I would ask my Catholic friends to please put the validity of Anglican orders to the side for this exercise-
Our Congregation is interested in taking “the Mass to the People” -actually the Vestry is interested -many of the faithful are stunned-I was under the impression that the Consecration of the Eucharist had to be done at an Altar in a Church unless there was War or persecution
What is correct? -the thought of having a Mass at the Beach while dodging hoards of Baptists undergoing full immersion while planes trail banners is just horrifying-am I wrong?
If the Eucharist had to be consecrated at an altar in a church, then military Catholic chaplains would be unable to administer the sacraments to soldiers on a battlefield.
It is permissible for a Catholic priest with valid reason to bring God to the people by conducting the mass outside of a church. The pope does so every time he holds mass in a stadium, or even on the patio in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Catholic masses are validly held on a lawn, in a gym, in a recreation area common room, on a cruise ship, on the beach, in a hospital room, and even in a war zone.
You may be confusing this permission with the restriction on marriage ceremonies. Catholic weddings need to be held in a church because the couple is bringing themselves before God, and not the other way around. Catholics who wish to have their wedding conducted outside of a Catholic church need permission from the bishop.
In older days (well, not that long ago, really), a priest who wanted to serve Mass on an unconsecrated altar (which would usually just be a table I guess) had to bring an altar stone, which contained relics. This was to my knowledge however not a matter of validity, but of liceity. Plus, some of the prayers simply didn’t make sense if there were no relics present.
However, even then, outdoor Mass absolutely happened, and not just in case of war. There is nothing illegitimate about it. Though reverence should always be taken into consideration - the times I’ve taken part in them, they’ve also been in areas where no interference (like beach balls) could be reasonably expected.
Didn’t Pope Francis celebrate mass on a beach when he went to South America? Of course, he likes to do things that sometimes make waves, no pun intended, to wake people up and get them talking about the sacraments.
I understand your concern. While Mass may be celebrated outside the four walls of a Church building, the venue should be blessed with holy water (an exorcism, really) and it should be a place with no undue distractions. While it is done, it is always the exception.
Mass can be celebrated in a house or hospital room, outside under the trees [like at youth retreats]. I even participated in a Mass on a busy street in front of an induction center during the Vietnam War.
As long as there is an altar with a corporal on it you are fine. It’s done all the time in Catholicism especially for big events like the pope or world youth day. Most big masses at the Vatican are done outside the Bascilica.