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  #1  
Old Jan 12, '09, 6:36 am
lorathon lorathon is offline
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Default Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

On Sunday the priest saying the Mass collapsed (fainted) right before the recessional. ( Please pray for him - Last I heard he was fine, he just had to spend the night at the hospital for observation.)

So now my questions.

1. If the presiding priest were to collapse or be unable to continue mass what is to be done? Any documentation would be greatly appreciated.

2. If there is no priest to say mass, what is to be done? Our parish has a document to follow if the priest does not show up. I read it and it seems that it follows the mass in whole. Is that OK? I have no clue so just wanted to see if anyone has any documentation regarding these things.
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  #2  
Old Jan 12, '09, 6:45 am
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nicolep nicolep is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

1. Can't provide documentation, but I would assume you would continue like it's a communion service.

2. This would be a communion service, which is perfectly acceptable in the absence of a priest. We've had daily Mass that way a few times when both of our priests were unavailable.

I'm sure other, more knowledgeable; posters can provide documents, etc.

Edit - Oops, just saw it was right before the recessional. In that situation, I'd make sure that the priest got medical attention and say a prayer of Thanksgiving. Then, I would leave.
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  #3  
Old Jan 12, '09, 7:02 am
Scripture Warri Scripture Warri is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

As the previous posting states, that if the situation arises after communion, prayers and appropriate dignified exit is the answer. However, if this were to occur prior to the liturgy, the situation is different.
There exists a rite within our US Catholic community (I do not know about other countries) called "Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest" (SCAP). This can be led by commissioned "SCAP" ministers. In our Diocese there have been commissioned some ministers for each parish. The Bishop has the option of determining if this will be put in place and if they will be empowered to provide communion using previously consecrated hosts, (In our case the Bishop has not), The rite uses all of the normal liturgy except those functions reserved for the ordained. Ask your parish administrator, or contact your diocese to find out if this rite has been adopted to your dicese.
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  #4  
Old Jan 12, '09, 7:16 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lorathon View Post
On2. If there is no priest to say mass, what is to be done? Our parish has a document to follow if the priest does not show up. I read it and it seems that it follows the mass in whole. Is that OK? .
no it is not true, it does not follow "the Mass in whole". If the sacrament has not yet been consecrated, the deacon or deputized lay person specified in your plan continues with the liturgy of the Word, prayer of the faithful, no communion prayer as there will be no consecration, and may distribute communion if there are any hosts reserved in the tabernacle. Under no circumstances should unconsecrated bread and wine be distributed. If the sacred species has already been confected, it may be distributed in the communion rite, beginning with the Our Father. In OP's case Mass is essentially finished. If the priest was unable to give the final blessing, then it would be omitted, and the deacon gives the dismissal as usual.

If there is no priest at all, there is a rite for Communion in the absence of a Priest on Sunday. This is NOT Mass, in whole or in part.
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  #5  
Old Jan 12, '09, 7:32 am
lorathon lorathon is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Thank you. What you have described sounds exactly like the document that I read. I guess I miss spoke a bit when I stated "in whole". It was the mass without the eurcharistic prayer and the consecration. The distribution is to be done from consecrated host in the tabernacle.

What if the situation arises during the consecration? I have heard that the consecration will need to be finished by another priest. Is this true? At which point does another priest need to be called to finish mass if that is true?
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  #6  
Old Jan 12, '09, 7:32 am
Dicerning Dicerning is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Once the Eucharistic Prayer is complete the Priest is no longer needed for it to be called a Mass. It has happened twice at my parish. Both time the priest left the alter because a family member ran into the church urging the priest to come and administer last rigthts and a final confession.

Both times our deacons were present and finished up with distributing communion and final blessing.
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  #7  
Old Jan 12, '09, 7:51 am
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FrDavid96 FrDavid96 is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Once the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has begun, it must be completed. This means that it must be completed by a priest. A community cannot "shift" from a Mass to a "Sunday celebration in the absence of a priest" in the middle of a Mass.

In the situation described by the OP, the Mass had already ended (he collapsed right before the recessional), so there's no concern here from a liturgical point of view (of course, there is much concern for the priest's health and well being, but that's not what this is about).

