Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sacred Heart on Sunday, yes or no?

The retired priest here made a suggestion that I am considering: why not celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on the nearest Sunday?

He was, I think, prompted by my practice of transferring to Sunday the celebration of the patronal feast for St. Boniface (when not impeded by Holy Trinity or Corpus Christi, as happens this year), and the transfer to a nearby Sunday of the celebration of the dedication of our churches--which are solemnities for that parish.

So why not also for Sacred Heart? The retired priest argued for it because it's such a special devotion--and way of life--for so many and could be for so many more.

I discussed this over dinner last night with the parochial vicar, our dear Sisters of Charity, and one of the seminarians here for the summer. The first reaction, from the vicar, was, are you sure you can do that?

The answer is yes, according to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, paragraph 58:

For the pastoral advantage of the people, it is permissible to observe on the Sundays in Ordinary Time those celebrations that fall during the week and have special appeal to the devotion of the faithful, provided the celebrations take precedence over these Sundays in the Table of Liturgical Days. The Mass for such celebrations may be used at all the Masses at which a congregation is present (February 14, 1969, accessed at EWTN's online library.

Not that I remembered the exact citation, so we had some discussion about why this doesn't apply to Christmas; the answer being, this provision applies only during Ordinary Time. The question then arose, what about Assumption? It seems that, from this provision, that might be possible; but the counter offered by the vicar was that it's one thing to do this with a solemnity particular to a parish; another to do it for a solemnity celebrated universally. Also, he argued, Sacred Heart is particularly tied to Friday--the Church designed the calendar so that it always comes up on Friday after all.

Another of the seminarians staying here asked, wouldn't the diocesan bishop have to give permission? Good question.

Well, I'm putting this out for your consideration and comment. I'm interested in two things, somewhat different:

1) Do you have any authoritative source to offer in answering these questions about whether such things can be done, and if so, on whose authority? (pastor, bishop, conference, Holy See?)

2) Do you have an opinion on whether such an option--even if allowed--is desirable.

What do you say?

P.S. I also found this article online, by Father Edward McNamara, that touches on this somewhat. Scan down somewhat, as Father McNamara gives an addendum to his earlier answer.


Fr. Ron Williams said...

As your discern an answer to your original question, you may want to reflect on this one: what is the role of a diocesan bishop as the chief liturgist of his diocese?

Alice said...

Pius XII had something to say about feast days transfered to other days. See Abbey-Roads blog, it's all there.
You can find "good reasons" but it stinks in my opinion. We don't need to be less Catholic but a lot more Catholic.

Grace Leonardi said...

I don't think it's desirable. As English Catholic journalist Joanna Bogle has written, we unconsciously send the message that such feasts aren't important enough to merit a day of their own during the week when we move them to Sunday.

Fr. Williams,

The bishop is not the chief liturgist of his diocese; chief implementer or moderator perhaps.

Rich Leonardi said...

Too funny. That's Rich Leonardi; another family member obviously forgot to sign out from her last session.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I ultimately decided not to do it, after seeking advice from the Archdiocese's worship office.

The advice therefrom was decidedly against.