- Prayer and Worship
- Beliefs and Teachings
- Issues and Action
- Catholic Giving
- About USCCB
In recent years the topic of Weekday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest has been raised by diocesan Directors of Worship and during the 1998 National Meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. The then-Secretariat for the Liturgy conducted consultations with diocesan directors of Worship, pastors and bishops which culminated in an extended discussion by the members and consultants of the Committee on the Liturgy at its March 13, 2000, meeting in Washington D.C. The following reflections are offered to bishops and their advisors and may serve o assist bishops in the formulation of guidelines for this important area of pastoral life.
Any discussion of weekday liturgical worship must begin by recalling the importance and normative character of daily Mass in the life of every Catholic community. Pope Paul VI recommended that priests "worthily and devoutly offer Mass each day in order that both they and the rest of the faithful may enjoy the benefits that flow so richly from the sacrifice of the cross."1 Pope John Paul II echoes these words in recalling that the celebration of the Eucharist be the "most important moment of the priest's day, the center of his life," and urging that "priests should be encouraged to celebrate Mass every day, even in the absence of a congregation, since it is an act of Christ and the Church (cf. ibid., 13; Code of Canon Law, c. 904)."2
Elsewhere, the Holy Father encourages seminarians to "take part every day in the eucharistic celebration, in such a way that afterwards they will take up as a rule of their priestly life this daily celebration"3 Quoting the Cure of Ars the Holy Father also exhorts, "How well a priest does, therefore, to offer himself to God in sacrifice every morning!"4
In recent years, the Church in the United States of America has experienced a reduction in the number of priests available to celebrate Mass on a daily basis in our parish communities. Indeed, in some places, one priest is assigned as pastor of several parishes and is barely able to provide Sunday Mass in each of these communities. In other instances, even the Sunday Mass is not possible each week. Thus, the ritual book Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of Priest was developed.
In recent discussions, the Committee on the Liturgy considered several principles which it recommends to bishops in their development of diocesan norms on the question of how to address related issues. These principles are presented as a starting point for such considerations:
By accepting this message, you will be leaving the website of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This link is provided
solely for the user's convenience. By providing this link, the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops assumes no responsibility for,
nor does it necessarily endorse, the website, its content, or