When a priest is truly unable to complete the Mass, some other priest must be called-in to do so (if the first priest doesn't simply "recover" after a few minutes of rest).

On a purely practical note, I realy don't know what would happen in the case of an isolated parish (say the next priest is several hours away). The Mass must be completed, so the next priest would proceed from the point at which the Mass was "paused." However, I don't know of any guidelines on what the congregation is supposed to do. If there's another priest at the parish and it takes 2 minutes to get him, obviously they wait. If it will take a few hours, well, I just don't know what they should do. Wait? Come back? Unsure. But proceeding with a quasi-Mass by distributing Holy Communion would not be an option.

To the OP's #2:
It is possible to have a "Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest" The Church specifically provides this ritual--in fact, liturgical books with that same title are available from any Catholic bookseller. However, for this to happen the permission of the local Ordinary is absolutely required. A parish cannot take it upon itself to decide to do this service should a priest not be available or not be there at the scheduled time--the bishop must still give his permission for this to happen.
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  #8  
Old Jan 12, '09, 7:56 am
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FrDavid96 FrDavid96 is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dicerning View Post
Once the Eucharistic Prayer is complete the Priest is no longer needed for it to be called a Mass. It has happened twice at my parish. Both time the priest left the alter because a family member ran into the church urging the priest to come and administer last rigthts and a final confession.

Both times our deacons were present and finished up with distributing communion and final blessing.
Once the Mass has begun, the priest must complete the Mass. It's not true to say that once the consecration itself has happened, the priest may simply leave (even if it is for a very good reason)--he still must complete the Mass, and a deacon cannot do that (nor anything resembling that).
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  #9  
Old Jan 12, '09, 8:32 am
benedictgal benedictgal is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

The Sacrifice is complete once the priest consumes the Body and Blood of Christ. That is why the priest needs to complete the sacrifice. Thus, his part is not "done" once the Eucharistic Prayer ends.
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  #10  
Old Jan 12, '09, 12:21 pm
MusicMan MusicMan is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Actually, once the Mass starts, the priest's part is not "done" until he imparts the final blessing. Even should he complete the Consecration by consuming the Sacred Species before he is unable to continue, another priest must finish for him. A deacon or lay person cannot come in following the priest's Communion and finish... it must be a priest.

I seem to remember reading either on other threads here or at EWTN that should the priest become physically unable to complete Mass that the Head Usher takes command of the situation, orders the doors locked, and delegates someone to call emergency services, ushers to watch for the ambulance, and someone to contact another priest to complete the Mass. The congregation is technically not allowed to leave until another priest arrives to finish the Mass, which is why the doors are locked. Obviously the ushers watching for the ambulance and the new priest open the doors to admit emergency services personnel and the new priest.

Now, in the case of the OP, because the Final Blessing has been imparted, the Head Usher still takes charge to get help for the priest, but there is no need to keep the Faithful. The Mass has ended, if their help is not required, they should depart.

Quote:
Once the Eucharistic Prayer is complete the Priest is no longer needed for it to be called a Mass. It has happened twice at my parish. Both time the priest left the alter because a family member ran into the church urging the priest to come and administer last rigthts and a final confession.

Both times our deacons were present and finished up with distributing communion and final blessing.
As I understand, this should not be occuring either. The priest's primary responsibility is to complete the Mass he has started, not to annoint and hear final confession. The priest-celebrant must be the one to read the post Communion Prayer and to give the Final Blessing. The deacons do not have faculty to do these at Mass as they are texts reserved to the priest in the context of a Mass.
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  #11  
Old Jan 12, '09, 3:18 pm
Frosty Frosty is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicMan View Post
Actually, once the Mass starts, the priest's part is not "done" until he imparts the final blessing. Even should he complete the Consecration by consuming the Sacred Species before he is unable to continue, another priest must finish for him. A deacon or lay person cannot come in following the priest's Communion and finish... it must be a priest.

