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OBLIGATIONS WHEN THE MASS IS DOUBTFUL REV. DEAR SIR, -Scholastic questions, as a rule, do not appeal to ordinary missionary priests, but when they have a moral bearing they become interesting and instructive to us all. One such I venture to submit to your investigation and decision, and will feel grateful for the solution involved.

Theologians, as you know, are divided as to what constitute; the essence of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Some place it in the Consecration of both species (of bread and wine) together with the priest's Communion, which latter they look upon not only as an integral but as an essential part of the sacrifice : that opinion may now, I assume, be summarily dismissed as groundless and untenable. Noldin says (page 182, note) : Rationem (pro ea) nullius esse momenti.'

Others maintain that the essence consists in the Consecration of one species alone, of either bread or wine. This opinion was formally upheld by some, not of much note, but at present by very few : St. Liguori looks upon it as probable (n. 306). Nowadays, however, the greater number of theologians maintain that the essence consists in the Consecration of both species—valid bread and wine. It is almost unnecessary to cite authors in support of this last view. Still, let me mention two or three.

Thus Lehmkuhl writes (page 122, 3rd edition): 'At nullo modo probabile est alterutram consecrationem per se solam sufficere ad essentiam sacrificii Missae. Licet enim sufficiat ut potuerit assumi pro sacrificio, reipsa tamen non ita assumpta est a Christo Domino, nam realis cruentae mortis representatio non satis habetur secundum ea quae Christus voluit nisi utriusque separatae speciei consecratio fiat. Haec vero realis representatio Missae essentialis est.'

Genicot, inter alia, writes (page 222, ii. n. 214): 'Igitur, ubi non habetur nisi obscurior representatio effusionis sanguinis Christi in cruce per unius speciei consecrationem, non habetur verum N. L. sacrificium, aeque ac baptismus nequit valide conferri sub obscura SS. Trinitatis invocatione, eo quod Christus distinctam voluit.' And further on he subjoins : 'Nam licet ita unius speciei consecratio ex se apta sit ut in sacrificium instituatur; deficiente positiva institutione, reipsa sacrificii rationem non habet.'

Noldin's view is the same (page 183, n. 164), quoting Pesch (n. 886).

Now, from such solid reasoning and the almost unanimous weight of modern authorities, one would be induced, nay forced, to believe that there is no room for a practically probable opinion on the other side ; so that if a priest consecrates only one valid species, either of bread or wine, or forms no intention till after the first Consecration, he cannot rest satisfied that he has offered a really valid sacrifice, and must, therefore, say another Mass for the donor's intention, or restore the stipend received.

Still the question may be raised, whether a priest who learns or knows that St. Liguori thinks it a probable opinion that the Consecration of one species is sufficient for a valid sacrifice, and that the Holy See has declared that St. Liguori's opinions may be safely followed in practice -whether, I say, such a priest can think himself exempt from any further obligation of either saying another Mass for the donor's intention or of restoring the stipend ?

Verbo, What is to be the decision in his case, post factum ?

Noldin would seem to favour the view of exempting him (pp. 184-6) provided, he remarks, St. Liguori's opinion is thought probable by him. Kindly give your opinion on the whole question, both scholastic and moral, and it will be gratefully appreciated by me and my acquaintances.


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Our correspondent has marshalled his authorities so ably that we may be dispensed from summoning any more. He asks us for our own personal view, and we will give it for what it is worth.

On intrinsic evidence, we would accept the theory of double consecration, and reject all others as false. But, especially when there is question of the obligations of others, we must, in the moral line, be guided to a great extent by extrinsic probability as well. The opponents of the double-consecration theory are, of course, very much divided among themselves. Some find the essence of the sacrifice in a single consecration: some in the lowly condition to which Christ descends : others, on the ‘Banquet' theory, lay special emphasis on the Communion ; others, again, take the offering immediately preceding the Pater Noster -the little elevation,' as some term it--as the essential rite: and a few support minor theories of even less importance. But, no matter how they differ, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that all of them—some brilliant men, too, among them-are united in opposition to the common view. Not that the case they make is very strong. Even when due respect is paid to their number and intelligence, the verdict 'just barely probable’ would perhaps summarize their position from the standpoint of a perfectly impartial outsider.

