ASK FATHER: Can our priest add to Mass prayers the votive collects against epidemics?

From a reader…


I hope you are doing well today. My pastor is the dean for the archdiocese of ___. He wanted to know if he has the competent authority to allow himself to offer Mass of the Féria of lent with votive collects against plague and epidemic or if he needs to apply to our Archbishop.

When there is a grave and public cause – which there clearly is right now – and there is no time or the Ordinary of the place can’t be reached, the parish priest (pastor, parochus) can determine that a Votive Mass, even a Class IV on a Class III Feria of Lent, can be used.

Although this is in theory an age of rapid communication, it can take a surprisingly long time to get a message through to a bishop or a vicar general (a VG is a “local ordinary” who can permit just about everything a bishop can permit).  Hence, if it is a matter of making a rapid decision, then the pastor can make the decision without contacting the bishop.

However, if this is going to be an ongoing thing, then an ordinary should give permission for a period of time.

Where I am, I asked the local bishop for permission to use appropriate Votive Masses through June.  He willingly granted the permission.

Also, a bishop can establish for Masses in his diocese an oratio imperata, which must be said.   In the traditional Rite, it is said with its own conclusion.  It is prohibited on Class I and II feasts and Votive Mass as “high Masses”.   It is said on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, only.

Again, if a pastor of a parish for some reason can’t reach the bishop in a timely way to request permission – and bishops are quite busy, aren’t they? – the pastor can make the call about the use of Class IV Votive Masses on Class III Ferias of Lent.

We are both body and soul.  The Church’s mighty prayers of Mass and blessings of sacramentals refer to their effects as being both bodily and spiritual.

Let’s use ALL our spiritual weaponry to aid the well-being of the body!

Si vis pacem para bellum!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Fr_Andrew says:

    I recall in Canon Law class, that the standard for communications is still by post.

    Even in the age of rapid communications, there is no need to use e-mail, text, or even phone calls to communicate with the ordinary (and of course those are not “official” channels anyway).

    If there is an immediate need, and it is foreseen that a bishop will not be able to respond in time to a letter a priest sends today, by when the thing is needed, and the law allows him to presume permission, then he could do so in these circumstances.

    That does allow a lot more flexibility, but I do think we have to keep the spirit of things. Priests shouldn’t just be adding collects left and right for any occasion. It should be serious enough that a reasonable bishop would be okay with it.

  2. PennCatholic says:

    If I were to make a request to my ordinary for such permission is there a rubric that I can reference? Mine is not familiar with the EF and would be cautious in granting a permission which he isn’t certain he is able to give.

Comments are closed.