Sunday Celebration of the Word

Our pastor has been in another parish for the past two Sundays so we’ve had Sunday Celebrations of the Word with Distribution of Communion (the official title in Canada). This is going to happen much more in the next couple of months since he will be away to other parishes on a regular basis.

The first week we did a sprinkling rite, which is included in the official ritual book for this Liturgy. Some people were apoplectic, one walked out and never returned. I don’t understand this.

Then there was offense taken at the Communion Rite when the EMHC raised the Host and said “Behold the Lamb of God…”, again part of the ritual as written.

Today, though, as I sat there waiting for my turn to read, I took a good look at how the set up for this Liturgy was done, by the Pastor himself incidentally.

The presidential chair was pushed out of the way and two other chairs for the two leaders of prayer were put in its place. This to me was very bad symbolically since it said that rather than feel the absence of the Pastor and miss him, we just shove him out of the way and take over, no problem.

In the General Intercessions I had put a prayer for vocations. “For vocations to the priesthood so that these Sunday Celebrations of the Word become unnecessary, we pray to the Lord.” People took offense to this also, and I was told to leave out the entire section about the Sunday Celebrations of Word because it made them seem meaningless. Doesn’t it do just the opposite, recognize that they are necessary because we have a lack of vocations??

Down here in our Diocese we call them “Communion Services” and I don’t attend them. They do not fulfill the Mass requirement. So if no Mass is available within a reasonable driving distance (for me thats under 125 miles) then I cannot attend.

Our priest was away today, so we had a Sunday Celebration of the Word. It’s definitely does not compare to the Mass.

While I know they don’t fulfill the obligation I think it’s important for the community to gather on Sundays to worship God. If it were left up to me we would have LOTH instead, but it’s not left up to me.

From the 1988 Directory of Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest:
“38. When a deacon presides at the celebration, he acts in accord with his ministry in regard to the greetings, the prayers, the gospel reading and homily, the giving of communion, and the dismissal and blessing. He wears the vestments proper to his ministry, that is, the alb with stole, and, as circumstances suggest, the dalmatic. He uses the presidential chair.
40. The lay leader wears vesture that is suitable for his or her function or the vesture prescribed by the bishop. [34] He or she does not use the presidential chair, but another chair prepared outside the sanctuary. [footnote 35: See GILH, no. 258: DOL 426, no. 3688.]” (My bold text.)

“GILH” is the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours. “DOL” refers to Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1982, ISBN 0-8146-1281-4. This is a book that includes the GILH.

Footnote 35 is referring to: “258. In the absence of a priest or deacon, the one who presides at the office is only one among equals and does not enter the sanctuary or greet and bless the people.”

Regarding intentions, from the Directory:
“44. The general intercessions are to follow an established series of intentions. [Footnote 37: See General Instruction of the Roman Missal, nos. 45-47 …] Intentions for the whole diocese that the bishop may have proposed are not to be omitted. There should also often be intentions for vocations to sacred orders, for the bishop, and for the pastor.”

My copy of the Directory is: Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, 2 June 1988, Congregation for Divine Worship, published by USCCB, ISBN 1555862519.

We don’t have a deacon – there are none in my diocese.

this actually was correct, no the assisting ministers should not use the presidential chair. It did not need to be moved, but if it was, it was probably to prevent that from happening.

get used to it folks, until Catholics stop contracepting and preventing the birth of the men God has intented for the priesthood, this will become the norm in many places.

If you know this is going to be common for your parish for whatever reason, best start researching other options and nearby parishes if you want Mass on Sunday.

I certainly would never seat anyone in the presidential chair. But IMNSHO it should be in its regular place, prominently empty. The lay leaders should sit somewhere away from it. Shoving it to the back of the sanctuary and putting another chair in its place just says “no problem replacing the pastor”.

I agree, but I’d also add that the other problem here is putting the lay leaders chairs in the Sanctuary, because that’s exactly where they should not be seated. They should be sitting with the rest of the congregation because they are a part of the congregation. It sounds like the priest here was well-intentioned in removing the presider’s chair. There is less “no problem replacing the pastor” attitude by using a different chair than there would be by having someone actually sitting in the presider’s chair–that would be much worse.

