Thursday, January 10, 2013
SUNDAY CELEBRATIONS IN THE ABSENCE OF A PRIEST
In 1994 there was a book prepared by the Committee on the liturgy of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and approved for use in the Dioceses of the USA by the NCCB. It is entitled, "Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest."
It is a liturgical book that gives options for parishes when no priest is available on a Sunday. The expectation in the norms of the "General Instruction or Introduction" of this liturgical book is that the bishop be very much involved in the decision making process of the necessity of such a celebration in particular parishes in the absence of a priest on Sunday and that preference be given first to deacons to conduct such celebrations or in their complete absence to qualified and well trained laity.
The preference is that Morning or Evening Prayer be the means by which Sunday Celebrations in the absence of a priest take place. The allowance of Holy Communion from the tabernacle is included in this form.
The second choice is a Liturgy of the Word celebration with Holy Communion. There is also a liturgy for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament by a deacon of course without the distribution of Holy Communion.
The thrust of this liturgical book is that these kinds of celebrations should be very much regulated and a last resort, especially if other priests can be sent to the parish or the parishioners themselves can go to nearby churches that have a priest.
I suspect this is for more rural areas where there in no other close by Catholic Church for people to conveniently attend when they have no priest in their parish on a Sunday.
There is no Liturgical Book and thus no norms for the distribution of Holy Communion in the absence of a priest during the week when no priest is available for daily Mass, although it is quite common in my parish and in one other parish in the city to have them. In my parish it is only for the most rare of circumstances, in the other parish it is a regular occurrence on the pastor's day off which is Friday.
Thus, and I only render an opinion here, and I hope canonists could chime in, since there is no obligation for the laity to attend Mass during the week that there is no need for celebrations in the absence of a priest where Holy Communion is distributed.
However, in lieu of that, in my most humble opinion, there could be Morning or Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours celebrated by a deacon or qualified lay person or even Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament by a deacon in place of a daily Mass.
In other words, there is no consideration given by the bishops of the United States of America that Holy Communion be distributed at Communion Services during the week when a priest is not available for Mass. This consideration is only given to Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest.
Am I wrong and do I need to adjust my most humble opinion in this regard?