QUAERITUR: Requiem on Memorial Day which is during the Octave of Pentecost

From a reader:

At a local parish here in my Archdiocese, there is going to be a High Requiem Mass on Memorial Day, which this year takes place on one of the Octave Days of Pentecost. A priest at another parish says this is illicit, and he therefore is not scheduling a Requiem Mass for that day. Do you Father believe and/ or know if it is licit to have a Requiem Mass on Memorial Day, when it lands during the Octave of Pentecost?

First, let’s get one thing straight.  In one of the worst, nay rather, the very worst, in fact, close to the top of the heap of the worst things done to us in the Latin Church in the name of the Second Vatican Council’s mandate for a reform on the liturgy, was the abolition of the Octave of Pentecost.  There is no Octave of Pentecost in the Ordinary Form calendar.

And, yes, I know the story about Paul VI that is out and around on the internet.  I know the story because I am the source of the story, which was told to me years ago by one of the papal Masters of Ceremony from the time of Paul VI.  I put it in one of my columns in The Wanderer and one the Catholic Online Forum and the rest is history.  I am also amused when people tell me about a certain prayer before using the Internet.  But I digress.

BTW… I once made a series of PODCAzTs about the Octave.

Yes, even in the Ordinary Form calendar there is an optional nod in the direction of Pentecost in the days following that great and solemn feast, which should be given its proper dignity.  But an optional nod doth not an Octave make.

If you are using the Extraordinary Form, there is an Octave.  Reason #93664 to thank Pope Benedict for the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.  In that case, each day during the Octave is a 1st class feast, which don’t provide a lot of room for votive or Requiem Masses for the Poor Souls.

Still, it seems to me a reasonable approach might be to petition your local bishop for permission to have one as an exception to the general rule.  The bishops might be surprised by such a question, but I bet he would play ball.

BTW… aren’t the spring Ember Days within the Octave this year?



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  1. uptoncp says:

    Hang on, what’s the current definition of the Ember Days, then, if it isn’t between Pentecost and Trinity? I thought it was just us in the CofE who’d gone odd with them.

  2. AJP says:

    I thought the summer ember days always fell during the octave of Pentecost. If that is indeed the case, then the octave of Pentecost already has a more penitential feel built into it than the Christmas and Easter Octaves – so seems like a Requiem would not be out of place.

  3. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    2nd worst. NOTHING was worse that “Joy is Like the Rain.”

  4. ContraMundum says:

    Boy, a list of worst things would keep us here all day. I’d probably put reception in the hand pretty close to the top, along with getting rid of kneelers and altar girls.

    I’d never heard of “Joy Is Like the Rain”, but I found it on Youtube. Pretty bad, but still, in my opinion, not as bad as “Look Beyond” or “Sing a New Church”, where a heroic act of charity is required not to conclude that the songs are heresy.

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    Here in England on Remembrance Sunday (Sunday closest to 11th NovembeR) the Priests are allowed to say a Requium Mass in addition to the normal Sunday Masses.

  6. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    I’ll see your “Look Beyond” and “Sing a New Church”, and raise it with “It’s a long, long road to Freedom”. At least your songs mention God and Jesus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txK5ZazkJBU

  7. Joshua08 says:

    The Ember days are set within the Octave of Pentecost. That is when they always are. Those are the Masses for those days within the octave

    But red, not violet, vestments are used, and fasting/abstinence was not had on them.

    Since the days are 1st class, only an actual funeral Mass can be celebrated on that day. Funeral Masses (exsequali) may be said on any day except does days 1-6 on the table of precedence. The days in the Octave of Pentecost are number 10. But this would not be a funeral Mass, which must be directly connected with the funeral (cf 405 Rubricae generales). Requiem Masses, in the 1962 Missal, are not governed as votive Masses, but under their own rule.

    In any case, for public need the bishop may permit a votive Mass of the 2nd class only (366-368, ibid). And in anycase, that has to be taken from a certain set of Masses. Considering the rubrics specifically mention when a bishop can permit a special Mass of a certain class, allow external solemnities beyond those named, etc., I don’t think the bishop has the authority to permit what would be a 3rd class requiem on a first class day.

    Then again, in the early twentieth century the US had permission from Rome to celebrate requiems on Mondays with greater latitude. But even then, not on the Monday of Pentecost week. The privilege had to be transferred. From the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913

    In the United States there is a faculty (“Fac. Ord.”, Form I, 20) ordinarily communicated to priests through the bishop which grants permission to celebrate a requiem Mass on Mondays non impeditis officio novem lectionem. The phrase officio novem lectionem gave rise to a doubt as to whether semi-doubles only were referred to, or if doubles also were understood. The Congregation of Rites answered (4 Sept., 1875, no. 3370, ad. 1) that this Mass was allowed on all Mondays during the year, except (a) on the vigils of Christmas and the Epiphany; (b) in Holy Week; (c) during the octaves of Christmas, the Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi; (d) holy days of obligation; (e) greater doubles and doubles of the first and second class. If the enumerated cases hinder this Mass on Monday, the privilege is transferred to Tuesday, under the same conditions, but it lapses after that day.

  8. aquinas138 says:

    The Ember Days are as follows:

    Advent – the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday
    Lent – the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Quadragesima Sunday
    Pentecost – the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost
    September – the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after the Third Sunday of September

    It is often said that the September Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after the Exaltation of the Cross; this was never the actual rule, but it did work out that way (in the current extraordinary form, though, it does not always). Before the new rubrics of 1960, the liturgical “First Sunday” of September was the Sunday nearest the kalends of September, which in a modern calendar could be in either August or September; this same rule applied to August, October and November.

    Bl. John XXIII’s new rubrics (the current extraordinary form) changed the first Sunday of August, September, October and November to be the Sunday occurring from the 1st to the 7th of the month. Two effects this has is that the Ember Days are often a week later than under previous rubrics, and that the Matins lessons of the second week of November (Ezekiel) are perpetually impeded and thus never read. In fact, they are usually not even printed in “1962” breviaries.

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