26 August 2009

Canon Law: the question.

In Summorum pontificum, our Holy Father makes clear in the first Article that any priest may, without any permissions, say a Private Mass whenever he wishes in the Extraordinary Form.

Does "Private Mass" have a legal meaning in terms of the legislation surrounding the current post-conciliar liturgical texts? Or in the current Code of Canon Law?

Does the term "Private Mass", when applied by legislative documents (such as a motu proprio) to the EF, mean what it meant in the official documents of the age when the EF was the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, back in the days of the great Rubricians, the era of O'Connell et al.?

If so, which of the eight different meanings found in those documents does it point to? Or, when there is a lack of specificity in a legal formula, does the subject of the law have the right to the least constricting of the possibilities?*

For Info: O'Connell gives these definitions of "Private Mass", with footnotes pointing to the legislative basis which each has. I simplify:
A Mass in a private place
A Mass neither High nor Sung
A non-conventual Mass
A Mass neither Sung nor Conventual
A Mass not of obligation
A Mass detached from the Liturgy of the Day (e.g. the Palm Sunday Procession)
A Requiem neither sung nor conventual nor 'privileged'
A Votive, whether High, Sung, or Low, celebrated for a cause which is not public and grave

* This sentence is the question which I am most interested in having an informed answer to.

8 comments:

rev'd up said...

I believe the question you have presented, Father, is more than a mere question but a quagmire. Of course, we Anglo Catholics have great liberty to think and act according to conscience; whereas, our Roman Catholic brethren are not at liberty to obey conscience. They are under the tyrannical authority of the Pope, be he heretic or not. And in the case at hand we see that the Pope has chosen very oleaginous words. Indeed, what is a "Private Mass?" The dirty little secret is that "Private Mass" means nothing in the post-conciliar age or more accurately in the post-universal-Papal-authority age. While AC's are free, Papalists must wait for the Pope to dot every "i" and cross every "t" before they can know the mind of the Church, yeah, the mind of Christ. In the coinage of the popular phrase “What would Jesus do?” – well, he would do what the Church, the papal Magisterium, told him to do.

We must first consider the very authority/validity (in the *Traditional* sense, it obviously does not pass Scriptural muster) of so called "Canon Law" which only sprang into being in the early 20th. Century. In short, its purpose was to give parochial clergy a stick to wield against intrusive bishops and vice-versa. Your earlier observation that RC postulants are heavily inculcated in Canon Law is a telling and disturbing point. Canon Law has only come lately to Anglicanism and it came (i.e. slithered) in ape of the Roman Church. Alas, the Church is not evolving but rather devolving. Worse, Canon Law is the institutional church’s Babylonian Talmud – Phariseeism, and run amuck.

The early 20th c. was not only the time of Canon Law and the great rubricists, it was time of hand missal proliferation and "dialogue Masses." All of which laid the underpinnings of Vatican 2 and the new “liturgy” and its unholy “sacramentaries.” Some argue that as these early 20th C. innovations educated and engaged the laity, they were good for Christian formation and strengthened the Church, saved souls. I answer: On the contrary, any fool can see the niggardly and rotten fruit that has fallen from that tree. It is like the untimely fruit of a woman; clouds without rain in a barren and dry land where no water is. Thus, the modern church fails the command to convert the heathen and can’t even hold onto the few souls left.

Our mandate is in Scripture. 1 Corinthians iv.1ff is the entire mandate we need to say the Mass of the ages – high or low, sung or said. The fact that such obedience to the delivered Tradition still meets with violence and, in our times, papal vagaries, validates it.

JamesIII said...

Father,

From my days at Prep School, under the Roman Augustinians, the term "Private Mass" had two generally accepted meanings.

One was a Mass celebrated for a select congregation such as one celebrated for the priest's immediate family and not open to a general congregation.

The second common meaning was that of a "solo" or "sequestered" Mass where only the celebrant was present. This was the habit of the fathers at school and one I always thought was simply non-scriptural. It seems to ignore the very essence of the Eucharist and my feelings are that it approaches the execution of a "superstitious ritual" rather than the intended sacrificial celebration of the sacrament.

Arch Anglo-Catholic said...

Father,
My understanding of Private Mass has always been a mass sine populo but technically Missa privata, and following Vatican II this was replaced by the Mass Without a Congregation.
I would opine that this is the definition of a Private Mass, as opposed to a private Mass and explains the 'freedom' given to the Celebrant Priest in his choice of form for the Sacrifice when no earthly presence assists (with the exception of an acolyte to answer).
"The 1917 Code of Canon Law prescribed: "A priest is not to celebrate Mass without a server to assist him and make the responses." Making explicit the canonical principle that a proportionate cause excuses from an ecclesiastical law, the present Code of Canon Law states: "A priest may not celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice without the participation of at least one of the faithful, unless there is a good and reasonable cause for doing so".
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Curia recognised the difficulty in using a term such as 'private', which has so many meanings and accordingly:
Since the word "private" could be understood as opposed to public, the Codex Rubricarum of Pope John XXIII recommended that the expression "private Mass" be avoided, since every properly celebrated Mass is an act of public worship".

