ordered and beautiful, plus, add to that the fact that all those priests present probably celebrated (or will celebrate) their own Mass. So, the Church gets more Masses plus a Mass which showcases the highest liturgical expression of the Roman Rite.

    In a big concelebrated Mass, we still have only one Mass being said (so its a wash w/ the Solemn Pontifical) but there may or may not have been other Masses said by the concelebrating priests. Presumably they celebrated Mass for their parishes (as would often be the case for secular clergy), but then they are binating for no discernable pastoral reason other than concelebration has become the new sitting in choir. Then, it just looks all kinds of sloppy when priests in various degrees of vestedness come waltzing into the sanctuary to stick their hands out and say a few words. Sometimes, at least in the States, they try to make the celebrants look uniform by issuing a “diocesan chasuble” which, at least in the examples I’ve seen, are uniformly blah polyester ponchos.

    To me it seems the choice is obvious, stick to what we’ve been doing in the West for centuries.

  48. Father K says:


    The issues raised in that article were answered fifty years ago. Every priest who concelebrates at Mass may receive a stipend and offer the Mass for that intention. At ordinations in the EF, each newly ordained priest concelebrating with the ordaining bishop has always been able to accept a stipend and offer that Mass for the intention of the donor.

  49. Michael_Thoma says:


    The “tri”Mass (Three celebrating priests on three altars) is used on solemn feasts and occasions, with or without a Bishop:

    It’s different than “concelebration” in the ‘Latin’ sense:


    As to the term “Orthodox”, the Byzantines (Eastern) do not have monopoly on it – what makes them any more than the Orthodox than the Orientals (Eastern). In fact, one could argue that the Malankara Catholics and other Catholic Easterners could use the term legitimately (e.g. Russian Catholics are known in Russia as, ‘Russian Orthodox in communion with Rome’)


  50. robtbrown says:

    Father K says,.

    There are sound theological, ecclesialogical and liturgical reasons to support concelebration while not denying the practice of a priest celebrating without the people.

    Are you saying that you don’t think the salvific benefits of the mass should be multiplied?

  51. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Here’s a wrinkle I haven’t seen discussed here – yet:

    Which is preferable: one solemn high Mass or 3 low Masses? (Yes, I realize that this is distinct from the question of concelebration.)

    From a more legalistic standpoint, if the chief celebrant intentionally changes the words of Consecration,” this is a reminder of my body”, but one of the army of concelebrants uses the proper form, is the Mass itself valid or not? We know that if a validly consecrated Catholic bishop attempts to ordain a woman as a Catholic priest, the proper form fails because the matter is wrong. We further know that a sacrament can not be partly valid, so can one of the concelebrating priests make valid a Mass which would, to all appearances, not be otherwise?

  52. dominic1955 says:

    Stipends aren’t the issue. One concelebrated Mass may have multiple intentions and each priest can accept a stipend for it. The issue is that this concelebrated Mass is still one Mass-just with multiple intentions.

    To use an analogy, it is like if multiple chefs all help to make a cake, one cake is made but you can say that Chefs A, B, and C made a cake even though only one cake is the result of their efforts. If Chef A, B, and C each make their own cake, then there are three cakes and you can say that Chefs A, B, and C made a cake but this time it means that each one of them made a distinct cake and so three instead of one exists.

    As such, according to the theology enshrined by the Council of Trent and by long standing practice, it only makes sense that it should be the norm to have each priest say his own Mass even if it is possible and allowable at some times for multiple priests to say the same Mass.

    As to other factors, I’ve heard laymen (of which I am one) say of concelebrated Masses that they are powerful for them because they see so many priests along with the bishop (that is usually the context one sees such a Mass). However, they do not understand the real nature of the priesthood and the Mass. What they are oohing and awwing about is the sheer number of priests in one spot when normally they only see their own priest alone and they know we have a priest shortage.

    Really, what are these sound theological, ecclesiological and liturgical reasons for concelebration? I can think of reasons in all these categories as to why it is valid and licit, but I can think of none to actually perpetuate the practice in anything but exceptional cases or where the tradition has been maintained in unbroken succession (the East).

  53. kat says:

    When one of our priests was asked by a student once, “Does the priest have to say Mass every day?”, Father’s answer was, “We are not obliged, but who wouldn’t want to?”

  54. Han says:

    I do not want this thread to degenerate into the defensive mudslinging so characteristic of internet ecumenism, but I do want to make a few observations:

    First, to Precentrix, I thought that it was both an obligation and a right–not just a right. I was mistaken.

    Second, to those who have made snarky asides about Orthodox suspicion of Catholics, I will just suggest that bringing up the Uniates as an example only confirms all our suspicions. However, more usefully, liturgical differences are far less an obstacle to some future reunion than the profound theological differences between our Churches. Simply trying to paper over them or allow contradiction to exist in communion will result in destroying both Churches much as the inherent problems of broad church Anglicanism are becoming apparent today.

    Supertradmum’s insight that these liturgical differences, however, could be an obstacle to reunion is quite good because religion is not philosophy–it is life. To the extent that liturgical differences reflect different sacramental theologies, a different liturgical ethos might very well indicate that we understand how we relate to God in very different ways, which would meant that even with “agreed statements” on Christology or Trinitrain theology or what not , we may not in truth hold the same fatih.

    It is interesting for me to read the comments that some have posted about how beautifully Catholic they find the notion of simultenous Masses. Indeed it is a very Catholic thing, but frankly I find it a bit odd. What is the value of muiltiplying Masses–especially if there is no immediate community for the celebrant to administer the sacrament? Either the liturgy has been privatized, which makes me wonder in what sense it is liturgical, or there is some additive principle at work wherein the Mass is primarily something the believer, or more specifically, the cleric, does for God and only secondarily something that God does for the Church (N.B. this is somewhat different from the idea of a daily Mass celebrated at a parish church so that parishioners may receive the sacrament daily). It is not my goal to try to convince anyone here that these are bad things, only to point out how different they are from Orthodox sacramental theology.

