Weekday liturgy when Mass is not celebrated

 This guidance, prepared by a working group of the Irish Commission for Liturgy, is offered as a resource for the consideration of individual Bishops in their dioceses.

 Irish Episcopal Conference Dec 2009

Daily Mass is a feature of parish life everywhere in . However, it is becoming increasingly common to find that the celebration of Mass on every weekday is not always possible. By and large such situations are by way of exception, but they are likely to occur more frequently in the future. The need for a daily liturgy remains.

It is accepted that many parishes have already liturgies in place and that the catechesis for such celebrations and the preparation of those who lead and minister at these celebrations has varied in a considerable manner.

 The Roman Ritual provides the rite of distributing Holy Communion outside Mass with the celebration of the Word in Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass (1973) and to people who are sick in Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying.

 Discussion on different approaches is important before a pastoral strategy is put in place, taking account of.

 The long tradition of receiving Holy Communion on weekdays and for many every day.

 The norms in Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass which include:

 Sacramental Communion received during Mass is the more perfect participation in the Eucharistic celebration (13).

Priests, however, are not to refuse to give communion to the faithful who ask for it outside Mass (14).

Communion may be given outside Mass on any day and at any hour. It is proper, however, to determine the hours for giving communion, with a view to the convenience of the faithful, so that the celebration may take place in a fuller form and with greater spiritual benefit (16).

 ·         Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations [on Sunday], the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday (Instruction Redemptoris sacramentum CDW, 2004, 166). These celebrations are to be considered altogether extraordinary.

 ·         Support for not permitting a weekday liturgy with Holy Communion is based on reading the norms about Sunday and accepting the principle that provides the context for full, conscious and participation as the peoples offering the spotless Victim not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer themselves (GIRM 95).

 ·         Not permitting a weekday liturgy with Holy Communion may create a sense of solidarity with the many Catholics throughout the world who are unable to celebrate Mass on Sundays and weekdays.

 ·         Celebrations of the Word of God are recommended. The importance of such celebrations in communities which are unable to celebrate the Eucharist was acknowledged and it was proposed that the wider Church may learn of best practice trom these communities (Synod of Bishops, October 2007, proposition 18).

 ·         The Liturgy of the Hours provides a privileged place for hearing the Word of God. The faithful are encouraged to participate in Morning and Evening Prayer so that it becomes even more the prayer of the whole people. The preparation of simple forms of the Liturgy of the Hours is encouraged (Synod of Bishops, October 2007, proposition 19).

 A diocesan-wide catechesis should be provided which covers the following:

 ·         Receiving Holy Communion is the culmination of participating in the celebration of the Eucharist. The celebration of the Eucharist should find its consummation in receiving Holy Communion.

 ·         The distinction between the celebration of the Eucharist and the distribution of Holy  Communion outside Mass.

 ·         The options for liturgy on occasions on weekdays when Mass is not celebrated.

 ·         An understanding of Morning and Evening Prayer and the Liturgy of the Word. The  resources available, including adaptations of these liturgies.

This catechesis should take place before any decision about weekday liturgies is implemented.

Those leading the weekday liturgy should undertake a formation course in leading liturgy and prayer.

 Two options are available for weekday liturgy in circumstances where Mass is not available:

 ·         The Liturgy of the Hours as Morning or Evening Prayer

 ·         The Liturgy of the Word or where permitted, then Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion.

The distribution of Holy Communion at a weekday liturgy outside of Mass may be permitted with permission of the Bishop. Where this is given the following should be observed:

 ·         The expressions, Eucharistic Service and Communion Service should be avoided in favour of Liturgy (or Celebration) of the Word with Holy Communion. The formal title of such services is the Rite of Distributing Holy Communion outside Mass.

 ·         Notice of where, in neighboring parishes, Mass is celebrated that day.

 ·         The Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion may only take place on one occasion a day and only on a day when Mass is not celebrated.

 ·         An understanding of spiritual communion should be known as in what St Teresa of Avila wrote: “When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you” (quoted in Ecclesia de Eucharistia 34).

 Irish Episcopal Conference December 2009 Guidance on Weekday Liturgy when Mass is not celebrated