ASK FATHER: Mass at a side altar during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? And a short rant.

From a reader…


It is permissible for to have Public Mass at a side altar during Adoration.? And does it matter that the side altar is in the sanctuary, which is quite small? It just seems odd to me because they are both m the same line of sight.

I don’t believe that for the Novus Ordo this is permissible.  However, in a place where the Traditional Mass is being used it can be done.

For example, during the devotion – O PLEASE, Fathers!, bring this back! – of the Quarant’Ore, Forty Hours Devotion, while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the main altar, PUBLIC Mass (Pro pace) can be said on a side altar.

PRIVATE Mass can also be said.  The directives for Forty Hours indicate bells are not to be rung during the private Masses said in the church during Exposition.

So, the clear point is that, yes, private Masses can be said during exposition, even during the solemn rites of Forty Hours.  The one public Mass can be said at a side altar during Forty Hours.  However, outside of Forty Hours Devotion, public Masses should be be celebrated during Exposition.  Only private Masses would be allowed.

Also, Forty Hours is the only time, now, when Mass can be said at the same altar where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, Missa coram Sanctissimo.   This was once common in places like Austria, where such Masses probably helped to inoculate the people again the virus of Protestantism.

So, yes, the Traditional Mass can be celebrated privately in the same church where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.   It should not be a public, scheduled Mass, pulling people’s attention from the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

Again, I make a plea to priests and bishops to


Once, dioceses had Forty Hours going on somewhere every week.   The year’s schedule for the churches where Forty Hours would be was even published in secular papers.   The clergy would invite each other to participate and priests would come to pray and then to spend time together afterwards… serious and good clericalism!

This devotion developed in time of necessity.

It is not a kind of long Corpus Christi.

It is not a long Holy Thursday.

It grew up to beg God for relief and protection from plague and invasion and other calamities.

Sound like a good idea for our times?

The Church has been where we are before.  Let us RECOVER our spiritual weapons.

Or… how lazy have priests become?  How indifferent to the supernatural might we could wield?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Missae coram sanctissimo were indeed common in Austria on “adoration days”, even in the 1970ies in the novus ordo, where a high Mass was sung in the vernacular versus populum, with the Sanctissimum being placed on the altar standing between the celebrant (usually some sort of a prelate, if possible with the usus pontificalium, invited for this occasion) and the priests acting as deacon and subdeacon on one side and the people in the pews on the other. I remember that we (the servers) had to make double genuflexions where simple genuflexions were to be made in normal masses. It was a time of transition …

  2. tho says:

    Experiencing what we once had, and seeing what we have now, is very depressing. Our hierarchy reminds me of the Democrats, telling us that socialism is a viable form of government, in spite of the failures wherever it has been tried.
    Our culture both spiritually and politically is starting to enter a free fall, and our leaders blithely tell us all is well. President Trump, in his ham handed way is doing a good job, and he seems not to back away from controversy. His love for America and Americans is obvious.
    We would do well to emulate the FSSP, the SSPX, and the ICTK. As you say so accurately We Are Our Rites.

  3. WmHesch says:

    Interestingly violet vestments were worn if there was a Requiem at the side altar during 40 Hours

  4. Pingback: TVESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  5. lgreen515 says:

    Cleveland has 40 hours every year at each parish. It has since I became Catholic in 2010, and probably before that.

  6. TonyO says:

    How in the world do the altar boys light those incredibly tall candles? Even with a long, long lighter, it would be a challenge holding it steady enough (and with the risk of knocking things over!)

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