Celebrating Mass in Someone's Home?

Is it appropriate to celebrate Mass in my home with our local parish priest and our usual
prayer gathering of 10 parishioners on a Friday evening during Lent?

In general, yes. Priests may celebrate Mass in a private home. The local bishop is expected to regulate this, and he may prohibit it, although most do not (which means that by default, it’s permitted). If any such regulation exists in your diocese, the priest would be aware of it–again, most of the time this is not prohibited. Most bishops delegate to the individual priests the decision as to what constitutes a “dignified place.” As long as this is not something happening on a regular basis, the bishop’s permission is not needed.

Fr. David, what would your reading be, then, of this provision in Redemptionis Sacramentum:

  1. The Place for the Celebration of Holy Mass
    [108.] “The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise. In this case the celebration must be in a decent place”.197 The diocesan Bishop shall be the judge for his diocese concerning this necessity, on a case-by-case basis.

The way I have read it is that it really should not be done. I have always been leery about “home Masses” because, having attended some in my younger days, it just didn’t feel right, even though the intention at my small Christian community Mass was for the repose of the soul of my mother who had just died at that time.

Two points:

  1. If the celebration occurs regularly let’s say once a month or even more, then it should be referred to the bishop. This would be the case for example in mission areas where a new parish is being established but there is no church building yet available. It would also apply if it’s a large public celebration, or one intended for a specific group (again on a regular basis).

To have an occasional Mass in a private home (perhaps once during Lent) many bishops have particular law which says that this sort of thing is permitted without further inquiry. In my own case, my letter of faculties specifically allows me to permit this (delegated authority from the bishop) for a particular occasion. I imagine that most other diocese have similar particular law because I do know for a fact that the situation is similar in many other dioceses which I’ve visited and from conversations. In some areas for example it’s very popular to have Mass in the parish cemetery on Memorial day. One Mass once a year wouldn’t require the bishop’s permission on the condition that the bishop allows the pastor of the place to use his own better judgment. Another example might be a youth group camping trip with Mass in the great outdoors. So long as the setting is dignified this could happen on occasion. The important point to remember here is that bishops delegate this decision to the pastor of the place or to the individual priest. It’s not a matter of ignoring the law, but rather one of a delegated authority to make the decision.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :
“32. Special celebrations of Mass should observe the guidelines established for them: For
Masses with special groups, cf. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Instruction Actio
pastoralis, on Masses with special groups, 15 May 1969: AAS 61 (1969), pp. 806-811;”

This 1969 Instruction has: "4. The faculty of allowing a eucharistic celebration for special groups to take place outside a place of worship is reserved to the local Ordinary or, for his own houses, to the Ordinary of religious. But, especially when it is a question of private homes or institutions, they are to grant this faculty only if the place is suitable and decent. [footnote 3: See GIRM n. 253 …] A bedroom is always excluded. [footnote 4: See Paul VI, Motu Proprio Pastorale munus, 30 Nov. 1963, * no. 7 … . Secretariat of State, Pontifical Rescript Cum admotae, 6 Nov. 1964, no. 4. …]" (From Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1982, ISBN 0-8146-1281-4, page 673).

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.