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Bishop dispenses in this matter. What is the source of the obligation? What would be a justifying cause for dispensation?


Canon 466 of the new Code of Canon Law deals with the obligation of parish priests to say a Missa pro populo. Whilst it contains no changes which are peculiar to suppressed feasts, yet it makes certain modifications in this obligation which are common to all the days upon which it urges. We shall indicate these changes in the order in which they occur in the canon.

(a) A parish priest who rules over several parishes united aeque principaliter, or who besides his own parish has the administration of another or other parishes, will be bound under the Code to only one Mass pro populo (§ 2). At present he is bound to several Masses in accordance with the number of parishes over which he rules.

(b) The Ordinary of the place may, for a just cause, permit a parish priest to apply the Mass on some day other than that upon which he is bound by law to apply it (§ 3). Hitherto Bishops could permit this transference, by the general law of the Church, only in the case of parish priests who were supported almost entirely by honoraria, and who received these honoraria for the application of Masses on the days on which they were bound to the Mass pro populo. In other circumstances such permission could be granted only in virtue of an Apostolic Indult.

(c) The Mass should be celebrated in the parochial church unless it is necessary or advisable from the circumstances to celebrate it somewhere else (§ 4). As no distinction is drawn between suppressed and other feasts, there is no doubt that this regulation applies equally to all. It is evident, of course, that circumstances may much more easily render it permissible to celebrate in some other place on suppressed feasts than on days upon which the obligation of hearing Mass still



Under the present discipline doubts are sometimes thrown upon local feature of the obligation, so far as suppressed holidays are concerned. The contention is that, with the removal of the obligation of hearing Mass, the reason for requiring its celebration in the parochial church has completely disappeared. Personally, however, we could never see our way to assent to this view. Under the new Code these doubts will be entirely removed.

The Council of Trent declares that there is a divine precept upon all those to whom the care of souls is committed to offer sacrifice for their flock; 1 and, consequently, the obligation of parish priests to celebrate a Mass pro populo has its foundation in the divine law. It is ecclesiastical law, however, which has defined precisely its extension and limits; and, hence, ecclesiastical authorities may to some extent dispense from it. As the law in question is a general one, the power to modify it, even in particular cases, resides only in the Holy See or its delegates.

1' Quum praecepto divino mandatum sit omnibus, quibus animarum cura commissa est, oves suas agnoscere, pro his sacrificium offerre,' etc.-Sess. xxiii. c. 1, De Ref.

Our Bishops, in virtue of a special indult, renewed in 1916 for a period of ten years, may dispense from it on suppressed feasts.1 For the exercise of this power they, like all other delegates, require a reasonable cause: poverty on the part of the parish priest would obviously constitute such a cause. We may mention that in this same indult power is also granted to the Irish Bishops to permit the celebration of the Mass pro populo outside the parochial church on transferred feasts. Under the new legislation this latter faculty will be of very little value, as the law itself will now grant this permission in most of the circumstances in which a dispensation was formerly given.


REV. DEAR SIR,-Is there a really probable opinion that members of a religious Order may satisfy their obligation to the Divine Office by merely reading it, without in any way pronouncing the words? All I can find upon the subject is in Piat, Praelect. Jur. Can., tom. i. p. iii. c. 3. This does not at all convince me that the privilege really exists. Should I be justified in refusing absolution to one who acts upon it? An answer in an early issue of your esteemed I. E. RECORD Will greatly oblige.


In our opinion there is not the shadow of a foundation for holding that any such privilege exists. Not only does Piat say nothing which might suggest its existence, but he states expressly, in the chapter to which our correspondent refers, that both the choral and private recitation of the Divine Office by religious should be vocal. Vermeersch, in dealing with this question, makes no mention of any such privilege;2 and Wernz is quite as explicit as Piat on the necessity of vocal recitation.* So also are Ojetti and Lehmkuhl; but there is no necessity to quote further. We feel certain that, if so important a privilege existed, it would be known to the writers whom we have mentioned.


