Licit and Validity

What is the difference between the two? I hear a lot about masses being “illicit,” but still valid. Can anyone explain this to me?

Thanks

Valid = real, true

Licit = lawful, legal

So what is the significance of, say, a mass being illicit?

The word “licit” in Catholic circles means “in a lawful manner.” For instance, I cannot pose as a priest. I have not been ordained by canon law and Sacred Tradition. Thus, my act would be unlawful, or illicit.

The word “valid” means to have the proper form, matter or authority in relation to Church affairs. For instance, a marriage between two previously unmarried Catholics who have been given sufficient training and counseling before their nuptial Mass in a parish would result in a validly created marriage.

But a similar marriage between two Catholics where the couple fails to be married in a Catholic parish and with a priest per canon law may still be legal in the eyes of the civil government but an invalid marriage per Catholic canon law, for one must be married by Church rules in Catholic facilities unless a dispensation is given.

Not all illicit things are invalid. If I were to fool a group of people into taking communion from me posing as a priest, my actions would be illicit but the congregation’s fulfillment of the sacrament is not invalid because they were not at fault for what I did.

Hopefully others can clarify or correct my definition if need be. Hope that helps!

Certain things done in the Mass might be illicit, but that doesn’t make the Mass invalid.

A priest inviting a layman to give the “homily” is illicit, but it doesn’t stop the Eucharist from being confected validly.

A priest pouring the Precious Blood from a jug into chalices (instead of distributing the wine into chalices before the consecration) is illicit, and a grave offense against the Blessed Sacrament, but it doesn’t stop the Eucharist from being confected validly.

A Mass celebrated outside (for no pressing need and without permission from the local Bishop) is illicit, but it doesn’t stop the Eucharist from being confected validly.

Now, a priest trying to consecrate Doritos and beer… that stops the Eucharist from being confected validly.

Certainly not a valid or licit communion, but certainly tasty and satisfying from a worldly view, not to mention a humorous image. :slight_smile:

since you guys brought it up

what if the matter of a sacrament is invalid but the people are unaware? like regular everyday wine not valid for the Eucharist is used by the priest. and how does its invalidity affect the people who are receiving it “in good faith”

Their faith doesn’t make something that’s not a sacrament into a sacrament. But I would hope and pray that God does not hold them accountable for their expectation that they are receiving a valid Eucharist, when, unbeknownst to them, the priest has prevented that from being the case.

I suppose humor, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. However, I was not amused to see little fish shaped cheese crackers being handed out of the ciborium to the kids at my sister’s parish.
:frowning:
I am still kicking myself in the posterior for not walking out then and there.

yeah. i mean, we all do expect all priests to know the right thing to do. but then again, with a long list of liturgical abuses, i won’t be surprised is some priest somewhere is violating this. perhaps he himself doesn’t realize he’s doing something thats not valid. or perhaps the circumstance called for it, like if the priest were saying a special mass somewhere and on the way to that far away place realized he forgot to bring the wine and decided to improvise

reminded me when i was in elementary catholic school and we were practicing for First Communion. we used these biscuits that were round.

thinking back, wouldn’t it have been better if we used Communion wafers instead? (and by saying Communion wafers, i mean the bread before being consecrated)

I think “regular everyday wine” is perfectly valid for the Eucharist, isn’t it? It just has to be “from the fruit of the grapevine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances” (GIRM 322), so I’d think any off-the-shelf wine from Two Buck Chuck to Cheval Blanc would do.

Their faith doesn’t make something that’s not a sacrament into a sacrament. But I would hope and pray that God does not hold them accountable for their expectation that they are receiving a valid Eucharist, when, unbeknownst to them, the priest has prevented that from being the case.yeah. i mean, we all do expect all priests to know the right thing to do. but then again, with a long list of liturgical abuses, i won’t be surprised is some priest somewhere is violating this. perhaps he himself doesn’t realize he’s doing something thats not valid. or perhaps the circumstance called for it, like if the priest were saying a special mass somewhere and on the way to that far away place realized he forgot to bring the wine and decided to improvise
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If, e.g., a priest uses a nice pinot noir from the wine shop down the block, in other words, simply a “non-sacramental” grape wine, I believe it bears on liceity but not on validity. The matter itself would be valid.

Not so for sherry or port, which are fortified with spirits. Also not so for apple wine, elderberry wine, pineapple wine, etc, which are obviously made from other than grapes. Similarly not for things like Ripple or Thunderbird which all have flavorings. All of those would be invalid matter.

My favorite secular example of the difference between valid and illicit is what happens when you drive through an intersection when the light is red. Assuming you you don’t have an accident you will have “validly” driven through the intersection because you made it to the other side. But you will have done so “illicitly” because you broke the law in the process.

Validity does not apply to every situation. Validity is a measure of whether or not a sacrament “takes place”. It is also used to describe the form and matter necessary for a valid sacrament.

Something is illicit whenever a law has been broken. Not all laws must be followed in order for something to be valid (just as in my secular example it is possible to cross an intersection even when it is illegal to do so.)

I’ve always assumed, similarly, that a “sacramental” wine was required (for liceity), but on looking I can’t find anything in the GIRM or canon law to support that. Any suggestions?

There are two main questions that people want to ask about liceity and validity of the Mass. First, is the sacrament of the Eucharist valid?, that is, did it take place? If a priest says the correct words, over the correct food, with the correct intention, the sacrament truly happens. Nothing outside of those 4 considerations affects the validity of the sacrament.

The second question is “did I fulfill my Sunday obligation?”. If you are in the church at the time you have a good reason to expect Mass to be at, then no matter how many illicit, or unlawful things happen during the Mass, you have fulfilled your obligation.

It wouldn’t even bear on liceity. With the wine, if it’s valid, it’s licit. For the bread, any wheat bread is valid, but unleavened in the West, leavened in the East.

I would be careful in saying that the congregation did not invalidly fulfill the sacrament. In truth, the congregation has not received the Eucharist if there is no Eucharist.

The reception of the Eucharist by the people does not impact whether or not the Eucharist is valid. The people cannot “fulfill the sacrament”. They can only fulfill (or not fulfill) an obligation to receive the sacrament. And unless this is someone’s last chance to meet his yearly reception the Eucharist there is no obligation to receive.

i would think that most “regular” wines aren’t all-natural and unadulterated. i could be wrong but some of they may have some amount of preservatives or other stuff that would make them invalid matter

It has to meet the alcohol content requirement, be grapes only - no additives. That is it. You could make wine at home to be consecrated at Mass even :thumbsup:

well, home made wine probably wouldn’t have the additives and preservatives that some of the commercial wine would have

unless the priest is a wine expert and would know offhand that the off-the-shelf wine would be valid matter or not

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