Certainly the English approach to Legislative interpretation is strict in Canonical as in extra Canonical matters. One applies the mischief, plain meaning and Golden Rules. The mischief asks what is the target or mischief that the act intends to deal with. The Plain meaning rule requires one to adopt the normal meaning of words unless the act clearly requires the contrary (or other statute or guidance so directs). The Golden rule is a compromise between the plain meaning (or literal) rule and the mischief rule. Like the plain meaning rule, it gives the words of a statute their plain, ordinary meaning. However, when this may lead to an irrational result that is unlikely to be the legislature's intention, the judge can depart from this meaning. In the case of homographs, where a word can have more than one meaning, the judge can choose the preferred meaning; if the word only has one meaning, but applying this would lead to a bad decision, the judge can apply a completely different meaning.
In the present case, the wide freedom implied by the Papal statement demands a narrow approach and Private Mass, has its clear, traditional meaning, being missa sine populo.
I am not a Roman Canon Lawyer, but am an English Solicitor and Notary Public by Faculty of the Archbishop of Canterbury (pursuant to the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1533 (being "An Acte for the exonaracion frome exaccions payde to the See of Rome") and have practised in English Ecclesiastical Law inter alia.

Rubricarius said...

"The early 20th c. was not only the time of Canon Law and the great rubricists, it was time of hand missal proliferation and "dialogue Masses." All of which laid the underpinnings of Vatican 2 and the new “liturgy” and its unholy “sacramentaries.” Some argue that as these early 20th C. innovations educated and engaged the laity, they were good for Christian formation and strengthened the Church, saved souls. I answer: On the contrary, any fool can see the niggardly and rotten fruit that has fallen from that tree. It is like the untimely fruit of a woman; clouds without rain in a barren and dry land where no water is. Thus, the modern church fails the command to convert the heathen and can’t even hold onto the few souls left."

Superbly put Rev'd Up, bravo!


I rather doubt that the author of Summorum Pontificum would be familiar with the definitions of 'private Mass' described by Canon O'Connell.

Arch Anglo-Catholic said...

Here, one after the other, are latin and english (fair translation I suggest)texts of Article 2 of the Summorum - quite clear as to the nature of Mass intended:

"Art. 2. In Missis sine populo celebratis, quilibet sacerdos catholicus ritus latini, sive saecularis sive religiosus, uti potest aut Missali Romano a beato Papa Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito, aut Missali Romano a Summo Pontifice Paulo VI anno 1970 promulgato, et quidem qualibet die, excepto Triduo Sacro. Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui."

"Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary."

Joshua said...

But doesn't it go on to say:

Art. 4. Ad celebrationes sanctae Missae de quibus supra in art. 2 admitti possunt, servatis de iure servandis, etiam christifideles qui sua sponte id petunt.

[Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.]

For instance, a retired priest I know celebrates a Sunday Mass in a chapel near a nursing home: while this Mass of his is not advertised, some of the old dears next door do toddle over - and, if Father so desired, he could say a '62 Mass as his "private Mass" even if those elderly folks had sua sponte knelt in the pews.

Arch Anglo-Catholic said...

Joshua, you make a very good point.
Article 4, I would suggest, is not to dilute the nature of the Missa Privata, nor to allow extensive use of EF to be 'forced' upon an unwilling congregation, but rather to permit the earnest Catholic to attend EF by request.
This Article with Art 2 goes to the heart of the misunderstanding, to be fair! If we use the old form 'Missa Privata' we raise any number of issues, which is why the Codex form of "In Missis sine populo..." is used. This form, replacing the old Private Mass, is well defined in GIRM and its nature and extent, and limitations is/are codified.(See Chapter IV-C paras 209-231 commencing:
209. This section gives the norms for Mass celebrated by a priest with only one server to assist him and to make the responses.

210. In general this form of Mass follows the rite of Mass with a congregation. The server takes the people's part to the extent possible.

211. Mass should not be celebrated without a server or the participation of at least one of the faithful, except for some legitimate and reasonable cause. In this case the greetings and the blessing at the end of Mass are omitted.

212. The chalice is prepared before Mass, either on a side table near the altar or on the altar itself; the missal is placed on the left side of the altar)

In your example, the Priest Celebrant has carefully not advertised the EF Mass since to do so would be to solicit rather than receive requests to attend by the faithful. The spontaneous desire of the faithful to assist at Mass is not to be denied by the Church, whether by dogma or otherwise!!

Joshua said...

Exactly!

I recall years ago serving a private Mass in the old rite for a visiting priest in an empty church... at some point I became aware that we were not alone (the church was left open during the day for the convenience of the faithful) and in due course I saw that a dear old nun, in full religious habit, was kneeling in the front pew. Many years later I learnt that she had been in the habit of making a Visit - on this occasion, her prayers were answered.