From what has been said, it is clear that confessors should not grant absolution to members of religious Orders who are bound under grave obligation to the recitation of the Divine Office, if they refuse to recite it vocally, as all are agreed that this aspect of the obligation is essential.

ATTENDANCE AT A SHORT PLAY IN THEATRE ROYAL REV. DEAR SIR,-Does a priest (on the Irish mission) incur the suspension mentioned in No. 180, p. 83, Maynooth Decrees, who witnesses a short play performed in the Theatre Royal, Dublin, during the Hippodrome season? X.

The portion of No. 180, bearing upon this query, runs as follows: 'A theatrorum quorumcumque publicorum spectaculis, etiam illius generis

1 See Irish Theological Quarterly, April, 1916, p. 233.

2 De Religiosis Inst. et Per., n. 314.

3 Jus. Decret., tom. iii. n. 659, et tom. ii. n. 195.

4 Synopsis Rerum Moralium, vol. ii. p. 2120.

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Theologia Moralis, vol. ii. n. 630.

quae nomine Opera designantur . . . (clerici) prorsus abstineant. Si quis vero clericus hanc legem violaverit, suspensionem Ordinario reservatam ipso facto incurret.'

Although doubts may be raised as to the full implication of the word spectaculis, there is none that it embraces plays or dramatic performances. The Theatre Royal, too, is clearly a 'public theatre,' even in the strictest acceptation of the term. In the circumstances mentioned, therefore, the law was violated, and, unless there was some excusing cause, the suspension was incurred. The fact that the play was a short one, or that the attendance was during the Hippodrome season, is immaterial. Of course, I presume that there is question of a public performance: it is sufficiently probable that attendance at a private rehearsal does not come within the terms of this law, and so does not involve suspension. If our correspondent desires a fuller discussion of this law, he will find it in the I. E. RECORD, Fourth Series, vol. xxvii. pp. 296-299. We have confined ourselves merely to a solution of the case submitted to





REV. DEAR SIR,-You will greatly oblige by answering the following questions in the I. E. RECORD:

1. What is the rule about giving Communion in vestments, immediately before or after a solemn or conventual Mass?

2. Which is the correct versicle and prayer to be sung after the Litany of Loreto?

3. When passing the altar during Mass, between the Consecration and Communion, should one genuflect on both knees, or only on one knee?

4. Is it permitted to wear albs at Vespers, or should the copes be worn over the surplice and amice only? Also, at a Pontifical Mass, may the assistant Deacons at the throne wear albs under their dalmatics?

5. At what precise moment should the body be lowered into the grave?

6. Is the custom, which prevails in some places of handing round the aspersory to all present, in order that they may sprinkle the coffin, contrary to the rubrics?

7. Is it lawful to neglect entirely the burning of candles before the crosses in a consecrated church on the anniversary of the consecration? A. B. C.

1. Communion must not be distributed in the circumstances mentioned, as the following reply 1 clearly shows:

Q. An Sacerdos, sacris vestibus indutus, possit administrare sacram Communionem, data rationabili causa, ante vel post Missam solemnem aut cantatam aut etiam conventualem, sicuti permittitur ante vel post Missam privatam?

R. Negative.

2. The versicle and prayer will vary according to the season of the ecclesiastical year. (a) From the feast of the Purification until Easter, and again from the end of Paschal time until Advent the versicle is Ora pro nobis, etc., and the prayer Concede. (b) From Advent until Christmas the versicle is Angelus Domini, etc., and the prayer Deus qui de beatae, etc. (c) From Christmas until the Purification the versicle is Post partum, etc., and the prayer Deus qui salutis aeternae, etc. (d) During Paschal time the versicle is Gaude et laetare, etc., and the prayer Deus qui per resurrectionem, etc.2

3. The genuflection is to be made on one knee only.3

4. In ordinary cases the officiating priest and his ministers are to be vested in surplice and cope; the use of the amice seems to be obligatory for those Religious who wear it over their heads. When Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament follows Vespers immediately, the officiating priest is allowed to wear a stole over his surplice from the beginning of the functions; but even he is not allowed to wear the alb.*