I seem to remember reading either on other threads here or at EWTN that should the priest become physically unable to complete Mass that the Head Usher takes command of the situation, orders the doors locked, and delegates someone to call emergency services, ushers to watch for the ambulance, and someone to contact another priest to complete the Mass. The congregation is technically not allowed to leave until another priest arrives to finish the Mass, which is why the doors are locked. Obviously the ushers watching for the ambulance and the new priest open the doors to admit emergency services personnel and the new priest.

.

A situation like this happened at the parish I grew up in, back in the mid 1960's. At the 10:30 Mass, the pastor genuflected after the words of consecration for the Consecration of the Host and didn't get back up. At first we thought that he just had a moment of dizziness or perhaps a problems with his knees but after a moment of staying in the posture of genuflection, he collapsed right to the floor. My oldest brother was serving that Mass and when he realized that the pastor was indeed very ill, he made a frantic motion to my Father, who was a doctor. Dad was already half out of seat by then and quickly rushed to the altar. There was no phone in the church so one of the other altar boys ran next door to the rectory and called for an ambulance. Thankfully, the fire station from whence came the ambulance was within shouting distance of the church and was there within minutes. The head usher was nowhere to be found in those first critical moments. I expect there are some who will say that my father should not have taken matters into his own hands but his quick actions most likely saved the pastor's life. He had just suffered a massive heart attack and time was of the essence!
The doors were locked and the congregation was asked to stay in their seats by the Mother Superior of the order of nuns who staffed the Catholic Schools in the town. Normally we had three priests in our parish but that particular Sunday, one of the curates was away on vacation and the other was filling in for the priest in a neighbouring town who was ill. We did have a Redemptorist Minor Seminary just on the outskirts of town and a call was put through to ask one of the priests to come and finish the Mass. They were all at their own Mass just then but about half an hour later, one did come and finish our Mass.
While we waited, one of the nuns led us in the Rosary and the choir sang some hymns to fill in the rest of the time. Everyone was very concerned about the pastor and he was in intensive care for several days but he did recover and resumed his ministry. Actually, he only passed away in 2003 at the age of 99.
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  #12  
Old Jan 13, '09, 6:37 am
3Sanctus 3Sanctus is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Frosty, was this a Novus Ordo Mass or was it a TLM Mass?

I don't have any answers here, just wondering...

God bless.
Stephen
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  #13  
Old Jan 13, '09, 7:06 am
Digitonomy Digitonomy is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrDavid96 View Post
In the situation described by the OP, the Mass had already ended (he collapsed right before the recessional), so there's no concern here from a liturgical point of view
It sounds like the priest had completed the final blessing, and he hasn't contradicted anyone on this issue. But when I read it, it also occurred to me that it may have been right before the recessional, but during the final blessing. If the priest celebrant has already done part of the final blessing, is that sufficient, or must the final blessing be completely finished?

"Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing. Lord, we..."
Ker-thunk!
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  #14  
Old Jan 13, '09, 7:12 am
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FrDavid96 FrDavid96 is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digitonomy View Post
It sounds like the priest had completed the final blessing, and he hasn't contradicted anyone on this issue. But when I read it, it also occurred to me that it may have been right before the recessional, but during the final blessing. If the priest celebrant has already done part of the final blessing, is that sufficient, or must the final blessing be completely finished?

"Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing. Lord, we..."
Ker-thunk!
Well, technically, he has to do the final blessing. Maybe he did it once he regained consciousness? I fear that taking this one too far can get us way off track ("what if he only gets as far as the Son?...")
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  #15  
Old Jan 13, '09, 10:42 am
phil8888 phil8888 is offline
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Default Re: Priest unable to finish mass....what to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lorathon View Post
On Sunday the priest saying the Mass collapsed (fainted) right before the recessional. ( Please pray for him - Last I heard he was fine, he just had to spend the night at the hospital for observation.)

So now my questions.

1. If the presiding priest were to collapse or be unable to continue mass what is to be done? Any documentation would be greatly appreciated.

2. If there is no priest to say mass, what is to be done? Our parish has a document to follow if the priest does not show up. I read it and it seems that it follows the mass in whole. Is that OK? I have no clue so just wanted to see if anyone has any documentation regarding these things.
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