[quote="juicekman, post:4, topic:177222"]
A number of us are living at one of the houses that this religious order owns, but none of us are part of the order. It is called a "discernment house." All of us are paying rent to live here. He maintains that all of us can attend his "private mass," even though he has not received sacramental faculties from the diocese or even applied for them. From what I have read it seems that the definition of "private mass" is a mass with only the priest and possibly an altar server, not with 50 or less people as he maintains.
If you reply to this can you please site some support for your answer? (Code of Canon law, etc.) I have already received too many conflicting opinions, I need some solid facts.
I might be able to quote the canons, but before I go looking, I need to know a little more about the situation, and still a little more about what you're asking.
The first question I have is this: does this priest indeed have faculties to celebrate Mass from his own ordinary? I understand that he doesn't have them from the local bishop, but I don't know whether or not he has them to begin with--do you know?. The fact that he hasn't applied to the local bishop might be cause for concern--it may very well mean nothing at all, but on the other hand, it may mean that he knows he would be refused, or even that the bishop couldn't grant him faculties even if he wanted to. Is he even a Catholic priest? Are you sure he's a genuine Catholic priest and not just someone calling himself that? I'm not asking this to be accusatory--so don't think that's what I mean. He may be a perfectly legitimate Catholic priest, and part of a perfectly legitimate order--but I'm saying that I don't know.
There is no such thing as a "private Mass"--that's just a colloquialism, although there's nothing wrong with using it sometimes. I can tell you that there is no such provision in canon law which says that a priest can have up to 50 people at Mass before he informs the local bishop. The term "private Mass" is sometimes used to describe a Mass said by the priest alone or with just one altar boy--that much is true, but that's actually taking us off-topic.
If that priest is indeed acting entirely within the law when he celebrates Mass in his own "discernment house," then there is nothing prohibiting a Catholic person from attending that Mass if he does so completely of his own volition.
Since you are already living in the building, and you know the Mass is happening, you're free to attend without any reservations. The only time this would be a problem would be if that particular priest was specifically told by his own bishop that he is only permitted to celebrate Mass if no one else is present (in other words, if the priest is suspended), or if the local bishop has outright denied him the faculties to celebrate a Mass attended by anyone else within that diocese. Either or both of those are unlikely but not impossible.
My concern here is that there's some kind of situation where the bishop might have said "don't bother applying because I'll deny you" and this priest responded by simply not applying, so that he could later say "I was never refused." I do hope that is not the case here. It's the lack of information which causes me to be concerned. Legitimate religious orders are usually quite open and frank about what they're doing. I am getting the impression, and again hope I'm wrong, that this community is somehow operating "in secret" and that causes me to worry.
Can you say anything more about this community or this house of formation/discernment?
If you're not comfortable sharing details, at least know this: if the priest is legitimate, and has faculties from his own bishop to celebrate Mass in public, and he has not been denied that by the local bishop, then there is nothing wrong with you voluntarily attending his Mass. The number 50 means nothing here.
On another note, please do answer this one: what sort of "conflicting information" have you been given? Perhaps there's a misunderstanding there. For example I can say that the statement "as long as there aren't 50 people, it's kosher" is not true--but it's untrue because there's no such threshold of 50, not because people can't attend.