5. The Ritual and Decrees of the Congregation of Rites are silent regarding this point. But Martinucci, to mention one authority, lays down that the coffin should be placed beside the grave while the prayers are being recited, and should not be lowered until the clergy have left the cemetery. In these countries, however, a recognized custom exists according to which the priest remains until the coffin has been lowered, and then throws earth upon it three times, with the well-known formula. Hence the coffin should be lowered into the grave when all the ordinary prayers, as given in the Ritual, have been recited.


6. This is one of the customs mentioned without disapproval by Baruffaldi, although we were not aware that it is in use in these countries. It is not directly opposed to any rubric, but is rather an example of a custom praeter legem.

7. It is not lawful. The candles should be lighted on the anniversary 'per integrum et solum diem, incipiendo a primis Vesperis.' '

1 S.C.R. Decreta Auth. n. 4177, iii.

2 See revised Ritual, Appendix.

3 De Amicis, Caerem. Parochorum, Pars. I, sect. ii. cap. i. art. iii. 84.

4 Decr. Auth. n. 4271.

5 Lib. iv. tit. i. cap. iv. art. ii.

6 Tit. xxxvi. n. 172.

7 Decr. Auth. n. 3856, ad 6.


REV. DEAR SIR,-Would you please inform me if Bishops who are present at a solemn Requiem Mass for a brother Bishop are entitled to have chaplains during the function? If so, is it the Bishop or the chaplain who ought to hold the candle at the Gospel, and from the Sanctus to the Communion?

Would it be incorrect to do away altogether with this greasy habit of holding lighted candles at requiem functions? In theory and in practice there seems to be a good deal of difference of opinion, and a little light is necessary.


The Congregation of Rites decided that when a Bishop is allowed to assist in rochet and mozzetta at sacred functions he is not entitled to the assistance of canons, and should take his place in the first stall of the choir. This would apply also, of course, when the Bishop assists in rochet and mantelletta. But where, as in most of our churches, there are no choir stalls, it is customary that the Bishop should be attended by a chaplain vested in surplice. The Caeremoniale prescribes that the Bishops who are to give the Absolutions should have their chaplains in attendance; and with us the chaplain assists throughout the whole of the exsequial functions. But since the Bishops, in the case made, really form part of the choir they should hold the lighted candles themselves, in the same way as the other members of the choir. Here there is no question of 'assistentia' in the technical sense.

We venture to point out to our correspondent that the practice of holding lighted candles during exsequial functions is something more than a mere 'greasy habit.' It is a custom of venerable antiquity, as is vouched for by early writers of both the Eastern and Western Church." The custom was doubtless adopted from pagan funeral rites; but in this case, as in so many others, the Church in adopting it gave it a new symbolism. Porro nos,' says Catalani, cereos accendimus, non ex superstitione, sed ad significandum animas vivere, et defunctos filios lucis ac eorum corpora resurrectura.'

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Anyone who carefully studies the Exsequiarum Ordo as given in the Roman Ritual will come to the conclusion that the 'habit is really a matter of law. The Ordo supposes that the procession from the house of the deceased to the church, the Office for the Dead, the exsequial Mass and the Absolution all take place on the same morning. Before the procession starts for the church the candles are to be distributed to the clergy and the torches lighted: Distribuuntur cerei, et acceduntur intorticia. Baruffaldi observes that the candles are distributed for a double purpose: 'Non tantum pro eleemosyna dantur cerei, sed pro ritu, ut luceant.' The Ritual makes only a passing reference to the Mass, but among the directions for the Absolution we find: et omnes alii de Clero veniunt ordinatim in gradu suo cum candelis accensis, et

1 Decr. Auth. n. 650.


2 Vide Catalani, Pontif. Roman., vol. iii. tit. xxvii. § i. xxxv. et seq. 3 Tit. xxxvi. n. 57.

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