Masses. How Many

How many Masses may a R.C. priest say in one weekend.

Three, but the Bishop may allow the priest to say more if necessary. In my parish, we have seven Masses on the weekend (we are a large parish), and until we got a third in-residence priest, one of the other two was saying 4 Masses if they could not find a substitute.

The one question I have is does that extend from Saturdays into Sundays?

For example, a priest does one Mass on Saturday night. Then he does three on Sunday. Good or no good?

Can.* 905 §1. A priest is not permitted to celebrate the Eucharist more than once a day except in cases where the law permits him to celebrate or concelebrate more than once on the same day.

§2. If there is a shortage of priests, the local ordinary can allow priests to celebrate twice a day for a just cause, or if pastoral necessity requires it, even three times on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

Can. 202 §1. In law, a day is understood as a period consisting of 24 continuous hours and begins at midnight unless other provision is expressly made;

I’m gonna have to say a big no good. After 4p.m on Saturdays it is considered the Sabbath until 11:59p.m. that following Sunday. So, technically it is all “one day” meaning that only 3 Masses throughout that weekend.

Canon 202 specifies the enumeration of the day. It is a 24 hour day from midnight to midnight. So, your interpretation is not consistent with the law.

The anticipated Mass fulfilling the obligation is completely unrelated.

The Latin may have something different. (There was a clause in the twice-a-day communion I wasn’t aware of.) I think we need Fr. David to clarify.

Canon 202 talks about the timeline of what a Day is, not what a Liturgical day is or when the Sabbath starts.

Canon 1248 §1 The obligation of assisting at Mass **is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in **a catholic rite either on a holy-day itself or **on the evening of the previous day. **

By definition, evening in Jewish law was a couple of hours before sundown, which the Church has come to recognize as 4 P.M.

Of what part of the canon are you unsure?

Can. 905 — § 1. Exceptis casibus in quibus ad normam iuris licitum est pluries eadem die Eucharistiam celebrare aut concelebrare, non licet sacerdoti plus semel in die celebrare.

§ 2. Si sacerdotum penuria habeatur, concedere potest loci Ordinarius ut sacerdotes, iusta de causa,


in die, immo, necessitate pastorali id postulante, etiam


in diebus dominicis et festis de praecepto, celebrent.

*Bis *means “twice”, *ter * means “three times”.


Yes, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is satisfied either on the day or the evening before. I am not disputing that in the least.

That has nothing to do with how many masses a celebrant may offer in one day. Entirely different canons-- namely the two I provided-- govern the question the OP asked.

Tee, I’ll take your word for it. :slight_smile:

Eadem die is eadem die.

Cardinal Tagle once mentioned in an interview that his “First Mass” (the day after his priestly ordination) were actually 7 Masses.

Example from 2012, with the permission from the bishop for shortage of priests:

*]Saturday, December 8, 2012 - Immaculate Conception – 3 times
*]Sunday, December 9, 2012 - Advent Second Week – 3 times
Both the liturgical day and calendar day are midnight to midnight. Saturday is anticipated on Friday evening, and Sunday is anticipated on Saturday evening.

The anticipated thing throws me off. So does a Saturday evening Mass count towards a priests Sunday allotment?

And monsignor liked to remind us that on All Souls Day and Christmas he could offer three Masses.

In fact, my missal has a first, second and third Mass of Christmas with different readings for each one. I think on All Souls Day it’s the Requiem Mass three times.

Apparently not. But, in any case, it looks like it’s a bishop’s call to allow more than 2 Masses per Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Or any other day of the week, for that matter.

There is no such thing as an “anticipated” Mass. That’s an antiquated term that applied under the 1917 Code of Canon Law. People will sometimes still use it, but it’s a misleading and entirely inaccurate term. The Saturday evening Mass does not “anticipate” Sunday—it is Sunday. See the letter from Bl John Paul II called Dies Domini. He puts the term “anticipated” firmly to rest. He specifically says that it is not the anticipated (pre-festive) Mass of Sunday, but it is the Mass of Sunday because Sunday has already begun. Given that he was the one who promulgated the 1983 Code, he was in the best position of anyone to clarify what he meant.

As for the question of how a priest counts his weekend Masses to avoid violating the canon of no more than 2 Masses a day (3 with permission, or 4 by dispensation), it’s really a moot point for priests in the U.S. today. We simply do what we have to do. If the parish has 5 weekend Masses, and there’s one priest, then he says 5 Masses.

The canon is in place to protect priests from being overworked. One of the original principles was that a priest could not accept too many stipends, but the rule of one stipend per day makes that irrelevant. Priests aren’t saying 5 Sunday Masses because we want to, but because we need to.

The unfortunate reality is that for many priests, if we were to insist on following the Mass limit, some of God’s people would not be able to attend Mass. The good of souls takes priority.

I do remember reading something from Rome about this…I remember it, but I cannot provide a specific reference.

The rule is 1 Mass on a weekday, or 2 on Sundays.

The canon allows the bishop to give permission for 2 weekday and 3 Sunday. The key word is permission.

That much is a given. It’s clear from the law.

Probably, every bishop in the US gives that permission automatically. Can’t prove it, but I’ll bet on it any day of the week.

The bishop can dispense from the canon, and go beyond permission, to allow for more Masses. The clarification that came from Rome is that he can dispense to allow for 1 more Mass each day, for a total of 3 weekday or 4 Sunday (or other Solemnity). If I can find the reference, I’ll get back here and post it.

Should I take it from your handle that you’re a priest?

Coming from a priest then, what would you call the anticipatory or Saturday evening Mass? I won’t go around correcting everybody but I’d like to know.

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