Wednesday, August 23, 2006

'Blessed Mother Wednesday'

Walking home from the 4th Degree K of C meeting tonight, I had an idea(this is why I refused two offers of rides) . . .

We no longer have a Saturday morning Mass here. But I'd still like to have votive Masses for the Blessed Mother.

In fact, the options are wide open for Ordinary Time: any day where there's no feast or memorial, a priest can have a votive Mass of his choice, although he's supposed to be considerate of the devotion of the people. But then, he could justify a votive Mass for this or that saint as a way to teach a devotion, too.

In any case, devotion to Our Lady is the pre-eminent devotion in our faith.

So I thought--what about having a votive Mass of the Blessed Mother on Wednesday? The only association Wednesday has is with St. Joseph, and he's gallant, he'd be honored!

When else would we have votive Masses for Mary?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

A bunch of us here have developed a habit of reading this blog and sometimes discussing it. Some of us are catholic and others are not, which includes me. What I wonder is, what is a votive mass???
Thanks in advance for the info, Fr. Fox.

Anonymous said...

Hope I'm not stepping on Father's toes here, but a votive Mass is one that has a particular devotional intent, the Mass for the Dead is officially a votive Mass, for example. Any Mass offered in commemoration of a saint is a votive Mass (as is the Beatae Mariae in Sabbato). The liturgy is slightly different for each.

Father, I understand. I wish the Saturday Marian Mass were more common in our time. I also wish public Vespers would make a comeback too...


Fr Martin Fox said...

I'd be willing to lead public Vespers once in a while; I wonder how many would come, and wouled people know how to chant the psalms? I'd be willing to try.

To be honest, it is kinda far down my list.

Fr Martin Fox said...


You needn't answer, but -- who is the "bunch" and where are you?

Anonymous said...

Father, this bunch of us - we are just a family, including in-laws and multigenerationals. Our ages range from 18 to 65. We all live in the midwest. Some are liberal catholics, some are conservatives, and some are ex-catholics while others are converts. All nice folks - big variety, lots of opinions, lots of interest.

Anonymous said...

Now here is an idea on how to honor Mary. The church could begin to recognise her as she really was. What do we know about her? She was a Jewish woman. She must have been close to 60 when she died. She was a very strong and loving woman and very concerned for others, especially her son. She was married. She was poor. She lived the same kind of life as others in her state.
What is the image the church puts forward in its art (pictures and statues)? We see a very young girl, perhaps 16, wearing colorful garments made of fine material (Mary would have worn homespun and it would have been coarse - nor would she have had time to dye it.)
Fake Mary usually has long flowing blonde hair and pink skin, small lips, a veil, and often a fancy crown on her head, standing there with downcast eyes and hands palms up in a "who, me?" gesture. I don't think so!
All my life as a Catholic I've seen other Catholics practically worship this completely
false image of the real mother of God, an image that caricatures some saccharine-sweet girlchild who is supposed to make all their dreams come true. This idol is not the real Mary of Scripture but a nonexistent chimera. A million superstitions have developed from devotion to this fantasy Mary.
What if some enterprising young priest were to do a series of classes or devotions which introduced the real Mary, a person who would blow that fairytale gal right out of the water? Why has the church so long ignored the radical and powerful, if perhaps unglamourous, woman that Mary had to have been? And please, let's dispense with the virginity arguments pro or con - who would want generation after generation of people discussing their reproductive organs ad nauseum? Let's be the people who can move on past that.
As you can guess, I am one of the grandma's in the bunch.

Mary Martha said...

That sounds very nice.

I have gotten in the habit of going to Tridentine Low Mass on Wednesday evenings with some friends at St. John Cantius. It is lovely to have a Mass int eh middle of the week.

But I have to ask... Why don't you offer Saturday Mass?

Vitae Scrutator said...

Hi Father Fox

Although I'm not in your parish, I think the idea of a votive Mass in honor of Our Lady on Saturdays is a fabulous idea. Saturday has traditionally been a day for honoring the First Covenant, with Mary as a figure of the Jewish people. It's a tradition that I think ought to be re-emphasized.

Votive Masses in honor of the dead on unimpeded Fridays in Ordinary Time is also a great idea.

I've lived in lots of different parishes around the country, and they almost never have a Mass on Saturdays. I suppose that's so that priests can have at least one day off each week, but it sure would be nice to be able to assist at Mass every day. Maybe in parishes that have more than one priest in residence it would be possible, but even in large parishes I've found that they often don't have Saturday Masses.

