A deacon presiding over the whole mass?!?

Hi, I just recently attended a friday service over at my parish. Our Priest was from what I head ‘on vacation’, and so a Deacon from another parish was invited. And so What happened was that HE (the deacon) presidede over the whole ceremony.He just rushed through the Kyrie, and didn’t even say the Gloria. And before I knew it, we were already at the homily (if you could even call it a homily). He talked a little on how this country is founded by the laws of God, and how Our Lady is the Patron saint of this great country. But what he did was he called up 2 people, yeah 2 parishiners up to the altar, and he gave them the American Flag and showed them and us how and why we fold up the flag at military funereals. Did I forget to mention this took up 90% of the homily?

After this he rushed over and saidthe prayer intentions. After that he went over to the tabernacle and grabbed the ciborium, and placing his hand over it he said a prayer, and before I knew it, he said the “Agnus Dei”. So I thought to myself “Oh no, you did not just fiddle your fingers in the ciboruim and grabbed Our Lord like that”. He distributed the ‘concecrated hosts’ and he didn’t even have a moment of silence after he just rushed up said ‘peace be with you’ and blessed us like the priest would.

My questions are:
Was this even valid?
Was this even a mass?
Can a Deacon preside over the whole mass?
What does the Church teach?

It wasn’t a Mass, since only a priest can celebrate a Mass. It was a Communion Service which a Deacon and even a lay person can lead.

Did he actually lead the Agnus Dei, or did he show the Host and say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”?

While they shouldn’t really be held on weekdays but rather held on Sundays when Mass cannot be celebrated, it’s not rare that they are.

Yep, sounds like a Communion Service. This is NOT a Mass, although it is permitted.

Sounds like it. And yes, these are permitted - although they really should only be done on Sundays when there is no available priest.

By the way, the Gloria never IS said on weekdays, or shouldn’t be if my understanding of the rubrics is correct, unless the weekday is also an important feastday. So he was correct to omit it.

Assuming you mean today, today is an optional memorial. There is no Gloria at a weekday Mass (or communion service), unless it is a feast or solemnity. For regular weekdays, optional memorials, or mandatory memorials, the Gloria is not said/sung.

From the sound of it, it looks like you were at a Liturgy of the Word with Distribution of Communion (or in Canada a Celebration of the Word). Basically, not a Mass (no, a Deacon cannot preside over a Mass). I’m not sure if they are allowed to be celebrated in lieu of a daily mass or just on Sundays. 2 Sundays ago I attended one in the small town I am currently working in.

He probably shouldn’t have placed his hand over the ciborium because that is an action reserved to a priest or bishop (heavily implying a consecration). The one I attended was actually laity presided, and as far as I could tell they were reading straight from the rubrics. It does include the distribution of communion that was reserved in the Tabernacle. The part between the prayers of the faithful and distribution of communion is fairly short (from what I remember, sort of a praise/thanksgiving song or something with an antiphon the people say in between verses), which is followed by someone elevating a host and saying “This is the Lamb of God…” (but a bit different from the Mass version). I was impressed that each of the 2 EMHCs gave communion to each other, which is a perfect understanding (it must be received from someone, only the presider or concelebrants can “take”).

It should only be done if there was no Sunday mass available to the people. However, this is still being ignored, or rather slowly changed, in many areas. In past years we have had such a service on the weekdays the priests were on retreat. While it should be led by a deacon if one is available, it is often necessary for a layman, or woman, to lead. This year we did Morning Prayer on the days the priests were away. This is preferred option.

As others have said, this was apparently a Word and Communion service - since you said he got the Hosts from the Tabernacle (previously consecrated).

So no, not a Mass, and so validity is irrelevant. It may or may not have been licit - permitted and done properly for what it was - but validity is not in question, unless the Hosts were not previously consecrated (and thus were really just bread), but that’s extremely unlikely.

No, a Deacon can absolutely never preside at Mass. It’s impossible and would be invalid and a very grave offense. Only a validly ordained priest or bishop can be the celebrant or “presider” for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The only Sacraments that a deacon can validly, licitly do are Baptism (actually administering it) and Matrimony (as the Church’s official witness and presider; the sacrament is administered by the bride and groom to each other).

You have confused this communion service for a mass.

Communion Service. Not a Mass. Only a Priest can “Say the Mass”. Notice he did not consecrate anything. He only distributed Eucharist that had already been Consecrated.
Normal.

How on earth does one remove the lid of a ciborium to distribute communion (and I think a ciborium should always be covered unless communion is being distributed) WITHOUT ‘placing your hand over’ it?

And why would ANYONE say any sort of consecration over a ciborium full of already-consecrated Hosts anyway? It’s totally redundant. The idea that his holding his hand over the ciborium was wrong in any way is bizarre. Maybe if it were some other object, or unconsecrated hosts, or something, you might have a point. :shrug:

Almost certainly he was just having some trouble getting the lid off or something. If he was trying to consecrate he’d surely say the prayers aloud?

There is some concern on my part as to whether or not this should have happened. Please note what Redemptionis Sacramentum states about this particular matter:

[166.]Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, 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. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

In my opinion, these really should not be happening during the week, even if a deacon is leading them.

I thought he was indicating that he had his hand over it while praying, sort of like a EP. Obviously he needs to have his hand over it to open it.

Interesting. In order to serve those who wish to go to communion daily-some parishes have weekday communion services-when a priest is not available. The revised guide to Sunday Service Without a Priest (SCAP) was completed some time ago and is supported by our bishop and other bishops out west. There is no penance part because only a priest should lead the penitential rite-priests in name of Christ forgive sins-deacons can’t… But, a new guide for daily Communion without a priest has not been completed. When our pastor needs time off during the week-the deacon covers several days and a lay person does one day.

was it this friday or the first friday (july 2nd)?

perhaps why a communion service was held because of the devotion to the Sacred Heart which required one to receive for 9 consecutive first fridays. since there can’t be a priest, a Deacon was sent so that those who seek to fulfill the devotion would have received that day

However, again, I refer you to Redemptionis Sacramentum. these should not be happening if the parish has regularly scheduled Sunday Mass. Please re-read the section from RS:

[166.]Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, 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. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

Inasmuch as RS notes that it is the bishop’s exclusive competency, he “must not easily grant permsion for such celebrations to be held on weekdays”, especially if Sunday Mass is celebrated in those places.

Let us remember the OP’s original questions

Yes, with the bishop’s permission, a communion service is “valid”.
No, it is not a Mass.
A Deacon or layperson can preside over a communion service but not a Mass.
The Church teaches that in some circumstances a communion service can be permitted by a Bishop and the leader of such services may be a deacon or layperson.

As I recall the prayer in the penance part was revised to make it clear that even in the mass the Penitential Rite does not forgive sin.

However, the prayer of the penitential rite is not restricted to a priest - strictly speaking, anyone can say it, because it is deprecatory, a petition. Of course one should always follow what the books direct. But in the Divine Office, for example, even a layperson can say "May Almighty God have mercy on us, etc., etc.

When our pastor needs time off during the week-the deacon covers several days and a lay person does one day.

Hmmmmm…I understand priests needing time off…but how long would it take to offer a daily Mass? I mean, this *is *the primary part of their ministry. It seems kindof…wrong, if I can use the word…to have deacons/laypeople hold a communion service simply because its the priest’s off-day.

You’re right, techniclly there should either be Morning Prayer or nothing at all…

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