Licit and Validity

To go with the homemade, unleaved pita bread. :stuck_out_tongue:

In addition to Masses, other sacraments can also be illicit and also invalid. Marriage is one, since the Church provides rules which govern the faithful geing married. A Catholic who marries a baptized Protestant in a Catholic church without the permission of the ordinary may have a valid Mass, but it is not licit since Catholics must have the permission of the ordinary to be married licitly. A Catholic marrying a non-baptized person w/o said permission attempts marriage invalidly regardless of who the officiant is and in what location. I assume that enough has been already said in regard to marriage validity/licitness on this forum so I’ll say nothing more on this topic.

Also, if a bishop ordained me to the priesthood with the proper form but without sending me to the seminary, I would be validly ordained but illicitly. If he tampered with the ordination formula such that the gift of Holy Orders is not conferred, I would be both illicitly and invalidly ordained, meaning I am not a priest but still a layman----just like if the bishop laid his hands on me----and started reciting what he ate yesterday.

Paul R. Viola

Perhaps I should have used the subjunctive and said “… may bear on the liceity …”

The question really goes back to what has been discussed at some length in several other threads (that I don’t have the wherewithal right now to search for): what about the “additives” in wine? These usually include additional sugar and/or yeast, and canon law is rather oblique about it (emphasis added):

Can. 924 §1. The most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.

§2. The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling.

§3. The wine must be natural from the fruit of the vine and not spoiled.

In theory (at least) sacramental wine is made without added sugar or yeast, using only the sugar and yeast that naturally occur in (and on) grapes. At the same time, though, both sugar and yeast are themselves “natural substances” so whether the addition of one or both to wine renders it “non-sacramental” still seems to be an open question.

Yes, with a note: in the West, leavened bread is valid but illicit, but following the above canon, it still must be without additives. So, e.g., “Wonder Bread” and “Seven Grain Bread” would not be acceptable. (The same is, of course, true with unleavened bread: for one example, unleavened loaves that are made with honey are not acceptable either.)

In the East and Orient, leavened bread is used by most but not all Churches. For example, the Maronites and Chaldeans (and possibly the Armenians) use unleavened bread. Some contend that this practice is a “latinization” while others point to ancient sources for its origin. Strong arguments can be (and are) made by both sides of that debate. Without going into any of those arguments, liceity (in Western terms), depends on the Particular Law and practice of the various Churches. In any case, though, whether leavened or unleavened as is called for by any Particular Church, the bread must be without additives (except, perhaps, salt) in order to be “valid matter” (to again use Western terms).

What is our responsibility? It seems we must avoid any invalid attempts to confer a sacrament.(eg baptism with beer) But if we perceive some illicit acts, should we leave even though the sacrament will be valid???

Some people on these forums have, but I generally recommend against it. Try to find a more reverent liturgy for next week.

I’m not a spiritual director, but I’ll do my best to answer your question.

First of all, it’s a tough one. The sacrament, if it is valid, is making present the grace of our Lord; in the case of the Eucharist, it’s making present the Author of grace Himself. So a valid sacrament should not be denigrated.

But there is the risk of scandal. An observer could think that if I receive Communion at a Mass with dancing girls, a homily given by a mime troupe, lay people “concelebrating” with the priest, and a made-up Eucharistic Prayer (which nevertheless contains the proper words of consecration), I am actually supportive and condoning the illicit acts at that Mass, and be scandalized. They might wonder if those illicit acts are actually illicit after all.

I will simply give you my standard operating procedure: once I have “seen enough” of a priest doing something inappropriate at Mass, I will stop attending Masses celebrated by that priest. I won’t leave Mass, but I won’t return. Being there negatively affects my spiritual state and makes it very hard for me to be prayerful. I will try, with charity and respect, to talk to the priest about what goes on at Mass, but that doesn’t always work. Pray for the priest.

And, if necessary, do what you can to avoid scandal.

Excellent advice. We also have to remember that our obligation is to attend Mass, not necessarily to receive communion. So I would also stay even if I chose not to receive at that Mass. Then, like SpiritHound, I would find a more reverent Mass for the next Sunday.

There aren’t that many places in the US where the Mass is so irreverent (mimes, etc.) and Mass by another priest who does things correctly is not available. What is much more common is just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Mass with perhaps a ‘blooper’ or two, lackadaisical parishioners in their jeans who forgot to turn off their cell phones, and bad music. That Mass would be neither illicit or invalid, just sad.

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