Sarada said...

We have Saturday morning masses at most of the churches in my area. I don't know how well attended they are, though.

Tom said...

There's a story (probably more than one; I think the one I heard took place in New York City) about a priest transferred to a new parish who started praying the Office in the church. He lit the candles, vested, and chanted in fill voice.

At first, he was alone. Then some of the regulars who came early for morning Mass started coming even earlier for Morning Prayer. Then some started coming back for Evening Prayer. Eventually (so the story goes), joining the Office was just something people did at that parish.

That's the brute force way. A Sundays of Lent Vespers program, followed by a poll for interest (in, say, a First Sunday of the Month Vespers program), could introduce a parish to the idea on a less demanding schedule.

With a same-day-of-the-week schedule, you should be able to print up fairly short booklets (seriously brief breviaries) covering the four weeks of the Psalter and sufficient for those in the pews. Every now and then, a feast might mess things up (even on Sundays, with e.g. the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist), but you can work around that.

Tom said...

Oh, and Blessed Mother Wednesday sounds like a great idea.

Can the votive Mass be offered even on the day of a memorial if the votive Mass is not considered the primary parish Mass?

Come to think of it, I think I've been to votive Masses to the BVM on Saturdays that were memorials of other saints.

Deacon Jim said...

We do it every Wednesday at 6pm followed by exposition, a Novena to Our Lady of Czestochowa, and benediction.

During Advent we preserve the tradition of Rorate Holy Mass.

Fr Martin Fox said...

The reason my two parishes have no Saturday morning Mass is simply because of our priest situation.

We have three priests -- sounds like a lot -- covering two parishes.

However, one is 87 and the other has terminal cancer. God grant them many years, but -- the handwriting is on the wall. The older priest is active, but likes to have Mass at home, and he's entitled to that. The ill priest has varying levels of energy.

We recently went from four priests to three, when another retired priest moved; at that point, it was appropriate to make some changes in the daily and Sunday Mass schedule.

Previously, we had 15 daily Masses, Monday to Saturday (2 a day M-F; four on Thursday, and one Saturday morning), and eight on Saturday evening or Sunday, not counting weddings and funerals.

After consultation, we eliminated two Sunday Masses (from six to four), and three during the week: one on Monday, one on Thursday, and the Saturday morning Mass.

Except for Monday, we have Mass every day in each parish (The third Mass on Thursday rotates through area nursing homes).

Since I expect, before long, to be the only priest here -- and I expect to be given a third parish anytime in the next few years -- I have to plan for this.

I could have postponed these changes; but that would mean, when I went from three priests, to two, making even more drastic changes at that point -- and that would be no favor to anyone (these changes may seem straightforward, but they have lots of consequences).

Why not keep the Saturday morning Mass? Well, partly because I didn't want to be even-handed in how the changes affected both parishes. Also, Saturday is a very demanding day: two other Masses in the evening, plus many weddings, and some funerals, and two hours of confessions.

I did have someone say, "but I want to receive holy communion on Saturday" -- to which I responded, you can! You can receive the Eucharist at Mass on Saturday evening, and still receive again on Sunday.

This is what happens when we fewer priests, and the priests we have are ill or elderly. So please pray this prayer:

"Please send us more priests!"

Fr Martin Fox said...

Sorry -- I meant, I DID want to be even-handed! :-)

Tom: We have morning prayer now, but its recited, we use a "shorter Christian prayer" book.

I've been focusing on singing more of daily Mass, and singing morning prayer will come more easily after that. So many things . . .

Deacon: I am unfamiliar with the "Rorate" tradition you mention; care to say more about that?

Mary Martha said...

Wow... you are short staffed.

I guess here in the Chicago area I have gotten spoiled with so many churches and priests. Even if one parish doesn't have Saturday Mass there is an other parish within 3 miles that will.

I do pray for vocations, and for the priests we have to have strength in these understaffed times.

Anonymous said...

Father Fox, when you have so many parishioners and responsibilities and parishes, I don't think you should try to please or accommodate everyone. Just make your schedule and if people do not have the kind consideration to adapt to it -it's their own fault.
As you may have noticed there are always a fair number of people who like to complain about something, often a schedule they find inconvenient to themselves. We must all do our part in these times, and with the burdens placed on priests nowadays the call on scheduling is completely up to you!
That's the way it must be and should be.