That is the state of the case when de facto there is only one consecration. When there are two, and when the only difficulty is in regard to the intention, the probability in favour of liberty is somewhat greater. When the intention is formed between the two consecrations, it is very reasonable to suppose, even on the basis of the common view, that the application is valid, inasmuch as it is made before the essential sacrifice is completed and offered. When formed after the Consecration and before the Communion (between the essential' and 'integral' parts), the same might be claimed with some slight show of plausibility—much in the same way as we apply the sacrifice in the Commemoration of the

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Dead,' though that Commemoration takes place during the portion of the Mass just mentioned.

It is on that basis that the priest's obligation has to be determined. Though the Mass contract is not one of buying and selling, it is, we believe, a strict contract all the same, and is governed, as far as possible, by the same principles as contracts generally. There has been in recent years a growing tendency-to our mind a very regrettable onetowards applying the principles of Probabilism in the sphere of justice ; towards allowing, e.g., a man absolute freedom in the case of doubtful debts, when he has a strong reason for thinking he has paid, though he has still stronger for thinking he has not. The policy seems to us to violate too flagrantly the principle of equality-one of the most fundamental in justice. When, outside betting and similar transactions, a person takes another's property under contract, he gets something certain and definite, and he should guarantee the other not merely a chance, but at least a fair degree of a certainty, of getting whatever is agreed on in return. To be more precise, and to return to our case, the priest, we think, continues bound by the obligation until it is at least more probable that the obligation has been discharged. And it will never be more probable until there have been two consecrations and the intention has been formed before the second.

Whatever about the theory, that is the principle that, we think, every priest would adopt in practice. If the number of doubtful Masses is small, he will celebrate these again and say nothing more about it. If so great that their re-celebration would involve serious hardship, he will apply to the Congregation of the Council. And the chances are that, provided he has not been at fault, the Church will condone the obligation, and, out of the infinite merit and satisfaction of Christ and the Saints, confer on the donor of the honorarium the spiritual blessings of which he has most probably been deprived by the unfortunate accident that has occurred.1




I REV. DEAR SIR,-I have just read a reply given in the current (October) number of the I. E. RECORD on the above subject (pp. 317, 818). With that reply, which has reference to Masses to be said 'according to the law,' I am in agreement : so far as I can see, it is theoretically accurate. But, in practice, I think the case would hardly ever be as stated by "Subscriber.' It would be more like this: the testator, without saying anything of the law prevailing or of obligations attached to

1 For the records of a case in which a petition for condonation was recently presented to Rome, and for the reply given, see I. E. RECORD (April, 1917), Fifth Series, vol. ix. pp. 341-5. As for St. Liguori's opinions, they are not necessarily decisive on any particular issue. Cf. an express condemnation by the Penitentiary, on the 19th February, 1896, of a view of his regarding the absolutio complicis. It is embodied in the new Code (2367).

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particular months, would state simply, but expressly, that the Masses were to be said 'within six months. Would the priest, in that case, be obliged to say some of the Masses within a month, or would he have to impose a similar obligation on others in case he transferred the honoraria ? 'Subscriber's 'arguments, in the letter to which you replied, would seem to show that he is.

E. F.

II Rev. DEAR SIR,-1°. Can a priest act on an arrangement by which he accepts Masses, the condition being that he may say them, or have them said, whenever he can ? The case has no connexion with a will, and quecist wishes to know if he is free to accept money for Masses, expressly arranging not to bind himself to time.

