Friday, April 24, 2009

Lent and Celebration

Q - My parish priest who was ordained during Lent in 1999 celebrated his 10th anniversary on a Friday. Was it proper that the GLORIA be sung at his anniversary Mass? The concelebrating priests were wearing white. Is purple not the color in Lent? Some parishioners had a party it his honor after Mass. Can you really have a celebration during Lent? His dinner had wine and red meat. I thought eating meat on Friday is not permissible.

A - Thanks for the questions. We do not celebrate fully during the Lenten season, even when we celebrate our liturgy. The reason is that the season calls for repentance and fasting. One way to look at these parts of the Mass being taken out is in order for us as a Church to fast from certain joyful celebratory parts of the liturgy.

But, there are exceptions to the Lenten penitential season in our liturgical celebrations. When there is a solemnity (St. Joseph and the Annunciation are regularly in Lent) the Church celebrates with the Gloria, Alleluia, the creed, and no fasting (with the exception of singing alleluia as the Gospel acclamation). Also, when celebrating the patron saint of a parish's feast day, it becomes a solemnity and is an exception. Lastly, the Gloria can be sung on a feast day in addition to solemnities.

The celebration of a priest's anniversary of his ordination is neither a solemnity or a feast. The Sacramentary (under the section "Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions" has the directions for a priest celebrating his ordination. For the entire section it reads:
Masses for various needs and occasions are celebrated in the color proper to the day or the season or in violet if they bear a penitential character
So, the Mass, as you describe it, was probably not liturgically proper, nor was the eating of meat (unless a special dispensation from the Bishop was granted for the celebration). There is nothing wrong with having wine on a Friday of Lent.

While the desire for a Mass which is properly celebrated is a good thing, be careful not to become so distracted in playing the "liturgical cop" role that it takes away from our celebration of the Eucharist.

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