A valid and licit Mass?

Is it valid and licit for a parish priest to say a private Mass on a Sunday, after scheduled Masses, for a couple who want to privately (with only family and close friends present) renew their marriage vows during that Mass? Their wedding vows were made without having a Mass because of his parents’ objection to the marriage. He converted to the Catholic Church after 36 years of marriage.

It depends upon just what you’re asking. Was this couple married by a Catholic priest (or deacon) 36 years ago? or are you asking about a convalidation where the couple was married by a justice of the peace or a protestant minister, and only now are being married in the Church?

If you’re asking about strictly a renewal of vows (they’re already married in the Church), then there’s nothing you’ve described that would make it illicit (certainly not invalid). Keep in mind though that a priest is limited to 2 Masses on Sunday (3 with the bishop’s permission), and a 4th would not be a licit thing for him to do.

Our parish Church has 10 Masses every Sunday and only 3 priests.

Why would you think that it would be wither illicit or invalid for any priest to say a private Mass? the reason for it is irrelevant. If the priest has not already offered the number of Masses he is allowed to for that day (as Fr. David indicated), there is nothing wrong. Any priest could do this.

I do not understand why you would be disturbed by this.

Every Mass is a Liturgy, public prayer of the Church. This Mass does not have to be publicized or announced, but nothing would prohibit any Catholic from walking in and participating if they happen by. No one should go running up and say “this is a private Mass, get out of here!”

That’s good to know. I don’t have to feel so awkward sitting in the back of the church when my daughter is serving at a wedding mass anymore.

I am sure your Bishop is well aware of this. He has either arranged for a priest from a neighboring parish to help out, or he has given permission for the extra Masses. Hopefully your parish is praying hard for an increase in priestly vocations – especially since you probably have a large population of boys and men with such a huge parish. :smiley:

are you speaking of a convalidation? then yes it could be done the same as it would for any other couple getting married. If you mean renewing their vows, there is really no such liturgical rite, which does not mean they could not celebrate the anniversary of their valid marriage in the context of Mass. btw there is no such thing as a private Mass. Even when the priest celebrates alone in his residence it is still public liturgy of the Church. nobody can be barred from a Mass celebrated in any church or oratory, whether for a wedding, funeral or any other purpose.

Unless it is held on private property.

A Mass at a Church though is a public Mass as you state.

I would think that any priest would have to have a very serious reason to celebrate Mass on private property instead of in the Church.

Plenty of chapels are on private property: schools, hospitals, large family estates, religious communities, etc. Only people with permission to be on the property would be able to attend a Mass held in such a location.

If that private property is not open to the faithful, it borders on illicit.

So, Mass on a a military base – pretty much illicit?

Some of these are streching it. Mass at School would most likely be a Catholic school, all the ones I know of do not bar a Catholic from attending a school mass, you generally just sit in the back. Hospitals are open to the general public, I used to stop by the noon Mass at Duke University Hospital, it was open to the public. Most Religious Communities welcome visitors. Private estate chapel, why is that necessary?

That’s splitting hairs isn’t it? If you can’t get on base, everything on base is restricted. But if you have access to the base, you certainly can attend a mass in a military chapel.

*Can. 932 §1 The eucharistic celebration is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise; in which case the celebration must be in a fitting place. *

Based on this Canon, I would think that licit Masses on private property are quite rare.

Religious houses are private property.

I also know of some private prayer groups who have a chapel where they have priests celebrate the Mass for their group when they have special meetings.

Again, religious houses. Our daily Mass is not open to the public.

You are reading into the Canon, the canon says nothing about the licity of Masses on private property that are not open to the general public.

Many private groups have chapels that can be considered a “sacred place”. Some even reserve the Eucharist (such as religious houses).

Religious houses would be one of the “rare” sacred places to which the Canon refers.
The nearest religious house to where I live is more than one hundred miles away.

It’s worth repeating that religious communities chapels are usually dedicated sacred space.

Many houses, however, will let members of the faithful in for mass, if they ask ahead of time, and are not a cloistered order.

And cloistered orders often have provisions for outsiders in the chapel.

The houses of religious communities are pretty much like military bases: if you’re allowed access at all, you’re allowed to attend mass.

I don’t disagree that there are some places like this, I said MOST Religious Houses and Religious Orders will welcome visitors.

Masses celebrated by a priest who has permission to celebrate Mass from the local Bishop (or equivelant) are valid and licit.

You are trying to point out the .01% exception of my general statement. Any Mass celebrated in a local parish church is always open to the faithful, which was the basis of the original question.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.