Fr Martin Fox said...



A lot of folks don't appreciate how much "politics" there is in this sort of thing.

My attitude about that is, it's not good, it's not bad, it's the way it is.

"Being political" need not mean being insincere or even wasting time. Rather, it means making the right kind of investment of time or effort to make things work, and to maximize everyone's involvement.

No -- you can't please everyone; but you can help your cause. So, yes, I do take these things into consideration in all these decisions.

Deacon Jim said...

As I'm sure you know, Rorate is the Latin word which starts Isaiah 45:8. The text is used frequently during Advent liturgical services ("Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum" "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just").

Rorate Holy Mass is typically held before dawn on Wednesday’s in Advent (traditional – but we do it at 6pm) and commemorates the Annunciation.

The Holy Mass is a votive Mass of the BVM. The Liturgical color is white. An extra white candle is placed on the altar and lit to call to mind the coming Light of the World.

When done in the old style, before dawn, the Holy Mass ends with the sunrise, again symbolizing the coming Light.

Anonymous said...

Our priest decided recently to reestablish Saturday morning Mass on just the First Saturday of the month, which is nice and has been well attended these last few months since it started. I can understand how difficult it can be with the shortage of priests...I keep praying and do a Holy Hour every week for an increase in priestly vocations.
A blessed day to you, Father; you remain in my daily prayers.

DP said...

Whenever our pastor (as opposed to the assistant pastor) is saying Mass on Saturday mornings he says a votive Mass for the Blessed Virgin. I really appreciate this.

That being said, I don't think St. Joseph would have a problem with Wednesdays. He's a loving husband. He wouldn't mind.

As for morning prayer. . . several of the larger parishes in our archdiocese have morning prayer. In some of the parishes the priest joins in, in others the laity pray morning prayer without the priest. It depends. I think in general though it's a good thing to promote the Liturgy of the Hours. That being said, Mass should be the priority.

Unknown said...

I understand your staffing problems, Father, but I would like to share with your readers a Mass that I discovered in Minneapolis a couple of months ago.

St Anthony of Padua parish in Northeast Mpls. An older parish with a newer building, attached to a modern Eldercare center.

Saturday morning starts out at 7:30 with a Holy Hour composed of Adoration, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary and then Benediction.

At 8:30 is a Marian Gregorian Chant Mass. The attendance is small, but the singing is quite good, considering most of them are elderly (They all seem to still know their Latin).

Some mornings about ten or so youngish nuns show up.

I don't know how long they can carry this Mass with maybe only 30-40 attending, but I love it. It's a wonderful way to start out my weekend.

ohevin said...

Every Saturday morning here at St. Anthony's Parish in Hot Springs, SD a group of men, known as "Men of St. Joseph" gather together from 6:30 am to 7:00 am for adoration and offering the morning prayers of the Magnificat. It really is a beautiful moment for us. Special prayers are always offered to our Blessed Mother Mary and the closeness to Jesus and to each other under the patronage of St. Joseph is very edifying and spiritually uplifting. Afterward we share a breakfast prepared by one of our own and usually are out of the parish hall by 7:40. If a pastor were open to this, it truly is a special way to maintain a gathering "around our Lord" on Saturday morning when most Catholic Churches in America pretty much have the "Closed" sign on the door.
On a personal note, I have to say that this weekly gathering of the "Men of St. Joseph" has really been a source of Heavenly medicine for this 51 year old man.

Fr Martin Fox said...

We're really blessed in Piqua: we have a perpetual adoration chapel here, so anyone can have prayer, anytime, before our Eucharistic Lord.

And I'm open to pretty much anything, as long as it doesn't scare the horses . . . our youth minister wants to take the youth group down to the chapel, periodically, for some adoration, with some "praise" music.

Sounds great to me!

Anonymous said...


Rorate Mass takes its name from the first words of the Introit for this Mass (Rorate c_-Ii desuper), which was celebrated on Ember Wednesday during Advent. The Proper texts--readings, chants, and prayers--focus on the prophecies of Isaiah in 7:14 and 9:6 and on the Annunciation, from Luke 1: 26-38. Therefore, in some regions the feast of the Annunciation was celebrated on this day because so often March 25th fell during Lent.