February 1, 2012

A Dubium for the Feast of St. Brigid

Here's a liturgical question. I'm interested in hearing thoughts and opinions.

I've been helping out with Masses in two South Boston churches lately, St. Brigid and Gate of Heaven. They are separate parishes canonically, but have one pastor, one parish office, one staff, and one bulletin. Thus, though they remain two parishes, they are very much associated with one another.

My question has to do with the observance of the liturgical day tomorrow.

It's a ferial day in the general Roman calendar, as well as in the proper calendar for the United States, the plain old weekday in Ordinary Time that is the standard example of low solemnity. It is also, however, the feast day of St. Brigid.

At St. Brigid's, the answer is simple. It's their titular feast day, and so the Mass of St. Brigid would be offered, either with the Commons from an American edition of the Roman Missal, or with the proper prayers, which I suppose one could use if he considered South Boston to be a suburb of Ireland. I checked my Commonwealth English breviary; Brigid is a feast day there, as well she might be as patroness.

I, however, have the Mass at Gate of Heaven tomorrow. Given the strong association of the place with the other parish, as well as the fairly intense Irishness of the place, ought I to use the Commons to offer a Mass of St. Brigid? As I said, the day is otherwise free to select 'any Mass' for just cause or pastoral advantage. Or would it be better to respect the individuality of the place by not doing so?

Of course, should he say anything, I will do as the pastor directs.

St. Brigid, pray for us. Happy spring, happy Imbolc, and happy whatever else you would like to be happy about.


Thom, OFS said...

This non-sacerdotal but liturgically-minded guy would offer the Mass for St. Brigid both places. Not only would it help to promote unity between the parishes, but I think that any opportunity to go "beyond" an ordinary feria is an opportunity that shouldn't be missed.

Statius said...

It somehow cheers this ex-pagan up a great deal to be wished a happy Imbolc by a Franciscan! Happy St. Bridget's Day to you, Father.

Brian Garcia-Luense said...

From a strictly legal perspective you are of course free to offer the mass of St. Brigid at Gate of Heaven. "On the weekdays in Ordinary Time, it is possible to choose either a weekday Mass,
or the Mass of an optional memorial which happens to occur on that day, or the Mass of any Saint listed in the Martyrology for that day, or a Mass for Various Needs, or a Votive Mass."

From a pastoral perspective, it would seem to me that the question turns on the lived reality of the two communities at this time. Would the congregation at Gate of Heaven view this as celebrating together with their sister community in a show of support, collegiality, and common cause? Would they view it as an imposition and a surreptitious attempt to be assimilated into another community? How long have the two communities share a single pastor and single administration? How have the people reacted to this reality?

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

My vote would be to say the Mass for Saint Brigid at both parishes. Both parishes are distinctly separate, yet both are located in South Boston which is distinctly Irish. With her being a patron saint of Ireland, I don’t think Southie’s will complain. Also being a Saint, Brigid must have passed through the gates of heaven.

Arlen said...

I agree with the other people who posted comments: celebrating St. Bridid at Gate of Heaven parish seems appropriate, both from a liturgical and pastoral perspective. I would only add that, perhaps, it makes more sense to celebrate the Mass as a Memorial (at which the readings for the feria can be used) as opposed to a Solemnity (which obliges that the Gloria and the Creed be recited/sang and proper readings be used) which would seem appropriate at the parish named in her honor. This allows Gate of Heaven to celebrate St. Brigid, while respecting St. Brigid's parish right to celebrate the day with greater solemnity because she is their patron.