"Sunday Mass" on Mondays

And More on the Trinitarian Formula

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ROME, MARCH 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: My parish has a Hispanic «Sunday Mass» on Monday evenings. They celebrate the Mass of the previous Sunday, and I believe the implication is that it fulfills their Sunday obligation. Is this licit? — M.M., Biloxi, Mississippi

A: If it is true that the implication is that this Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation, it is not licit. The Sunday obligation is just that, Sunday. The obligation may be fulfilled at any Mass on Saturday evening but may not be transferred to a weekday.

Another possibility exists, however. On another occasion we explained how in some Arabian countries it is permissible to celebrate the Sunday liturgy on a Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. In these countries Sunday is a regular working day, and many Christian immigrants find it impossible to attend Mass.

In this case it is the Sunday liturgy that is anticipated, not the Sunday obligation. Any Christian in these countries who can attend Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday retains the obligation of doing so. Praying a second, Sunday liturgy on a weekday holiday is a pastoral provision so that the large number of Christians who attend Mass on Friday may benefit from the richer selection of readings and prayers found on a Sunday.

There is no obligation to attend Mass on such a Friday celebration, and it is necessary to explain that Sunday is not transferred.

It is possible that the repetition of the Sunday liturgy on Monday obeys a similar motivation. In the United States large numbers of Spanish speakers work in service industries that frequently require weekend work. If the number is significant in a particular parish, then it is possible that the necessary permission could be sought to repeat the Sunday liturgy so as to provide a continuous catechesis in line with the liturgical year. But to repeat: Clear catechesis is necessary to explain that using the Sunday liturgy for pastoral purposes is not synonymous with fulfilling the Sunday obligation.

Celebrating the Mass in Spanish would not in itself be a sufficient motivation for this transfer. In this case it could encourage some Spanish speakers to neglect their Sunday obligation in the false belief that they can do so attending the Monday Mass. If a Sunday Mass in Spanish is needed in the parish, then it must be celebrated either on Saturday evening or Sunday proper.

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Follow-up: Faulty Trinitarian Formula

Pursuant to our Feb. 22 piece on an erroneous Trinitarian formula, a reader asked: «A minister of the Church, while performing a baptism, became slightly flustered by noisy children. He began the baptism with: ‘I baptize you in the name of God the Father’ then realized he had added a word but decided to keep going on the same track, presuming it would be OK from the validity point of view: ‘… and of God the Son and of God the Holy Spirit.’ Was the baptism valid?»

Yes. Although the formula was not the official text, it contained all of the essential sacramental words and the additions did nothing to alter their meaning.

By this I do not mean to say that the minister may arbitrarily change the words, provided that he conserves the essential elements. Rather, I simply underline the fact that in this particular case the actions of a flustered minister did not affect the validity of the sacrament.

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Readers may send questions to liturgy@zenit.org. Please put the word «Liturgy» in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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