2o. A parishioner gave £50 on behalf of his deceased wife for Masses. This was her request, but not inserted in the will. The priest to whom he gave the money was unable to say them in time, and asked for an extension. This the parishioner freely gave him, remarking he knew nothing about time limit, and stating he believed the deceased intended this priest personally to say the Masses. The priest acted on this permission. Was he justified ?

3o. This parishioner subsequently died and left £50 also to the same priest for Masses, who finds he cannot say them within the canonical time. May he allow himself an extension ?

4°. In the Compendium of Noldin, by Telch, I find (p. 215, last line) : . 2°. Talem missam usque ad mensem ulira tempus praescriptum sine justa causa differre grave peccatum est. Probably a justa causa' can be established in most cases.


I We thank ‘E. F.' for his remarks in regard to a previous reply. But we think-as, apparently, he does not—that, in the case he states, the priest is not strictly bound to say any of the Masses within a month, nor to get others to do so: that, in other words, he fulfils all his strict obligations by saying, or having others say, all the specified Masses on, or before, the last day of the six months' period.

In every Church law on the matter-the Ut debita included—the donor's intention has been taken as the decisive factor. He may impose whatever restrictions he pleases, or make whatever concessions his generosity suggests : in each case his wish is the supreme court of appeal. As to the extent or meaning of his wish or intention, whether on the strict or the generous side, his own statement is the best possible evidence. Now, in ‘E. F's' case, we have got that express statement. The testator imposed an obligation to be discharged within six months': he imposed nothing more. And, if we might be allowed to modify a maxim we have quoted already, we would say 'Testator quod tacuit noluit, quod voluit expressit.' He expressed nothing in regard to one month; therefore he had no wish to attach any obligation to it. He might, of course, have insisted on much more than 'E. F.' commits him

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1 Supra, p. 361.

to: and the considerations advanced by 'Subscriber' in his letter' in our last issue show how reasonable his action would have been. But he might also have acted in a more generous fashion. And in the case submitted by 'E.F.,' we believe he did.

II 1°. Yes; he may expressly arrange not to bind himself to time. It is entirely a question of a free contract between two individuals. When the terms of the agreement are not sufficiently definite, the Church undertakes to interpret them according to a standard of her own. But she has no intention of interfering, when it is perfectly clear that the parties accepted a standard different from hers. Whatever rules they make she will approve-whether they be more strict or more liberal than those she would have applied herself.

2°. We think he was, provided he made a reasonable effort to say them as nearly within the time fixed by law as was conveniently possible. The solution depends on the wife’s intention, not on the husband's, for we may assume that the husband intended merely to carry out his wife's last wishes; and, as regards her intention, we may take it that the husband was in the most favourable position to speak ith authority. When a person is anxious to have Masses said by a particular priest, and when the Masses are too numerous to be said within the prescribed period, we are justified in assuming that he grants whatever extension of time is found necessary. But we think, at the same time, that the priest is bound to make the reasonable effort.' Even though the testator says nothing whatever on the point, he would—if he knew anything about it-be very unwilling, and reasonably so, to have the Masses postponed indefinitely or in deference to other obligations assumed without pressure or necessity.

3o. Our answer would be the same as before-and would be given with more confidence. It is the husband's wish that counts this time; and he may be assumed, as a good-living Christian, to be as generous in his own regard as he was in regard to bis wife. Moreover, he can hardly have fo.gotten his conversation on the subject, and, in absence of any statement to the contrary, may be taken as willing to abide by the consequences.

4°. We have not seen the Compendium referred to, but statements of the kind are made commonly enough in the manuals. If we were asked our own opinion about them, we should say that they are wanting in scientific accuracy. To state that, with just cause, a month may be allowed over and above the prescribed period, without any reference to the length of the prescribed period itself-whether it be one month, six or eleven-is to forget all about proportion. A period may be taken

roughly to mean anything 'near or about' the time specified. But

' surely the margin allowed should bear some relation to the original period to which it is attached. A man may be described correctly enough as owning about £100' if he has anything between £90 and £110, but a great amount of imagination would be required to have him certified


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