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Monday, February 7, 2011


From Fr. Z over at WDTPRS:

From a reader:
Is there any way for the celebrant of a Mass to inform other clergy that he prefer that they NOT con-celebrate with him without offending them or seeming to be ultra-conservative or rejecting the accepted practice? Con-celebration seems to be obligatory whenever clergy are invited for a celebration. Attendance in choir dress seems to be non-existent.
You have come, perhaps, to the wrong corner for advice about anything having to do with concelebration.
WDTPRS thinks that concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.
Or maybe that is why you are asking me…. hmmm…
In any event, I think it is very hard for you to say anything, especially if you …
a) are not the locum tenens,
b) have not put it about ahead of time that there will be no concelebration,
c) are in a circle where the priests rush every altar, lemming-like, in their shapeless off-white moo-moos and finger-painted stoles no matter how many Masses they have already (con)celebrated that same day, so that they can stare about in fraternity with as little attention to this Mass as any other that they have …. okay… I am ranting.
If you aren’t the pastor of the place, or the guy who calls the shots, I think you have to keep your mouth shut and permit it. Even if you are the guy in charge, you probably have to permit it.  In some circumstances you have to invite it as well (funerals, for instance – it is simply expected by priests these days).
Similarly, you could, when notes are sent around about a Mass, indicate that there will be no concelebration.  Instead, come in cassock and surplice with biretta (stoles to be provided for communicating priests).  That ought to make some of them scratch their heads.  And it won’t win friends.
I suppose you could make a little speech, if you dare, about how concelebration is not foreseen at this Mass.  If any priest has not said Mass or has no other occasion, you would be happy to set up afterward and serve the Masses for the priests who otherwise would not have the opportunity.  I think such a speech would be met with confused and unhappy stares.
If you are worried about keeping the rubrics tidy, without the usual interlopers milling about, you could sequester concelebrants near, but not at, the altar.
This is all quite awkward.  There are good reasons to concelebrate.  There are good reasons not to have it.  I will not discount the reason of convenience.  Plainly, if you have a whole bunch of priests in one place, it is concelebration is convenient.  If you are a guest and the locum tenens isn’t inclined to help you out, well… concelebrate with a good attitude and smile.
You are going to be up against a certain mentality.
Even quite sensible priests, priests who ought to know better, have strange ideas about concelebration.  They would even constrain or look down on, or even gossip about, priests who for one reason or another chose not to.  I remember an occasion when I accompanied an old priest to a large Mass and he had the intention of being in choir without concelebrating.  One person after another harangued him and badgered him him, trying to get him to go along with everyone else, until he finally leaned in and said into one importunate fellow’s vacant face “I’m in the state of moral sin.”   That shut him up.
Anyway, this is an uphill battle
It is going to take a while to move away from the lemming-like approach to concelebration.  Young priests will be taking over soon.  They are more flexible and far less ideological.
To be clear, if I am with a group of priests, for example, in a fraternal setting such as an annual meeting of a priests’ group I belong to, I am okay with concelebration.  Holy Thursday, most ordinations, some occasions with the local bishop or one’s own bishop, funerals of priests …
Safe, legal and rare.
Very hard to do this, friend.  Very hard to say to a priest he can’t concelebrate in the Ordinary Form.
Perhaps priest readers…. priests mind you… have some suggestions.  I frankly have zero interest in the opinions of lay people insofar as this question is concerned.  This is priest stuff.  Lay people: don’t bother commenting.  Really.  You can eavesdrop.  That includes seminarians and deacons.  Bishops and priests only.  Some priests will want to defend concelebration.  Okaaaaaay… if you must.  Yes, we know that Eastern Catholic priests concelebrate.

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