We should also give the priest credit for having 2 lay-leaders rather than one; thereby doing what the ritual calls for. One person leading the service has more potential to say “replacing the priest” than 2 people, because neither one does everything as a priest would do at Mass.

It sounds to me like the priest here is on the right track. The only issue I see is that of seating the lay leaders in the Sanctuary.

And Phemie, you’re spot-on in your petition praying for vocations so that SCAP won’t be necessary in the future. How can anyone be opposed to praying for priestly vocations, and praying for the opportunity to attend Sunday Mass??? What’s happened to us?

I was under the impression that if a priest is gone it DOES fill the Sunday obligation. This has been done in our two parishes that we attend regularly. Can you show me a link to where this is stated that it does NOT fulfill the obligation? In both parishes, people are only about 20-60 miles from the next nearest parish, so if this does not fulfill the obligation, then **I **feel I have an obligation to share this with our priests.

If there’s no available Mass, there’s no obligation. The obligation is to go to Mass, and if that can’t be done then you are not obligated to do anything in particular (e.g., go to a Sunday celebration in the absence of a priest, pray the Liturgy of the Hours), though it would surely be nice if you did so.

Maybe you could please everybody by changing the prayer to this:

“For vocations to the priesthood.” or “For increase in vocations to the priesthood.”

and leave out the latter part of your original prayer. That way, you offer the intention without the “offensive” commentary. The important thing is to pray the actual intention.

Let’s not let this important prayer get lost in the squabble.

[quote=Canon Law]Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Obligation is for Mass.

[quote=Canon 1248 con’t]§2. If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.

The The Liturgy of the Word is recommended IF the obligation cannot be fulfilled.

Phemie, maybe the parish should read and ponder this section from Sacramentum Caritatis:

Sunday assemblies in the absence of a priest

  1. Rediscovering the significance of the Sunday celebration for the life of Christians naturally leads to a consideration of the problem of those Christian communities which lack priests and where, consequently, it is not possible to celebrate Mass on the Lord’s Day. Here it should be stated that a wide variety of situations exists. The Synod recommended first that the faithful should go to one of the churches in their Diocese where the presence of a priest is assured, even when this demands a certain sacrifice. (211) Wherever great distances make it practically impossible to take part in the Sunday Eucharist, it is still important for Christian communities to gather together to praise the Lord and to commemorate the Day set apart for him. This needs, however, to be accompanied by an adequate instruction about the difference between Mass and Sunday assemblies in the absence of a priest. The Church’s pastoral care must be expressed in the latter case by ensuring that the liturgy of the word – led by a deacon or a community leader to whom this ministry has been duly entrusted by competent authority – is carried out according to a specific ritual prepared and approved for this purpose by the Bishops’ Conferences. (212) I reiterate that only Ordinaries may grant the faculty of distributing holy communion in such liturgies, taking account of the need for a certain selectiveness. Furthermore, care should be taken that these assemblies do not create confusion about the central role of the priest and the sacraments in the life of the Church. The importance of the role given to the laity, who should rightly be thanked for their generosity in the service of their communities, must never obscure the indispensable ministry of priests for the life of the Church. (213) **Hence care must be taken to ensure that such assemblies in the absence of a priest do not encourage ecclesiological visions incompatible with the truth of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition. Rather, they should be privileged moments of prayer for God to send holy priests after His own heart. It is touching, in this regard, to read the words of Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 1979 about those places where the faithful, deprived of a priest by a dictatorial regime, would meet in a church or shrine, place on the altar a stole which they still kept and recite the prayers of the eucharistic liturgy, halting in silence “at the moment that corresponds to the transubstantiation,” as a sign of how “ardently they desire to hear the words that only the lips of a priest can efficaciously utter.” **(214) With this in mind, and considering the incomparable good which comes from the celebration of the Eucharist, I ask all priests to visit willingly and as often as possible the communities entrusted to their pastoral care, lest they remain too long without the sacrament of love.

It may give these folks food for thought.

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