Feast of Peter and Paul is more than ‘ordinary’


Catholic Register, 12 July 2019

Detailed knowledge of our liturgical rites is sometimes derided as arcane or obscure. It’s true that sometimes liturgical matters are arcane and obscure. But in the liturgy lie lessons which teach us about important matters which are neither obscure nor arcane. Thus it is good to know the ins and outs of such matters.

There were a lot of ins and outs in the final week of June, when four “solemnities” fell in the same week: Corpus Christi (June 23), Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24), Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 28) and Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29).

“Solemnity” is the highest rank of feast day in our liturgical calendar. I think “solemn feast” sounds better in English, but “solemnity” is a more literal translation of the Latin “sollemnitas.” These solemnities include the Most Holy Trinity and Pentecost, the great feasts of the Lord Jesus (Annunciation, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart, Christ the King), the Blessed Mother (Immaculate Conception, Assumption) and the saints (All Saints, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist and Sts. Peter and Paul).

What sets solemnities apart is that they must be celebrated, even if transferred to another date. For example, if the Annunciation falls during Holy Week, it is observed after Divine Mercy Sunday. The lessons that the solemn feasts are intended to teach us cannot be missed.

Which brings us to a liturgical puzzle that arose on June 29, this year a Saturday. Relatively few parishes have Saturday morning Masses; nearly all have anticipated Sunday Masses on Saturday evening. Clearly a Saturday morning Mass would have observed the solemnity of Peter and Paul. But in the evening?

Most parishes likely opted for the Sunday Mass of the next day, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. But there is something strange about that. If Peter and Paul had fallen upon a Sunday, it would have replaced that Sunday altogether because it has a higher rank than a Sunday in Ordinary Time in the official table which governs the calendar. We can miss a Sunday in Ordinary Time; we can’t miss a solemnity.

So how can it be that a lower-ranking Sunday would bump Peter and Paul on June 29, a Saturday evening? A higher feast does not give way to a lower one.

Many people think that the “Sunday obligation” means attending the Mass of that particular Sunday. But that is incorrect. The Sunday Mass obligation requires Catholics to attend Mass — any Mass at all — on Sunday. The local bishop will decide the time on Saturday afternoon after which Mass attendance counts for the Sunday obligation. Any Mass celebrated after that time counts for the Sunday obligation. There is an obligation to go to any Mass on Sunday, not to go to the particular Mass for that Sunday.

For example, a wedding or funeral Mass offered on Saturday evening would count for the Sunday obligation. (Usually, wedding and funeral Masses are not celebrated at that time.)

Continue reading at the Catholic Register: https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/columnists/item/29896-fr-raymond-j-de-souza-feast-of-peter-and-paul-is-more-than-ordinary