    For us, Divine Liturgy presumes the existence of a celebrating community–hence the requirement for a priest, a cantor and at least one other person. God makes real and renews our incorporation into His Church through the reception of Communion, and because both “church” and “communion” imply a relationship with other people, one cannot privatize Liturgy. In the Liturgy, we interact with each other, and we interact with God as a community. Without this communal aspect of it, all that is left is private prayer, which is by definition not liturgy. Note also that, without denying that we glorify God in Divine Liturgy, Divine Liturgy, like all sacraments, is something that God does for us. Then, in response to God, we pray the Office. I think what we have, therefore, is a difference in religious culture. Maybe this is an obstacle to union, maybe it is not, but the difference is real, substantial, and ought not be ignored in a rush to embrace.

  55. robtbrown says:

    Father K says,

    The issues raised in that article were answered fifty years ago. Every priest who concelebrates at Mass may receive a stipend and offer the Mass for that intention. At ordinations in the EF, each newly ordained priest concelebrating with the ordaining bishop has always been able to accept a stipend and offer that Mass for the intention of the donor.

    You’re about 25% right.

    It is true that canon law speaks of stipends relevant to the intention of a priest at mass. That, however, is a subjective consideration.

    The comparison of the salvific benefits of one concelebration with many priests vs many masses must be considered objectively. There are two aspects to such a consideration:

    1. The Mass considered in itself: The benefits of the Sacramental Sacrifice are infinite because of the Hypostatic Union.

    2. The benefits of the Sacramental Sacrifice are limited by being applied to certain people in a certain time and place. Quidquid recipitur in modo recipientis recipitur. Thus it needs to be multiplied as much as possible.

  56. Precentrix says:


    I join you in detesting mudslinging as a form of oecumenism. Bun fights, however, may prove acceptable.

    May I suggest that one reason why we find ‘private’ Masses such a beautiful expression of the Church is precisely *because* the Liturgy is a public act of the whole Church (including those who have gone ahead of us and those yet to be born)? When Father celebrates the Eucharist, the whole Church is present. Likewise, when he prays the Divine Office (the Hours), he is acting as the voice of the Church. The way I understand it, both the Orthodox requirement for the presence of the cantor and one other, and the Latin-Catholic allowance of ‘private’ Masses, are expressions of the same theological idea – the Communion of Saints.

    The other aspect is that, perhaps, we Latins often think of the Liturgy in connection with the virtue of religion – our duty to worship God. We talk about things like ‘Sunday obligation’, whereas the Eucharist is, of course, a great gift to us – and our response to the wedding invitation should be a joyous one! Maybe that has more to do with the Latin, legalistic mindset more than any real theological consideration?


    I want to affirm very clearly here that I have never encountered ‘suspicion’ amongst the Orthodox Christians I know. Neither, for that matter, have my friends in the sui juris Churches encountered any ‘coldness’ – and less misunderstanding than they receive from the average Roman! We have always been made welcome. It may help that I have, for some time, been working on getting my head around some basic Orthodox theology and trying to figure out to what extent we may truly disagree, and to what extent differences are merely apparent and caused by issues of language and mindset (e.g. the way we talk about Purgatory or Original Sin). I think a lot of the problems are to do with the latinate expression of Catholic theology, rather than the theology itself.

  57. kat says:

    Padre Pio (I believe) said that it would be easier for the earth to survive without the sun than to survive without the Mass. Even the Bible predicted that there would be the Holy Sacrifice constantly…”And in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My Name a clean oblation.” It used to be that somewhere in the world there was always a Mass going on. I wonder if that is true anymore, with so few priests, and many of them not offering their own Mass daily. Our Lord gives His graces through the Mass, the reenactment of the Unbloody Sacrifice of Calvary. The more often it is said, the more graces can be given to the world. The priesthood is especially for two main actions: the celebration of the Holy Mass and the hearing of confessions. No one else can do these things. May God grant us many holy priests to fulfill these important duties.

  58. priests wife says:

    Fr Z- your blog is giving me an education! Thanks for letting the comments flow

  59. Pingback: 2011 EXTRA | ThePulp.it

  60. jhayes says:

    Precentrix said: “May I suggest that one reason why we find ‘private’ Masses such a beautiful expression of the Church is precisely *because* the Liturgy is a public act of the whole Church (including those who have gone ahead of us and those yet to be born)? When Father celebrates the Eucharist, the whole Church is present. Likewise, when he prays the Divine Office (the Hours), he is acting as the voice of the Church. The way I understand it, both the Orthodox requirement for the presence of the cantor and one other, and the Latin-Catholic allowance of ‘private’ Masses, are expressions of the same theological idea – the Communion of Saints.”

    Vatican II did away with the term “Private Mass”. Initially, it became “Mass Without a Congregation” and is now “Mass at Which Only One Minister Participates”. As the GIRM says:

    254. Mass should not be celebrated without a minister, or at least one of the faithful, except for a just and reasonable cause. In this case, the greetings, the instructions, and the blessing at the end of Mass are omitted.

    33. For the Priest, as the one who presides, expresses prayers in the name of the Church and of the assembled community

    95. In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal Priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves.

    The idea is that there should always be a “community” present, even if it is only one person. It requires a “just and worthy cause” to celebrate without that person. That person says “Amen” at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer to signify that he/she is offering the sacrificial victim along with the priest.

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