March 18, 2010

Spiritual Economy Question

Here's a little quodlibetal question that came up at supper tonight:

As I understand it--and this is one of those things they never even told you about in the formation program--those of us who are priests are supposed to each offer a Mass for a friar of our province when he dies. We are supposed to do the same for the deceased parents of friars.

I'm happy to do this, of course, and think it a lovely custom. It's a difficult thing to manage in practice, however, when you work in a parish for which all of the Masses are scheduled six months in advance with exclusive intentions. Therefore, in order to find a day to persolve one of these personal Mass obligations, I have to wait for a day when I have no obligation to offer Mass publicly. There are not enough of these days to meet the backlog of intentions I have built up over the course of just a couple years of priesthood. Complicating the matter in my particular case is my role as friar funeral MC, which precludes my concelebrating at the funeral Masses themselves. Not that I begrudge this ministry. Though it gives me a lot of anxiety; I can accept the ways in which I am suited to it.

So the question arises: If someone sends me, specifically and personally, a Mass card from another church announcing that Mass will be offered for my deceased confrere, can I count that as my Mass offered? I doubt it, but it's an interesting question.

et orent pro defunctis (Rule III:4)


Adoro said... If it is YOUR Mass, then YOU have the responsibility of offering that Mass in order to fulfill the obligation.

I'm sorry I can't quote the Canon in this moment, but in our CL class the prof, a Canon Lawyer, spoke a great deal on this and I know I marked the canons...but don't think I tabbed them as they weren't on the test!

He wanted us to know as apparently the Mass intention problem is a common one in parishes and he knew we might run into it at some point. One of those practical lessons.

I'm sorry. :-(

I know there is a time issue and a limit on how many Masses can be celebrated per day by any given priest unless there is a dispensation given, you have any days where your max isn't maxed out?

(weird question and very compressed so if you don't want to publish this in order to avoid confusing readers whom will then need worries.)

Or if I'm a heretic just ignore me and correct me! lol!

timh said...

Why is the Intention exclusive? I thought a priest could only accept one stipend per Mass - actualy one per day - and any additional stipends went to charity; your Masses for deceased friars or parents don't even have stipends, do they?

for narnia said...

what a nice custom to have, Fr. C. you do have a dilemna, though, especially because you're a parish priest with most of the Masses already having "exclusive intentions," as you mention. your current role as friar funeral MC is a special one and something you do a beautiful and prayerful job with. in a wa, that is your offering for the deceased friar, because you do it with such reverence, care and in such a prayerful way. it's so beautiful! PAX! ~tara t~

Brother Charles said...

My canon lawyer offers his opinion in a one-word email:


Brother Charles said...

Adoro: I agree and I think you're right. I have faculties to offer two Masses on weekdays and three on Sundays in the case of pastoral necessity. I don't consider this to be a case of pastoral necessity because I will be able to take care of it eventually.

timh: You are right about stipends. Under certain circumstances Masses can be offered for multiple intentions, but only if those who are offering the stipend understand and consent to this. I once wrote to our vicar general about utilizing the Holy See's permission to have two Masses a week for multiple intentions and he begged me not to do it. From his email: "People are used to giving a donation for having a Mass offered, and sooner or later, despite your best efforts to explain an alternate practice, someone will hit the ceiling and call the Cardinal because you cheated them and prayed for someone else besides Aunt Sadie."

Tara: Thanks for your encouragement. I have no doubt that this is the case in some sense of the larger spiritual economy. But you know me, I'm a little precise, as my mother says.

fr. Matt, OFM Conv. said...


One of the joys of being a friar-priest in a high school is that I don't have to worry about it. :-)