LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Why, O Why . . ?

Do Priests concelebrate when they don’t have to ?

I understand that there are occasions when it’s necessary (or at least appropriate) to do so : but why is it that, even when it’s totally unnecessary, so many priests still seem to feel that it’s in some way better for them to concelebrate than to say individual Masses ?

If you go to the London Oratory on a Saturday morning, there will be at least three or four ‘private’ (as opposed to publicly scheduled) Masses - sometimes, with visiting priests, many more than that - and the holiness in the Church is absolutely palpable.

At Westminster Cathedral, on the other hand, although they have at least as many resident priests, there are the public Masses . . . and that’s basically all; none of the side Chapels is ever used for a Mass (at least, not that I’ve seen in recent years). Instead, what you get is two or three priests concelebrating at one public mass.

I know the answer, ultimately – it’s part of the ‘Vatican II’ legacy - the idea that the unity of the Church was better shown by having a few larger celebrations, in which everyone was gathered together : and that is how it has stayed, despite His Holiness’ suggestion that concelebration was not always appropriate.

However; if you have several Masses, you increase the opportunity for the Faithful to hear Mass – even if they don’t receive Holy Communion – and to gain graces for themselves and the Holy Souls; you increase devotion; and you increase the overall sense of the sacred with no extra effort on the part of the clergy.

I never knew Westminster Cathedral in the days when all those chapels were in use two or three times every morning : but I can practically guarantee you this much – it felt a good deal holier in there then than it does now !

Fathers : it takes no longer to say your own Mass than to concelebrate; but the benefit to the faithful is huge. Please, I beg you; don’t just take the easy option, but think of the people, and say that individual Mass !


  1. Greetings,

    It is easier than finding an altar server for the private Mass.

  2. With respect, it's possible to celebrate the Extraordinary Form without a server; so it's surely possible to celebrate the Ordinary Form that way ?

  3. The late Msgr. Gilbey (former chaplain to Cambridge University) said that he thought concelebration looks likes a collection of priests giving the Nazi salutes.

  4. Dear Mgr Gilbey ! A man of forthright views, but with enormous charity, and a tremendous influence for good for so many years - 100 Terms at Cambridge, if I remember correctly.
    O si sic omnes !

  5. I have been present at masses celebrated in side chapels at Westminster Cathedral on two or three occasions - sometime in the last four years. So, yes it does happen- these were regular weekday masses. I agree, however, that the enthusiasm of priests for concelebration seems strange.