LITURGY Q & A: Masses for the Holy Family

Fr. Edward McNamara Says Various-Needs Celebration Could Suffice

Light of candles into a church

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Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, Professor of liturgy and Dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

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Q: In the list of votive Masses of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a votive Mass of “The Most Holy Family” is not included. My question is: May the Mass of the feast of the Most Holy Family be celebrated as a votive Mass at other times according to the rules for votive Masses? I suspect not. But taking into account the importance on family in the Church at the present, I add another question: How can the possibility of a votive Mass of the Most Holy Family be proposes, and to whom could it be proposed? – A.B., Kemerovo, Russia

A: I think that one solution could be using the Mass for Various Needs and Occasions, No. 12, “For the Family.” The prayers of this Mass make explicit reference to the Holy Family. To wit:

“Entrance Antiphon: (Ephesians 6:2-3) Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.”

Collect: “O God, in whose eternal design family life has its firm foundation, look with compassion on the prayers of your servants and grant that, following the example of the Holy Family of your Only Begotten Son in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, we may, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

Prayer over the Offerings: “We offer you, Lord, the sacrifice of conciliation, humbly asking that you may establish our families firmly in your grace and your peace. Through Christ our Lord.”

Communion Antiphon: (Isaiah 49: 15) “Can a mother forget her infant? Even should she forget, I will never forget you, says the Lord.”

Prayer after Communion: “Bring those you refresh with this heavenly Sacrament, most merciful Father, to imitate constantly the example of the Holy Family of your Only Begotten Son, so that, after the trials of this world, they may share their company for ever. Through Christ our Lord.”

I would say that the presence of this new Mass for various needs obviates the need to recur to the prayers of the feast of the Most Holy Family, and that is probably why it is not explicitly included as a possibility.

The extraordinary form did allow for the possibility of using the Holy Family as a votive Mass but did not contain a Mass like the one above.

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Readers may send questions to [email protected]. 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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