Do priests ever celebrate mass on their own?

I was wondering, does a priest celebrate a daily mass on his own sometimes when he doesn’t have time to do a full out service at his parish? I’ve heard of seminarians do a mass inclusive of them and their spiritual director only, but I was wondering if this is applicable to the individual also.

Priests can and do celebrate Mass alone. Any priest that celebrates Mass daily will typically say Mass alone if they don’t have a scheduled Mass, or are on vacation, or whatever.
Seminarians certainly do not say Mass at all unless they are ordained to the priesthood! But they might say “practice Masses” that are not valid Masses.

In the good old times every priest celebrated Masses every day. If you check old churches where the original architecture were not destroyed, they are several side altars. The Masses at the main altar were scheduled from 6 to 9 every half our, but there were masses at the side altars too. People and priests believed that the Mass have value in itself, and the priest celebrate it with Christ, not in his own.

This is very interesting what you have said. And I can say that I sufficiently agree. Masses are celebrated “in persona Christi” and a priest is not “alone” and he is not in the center in the liturgy. He doesn’t do that for his own sake.

But Catholic priests can celebrate a Mass alone. In Orthodox churches only a hieromonk (a monk ordained for a priest) can celebrate a liturgy alone.
During the Easter Triduum masses cannot be celebrated without people.

“Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.” (from Summorum Pontificum)

In reality, a priest never celebrates a Mass “alone.” All of the angels and saints in heaven are there.

A priest might celebrate Mass without a congregation, though.

If a priest celebrates mass without a congregation or servers present, how does he pronounce the words of consecration, for example? Can he ‘whisper’ them, ‘think’ them, or must they be said at various volumes depending on the prayers? What about verse-response such as “The Lord be with you”? Are those omitted? How can the Preface to the Canon proceed without anyone to respond? :stuck_out_tongue:

These Masses were not celebrated alone, they had servers.

This is quite interesting. I know of a church (actually a chapel, that I think used to be a seminary) that has side along the side of the church, all the way to the back. Each of them is in it’s own little niche in the wall (probably 10 ft by 10 ft sections, with three walls, and the 4th open to the rest of the church). In all, there’s about 25 altars in this chapel, which is no bigger than a medium-small parish church! I wish I had pictures of it to post.

When I said that a priest can celebrate the Eucharist alone I meant without a congregation.
We are never alone… Always are guardian angels with us. :slight_smile:

Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but within the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches a priest can never celebrate a Divine Liturgy alone. If “liturgy” is the “work of the people” and Christ is present where “two or three are gathered together in [His] Name,” how could a priest possibly serve the Liturgy alone? If a priest acts “in Persona Christi” and Christ was the one being sacrificed and making the sacrifice as the Great High Priest on the altar that is the cross, then without other people at the Liturgy/Mass for whom is the sacrifice being offered in behalf of?

I am very surprised to hear that priests can celebrate Holy Mass alone in the Roman rite.

The entire Church Triumphant and Church Suffering is present. He is not alone at all. Nor is he the only one benefiting. The Church Suffering is probably most gracious about any mass.

As ByzCath said, the priests did not say these private masses entirely alone (saints and angels notwithstanding), they had a server assisting. There’s a great photo of the practice here:

So then it is not true that a priest MUST celebrate a mass every day?

No, but they may. Even without a server. The Mass is celebrated for/on behalf of the entire church, not only those present.

Well in the OF, who says the responses?

This is a little off topic, so I hope no one minds me asking this question on this thread. May a priest offer Mass in a diocese other than his own if it is private… either completely on their own or with limited attendance (like just for a family). I guess my question is: Is the priest required to get permission from the local ordinary to say a private Mass?

What about a Mass celebrated by a priest without any server but the people is present? Must the priest request for at least one volunteer from the people to serve the Mass?

A server is not required. However, this is an old thread. If we’re going to discuss this, we should have a new thread.

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