Quante messe può celebrare un sacerdote al giorno
The normal practice is to have one Mass per day, but there are exceptions. After the quarantine for Covid-19, the celebration of Mass resumes, and the Church is making efforts to accommodate as many people as possible while adhering to social distancing and other health regulations.
In many churches, only two people sit on each bench, one at each end, and only every other bench is occupied. The situation becomes particularly delicate in densely populated areas.
Is it possible to increase the number of Masses? According to the Code of Canon Law (Canon 905), except in cases where it is lawful to celebrate or concelebrate the Eucharist multiple times in a day, a priest is not allowed to celebrate more than once a day.
However, in cases where there is a shortage of priests, the local Ordinary may grant permission for priests to celebrate twice a day for a just cause, and even three times on Sundays and holy days of obligation if pastoral necessity requires it.
Based on the density of the parish assembly, a priest could potentially celebrate up to three Masses on Sundays. That being said, the salvation of souls always takes priority, and it is conceivable that a bishop may exceptionally authorize priests to celebrate a greater number of Masses given the circumstances.
The idea behind the article in the Code of Canon Law is to prevent the priest from becoming “a machine” and to respect the mystery being celebrated.
Se si possano mettere più intenzioni nella celebrazione della Messa
Dear Father Angelo,
I have a question regarding the intentions of the Holy Mass: Is it permissible (or rather, is it indifferent) to include multiple intentions for suffrage, or would it be more appropriate to indicate only one soul to whom the benefits of the Holy Mass are applied? I would like to know when the custom of multiplying intentions began and if there are theological or strictly pastoral motivations behind it. I wonder, if it is possible to indicate ten people, what is the difference between this and indicating the deceased of a family, a neighborhood, a parish, a city, and so on? Is it the same to indicate one person out of ten and the same person among the residents of a neighborhood to whom the Mass is applied? Thank you.
In communion of prayer, Antonio
I believe it is necessary to consider some important principles in this matter.
- The first principle concerns the sacrifice itself. I would like to share the thoughts of a great theologian who was a mentor to the future Pope John Paul II when he was a student in Rome. I am referring to Father Garrigou-Lagrange.
- Here is his clear perspective: “We must distinguish the value of the Mass from its effects or fruits. The value pertains to the dignity that this sacrifice possesses in itself, both with respect to what is offered and to the principal offerer. The fruit or effect is what is actually given in relation to the dignity of this sacrifice.”
- There are two conclusions commonly accepted and theologically certain. The first conclusion: the sacrifice of the Mass itself, in its primary act, is infinite in terms of its sufficiency. It is infinitely valuable due to the infinite dignity of the offered victim and the principal offerer. It is also infinitely extensive, meaning it is sufficient to expiate all sins and implore all goods pertaining to salvation. In fact, the sacrifice of the Mass, in substance, is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross (numerically identical). Therefore, just as the sacrifice of the Cross had infinite value for acquiring merit and satisfaction, so does the sacrifice of the Mass have infinite value for its application to different generations of people and in different places.
- The reason for the second conclusion is as follows: the Mass always has a finite effect on our part due to the limitations of the rational creature and the limits of our dispositions. This corresponds to the order of Divine Providence. Just as graces are given successively and not simultaneously, it is fitting for Masses to be multiplied, and thus, priests celebrate as many Masses as there are people for whom they are obliged to offer.
- Therefore, things are clear: the sacrifice of the Mass has infinite value, but its effects on individuals are always limited.
- But how do these effects reach individual persons? Father Garrigou-Lagrange says, “Just as the sun is indifferent to whether it illuminates or warms a thousand people together or just one, so it is with the sacrifice of the Mass. Therefore, the effect of the Mass depends solely on the devotion of those for whom it is offered, or of the offerers. Thus, its influence is only limited by the capacity of those who receive its benefits.” That its effect is always limited is also shown by Christ’s command to repeat the celebration: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
- So far, the learned Dominican theologian. Now, I draw some conclusions, especially regarding the devotion of the offerers. These conclusions touch both the people who request the celebration of the Mass and the priest who celebrates it. Devotion of the offerers can be expressed in various ways: through personal presence, devotion, the sanctity of participation, and even the alms given. Regarding the sanctity of participation, it is worth recalling what St. Bonaventure said: “In the Mass, there are some surrounding things, such as petitions, prayers, supplications, devout manner, and affection. In this regard, the Mass of a good priest has a greater value in arousing devotion. And if someone listens more willingly to the Mass of a more devout priest, I believe it is good to do so.” Additionally, I think it is easier to experience greater devotion when celebrating for one intention rather than a collection of intentions.
- There are also some considerations to be made regarding the offering given to the celebrating priest for the celebration of the Mass:
- If one joins the sacrifice of Christ only mentally, without attaching any personal (material or spiritual) sacrifice, the effect of the Mass undoubtedly remains inferior.
- It should be noted that the offering given for the celebration of the Mass is not the price of the sacrifice, which in itself has infinite value, but a contribution for the sustenance of the celebrating priest.
- If the priest receives an offering for the celebration of a Mass benefiting multiple people, the effect for these people is the same as that produced for the celebration of one person. It all depends on the devotion of the offerers, namely, the devotion of those who request the Mass to be celebrated and the devotion of the priest who celebrates it. If the devotion is greater and someone makes a certain sacrifice in giving it, then they unite with the sacrifice of Christ through a greater personal sacrifice.
- If the priest receives an offering for one celebration, he must fulfill it justly with a single celebration without accumulating various intentions.
- Recently, the Holy See has granted permission for a priest to accumulate intentions only twice a week, with prior notice to the faithful. The priest can retain the equivalent of the offering for one Mass (the amount is determined by the Episcopal Conference) for himself and give the rest to the diocese for the needs of the Church.
I promise you a remembrance in the Mass which I am about to celebrate, and I bless you.
A Natale i sacerdoti potranno celebrare fino a 4 Messe
During the festivities of Maria Santissima Madre di Dio (1st January) and Epiphany (6th January), due to the Covid emergency, a decree issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship has been established. The purpose is to prevent gatherings during the pandemic and allow the faithful to attend Christmas Mass. According to this decree, priests will be allowed to celebrate up to four Masses. The decree was signed by Cardinal Prefect Robert Sarah and Secretary Archbishop Arthur Roche.
The Latin text of the provision states, “Given the situation triggered by the global spread of the pandemic, and in virtue of the faculties granted to this Congregation by His Holiness Pope Francis, we gladly grant the Ordinary of the place the permission, for reasons of the ongoing general contagion with the so-called Covid-19, to allow this year during the Christmas period to celebrate four Masses.” These Masses will be held on Christmas Day (25th December), Maria Santissima Madre di Dio (1st January), and Epiphany (6th January). The priests residing in their respective dioceses can decide when it is necessary for the benefit of the faithful.
According to the Code of Canon Law, in cases of a shortage of priests, the bishop “may grant that priests, for a just cause, celebrate twice a day and, if pastoral necessity requires, even three times on Sundays and holy days of obligation.” Therefore, three is the maximum number allowed.
The decree, only on these specific festive days during the pandemic, adds the possibility of celebrating a fourth Mass on Christmas, New Year’s Day (feast of Maria Santissima Madre di Dio), and Epiphany. This additional Mass aims to allow the faithful to participate while fully respecting the anti-Covid regulations.