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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

DURING the very early days it was entirely at the discretion of every priest whether he said daily a plurality of Masses or not (Gavantus, Thesaur. Sacr. Rit., p. 19). It was quite usual to say two Masses, one of the occurring feast, the other for the benefit of the faithful departed. A plurality of Masses, however, was soon restricted to occasions upon which a greater concourse of people than ordinary was gathered by reason of some solemnity. Then, in order to afford all an opportunity of assisting at the Holy Sacrifice, as many Masses as were deemed necessary could be said, and these even by the same priest. Pope Leo III. (ninth century), we are told, said as many as nine Masses on a single day to meet an exigency of this kind (ibid. p. 19). This practice, however, kept gradually falling into desuetude until the time of Pope Alexander II. (from A.D. 1061 to 1073), when that pontiff decreed that no priest should say more than one Mass on the same day. The decree was thus worded: “It is sufficient for a priest to say one Mass the same day, because Christ suffered once and redeemed the whole world. The celebration of one Mass is no small matter, and very happy is the man who can celebrate one Mass worthily” (ibid.) This is the present discipline of the Church in this matter. Faculties, however, are granted to priests in charge of two churches to say Mass in each church on Sunday, in order to give the people an opportunity of complying with the precept requiring them to assist on that day at the Holy Sacrifice. But under no circumstances can more than two be said by the same priest on these occasions. Permission to duplicate may be also had for one church where two Masses are required.








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