Thursday, 28 June 2012

Is a Vigil Mass legit?

"A Mass or not a Mass? - that is the question"

Today we observe the Vigil of the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul and, for those of us who suffer under the Bishops of England and Wales (with their sparse attention to the needs of their more traditionally inclined faithful), a Mass in the Extraordinary Form can often be hard to find (on a Sunday or on a Holyday).

Priests are hard pressed  and, on many occasions,  cannot offer an EF Mass on the due day because of pressure of OF Mass schedules and other pastoral duties.

Under such circumstances it seems sensible to attend a Vigil Mass if one is on offer; after all, better to have a Mass on the eve of a Feast rather than no Mass at all.

But, there are some Catholic organisations who do not appear to subscribe to pragmatism and they refuse to place Vigil Masses on their Mass listings.

I feel a vote coming on so please check in the sidebar and express your view on the matter.

Further comment on this matter may be seen at A Reluctant Sinner blog


  1. The vigil Mass is quite different. I said the Vigil Mass this morning, in purple. It certainly does not fulfil the Obligation. Do you mean an anticipated Mass, rather than a Vigil Mass? If you mean an anticipated Mass, then surely one can't do that in the EF, because of the EF Vigil Mass, which is a penitential preparation for the feast.

  2. Ratzingercdf - No Father, I do mean a Vigil Mass.
    When no other EF Mass is available surely that would be licit?

  3. Richard,
    I was always taught that all Major Feasts had a Vigil Mass on the preceding Day or Evening , which does not fulfill the required Mass Obligation, however in the NO Parishes they have highjacked the terminology Vigil/Anticipated! I have never known even before Vatican 11 the celebration of an anticipated TLM to fulfill the Obligation except maybe on a battlefield etc; as before that dreadful Council there were plenty of Masses celebrated at various and different times to accommodate the Faithful needs-often each priest would celebrate a maximum of three Masses!

    God Bless,


  4. Michael - if ever we were on a battlefield, it is now. God bless.

  5. It is a shame that many Catholics now seem to equate Vigil Masses with what are also called 'anticipatory' Masses.

    It would be wonderful if the whole Church could go back to the old tradition of a (penitential) Vigil followed by its Feast. I wonder why post-Conciliar hijackers decided to abolish the vast majority of vigils? (I am currently reading Michael Davies' Pope Paul's New Mass, so hope to find out what shenanigans were behind it all).

    My guess is, if you cannot get to Mass for the Feast itself then attending the Vigil Mass would at least show intent to celebrate the actual feast, even if it doesn't fulfil the obligation. Strangely, the parish I am in had a 'vigil' (OF) Mass of SS Peter & Paul this evening - but it was actually an 'anticipatory' Mass (attendance at which fulfilled one's obligation!).

    Considering the difficult and missionary type situation we traditional Catholics currently find ourselves in, maybe Ecclesia Dei could publish some ruling stating that for those unable to get to a Mass on the Feast, attendance at the (EF) Vigil Mass would be enough to fulfil one's obligation?

    Please God, I'll be able to go to Pontifical High Mass at St Mary Moorfields tomorrow evening (organised by Juventutem). I will say a prayer for you when I'm there.

  6. Ahem:

    "Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass."

    I cite canon law reluctantly, because it is far from my field and I am conscious of the risk of error (although the canon seems clear enough to me). But I have long understood that assisting at mass on the day or its eve, irrespective of the rite or of the celebration, satisfies the obligation. This, of course, is very important for those of us attached to tradition, who sometimes miss mass on the proper day of a feast (for example, of the Ascension), and assist at mass of the Sunday on the Sunday (e.g. that after the Ascension). It's also pertinent to travellers, because of the variety of practices in different places as regards the calendar and days of obligation. As a travelling traditionalist, therefore, it matters a lot to me.

    Of course, this is to say nothing about whether things would be better otherwise, but I think is answers the question "Is a Vigil Mass legit?" clearly, and in the affirmative. Faithful catholics can assist at vigil masses, on vigil days, and satisfy their obligations, with clear consciences.