Friday, June 5, 2020
Rubrics for Privileged Votive Masses on First Fridays and Saturdays
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Why do many parishes celebrate a Votive Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart on Friday Fridays or the Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on First Saturdays? In the pre-55 rubrics, may a priest say a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on a First Friday when a feast of simple or higher is on that day? Same with First Saturday - can a Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart take the place of a feast day and have the feast day reduced to a commemoration?


The Celebration of the Mass by Rev. J O'Connell summarizes the uniqueness of these privileged Votive Masses:

The Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart for First Friday, the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for First Saturday, as well as the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ Sovereign and Eternal Priest for First Thursday are Privileged Votive Masses specifically permitted by the Holy See. They are not general private Votive Masses. In detail:

1. The privileged votive Masses are certain votive Masses permitted by the Holy See, or prescribed by the rubrics, not for a grave and public cause, but for an appropriate reason approved by the Holy See, and endowed with certain liturgical privileges.

2. These Masses resemble a solemn votive Mass— they are permitted when a private votive Mass is not, and they follow the rite of a solemn  votive Mass (e.g., they have the Creed) —and so they are described as votive Masses celebrated "ad instar Missae votivae solemnis pro re gravi et simul publica causa."

3. Some of these privileged votive Masses are allowed only when they are solemn Masses, or at least sung, e.g., the Mass for the anniversary of the election or consecration of the bishop, the Mass for the Forty Hours' Prayer others may be celebrated as low Masses, e.g., the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on the First Friday of the month.

4. Most of these privileged votive Masses are treated of in the general rubrics of the Missal; others are dealt with outside the Missal, e.g., the Masses for the Forty Hours' Prayer in the Clementine Instruction, those for the First Friday, or First Thursday of the month, in decrees of S.R.C.

5. Some privileged votive Masses are prescribed by the rubrics, or by a decree of S.R.C., or by command of the Ordinary; others are permitted by the rubrics, S.R.C., or Ordinary, and are in no way of obligation.

So, bearing these rules in mind, In 1889, to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Leo XIII granted this remarkable privilege that: "in those churches or oratories where, on the first Friday of each month, special exercises of piety are, with the approval of the Ordinary of the place, carried out in the morning, the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart may be added to these exercises, provided that on that day no feast of the Lord, or double of the first class, or privileged feria, vigil, or octave falls.

2. This votive Mass is permitted not only in churches, but also in oratories —public, semipublic, or private. The privilege is for the first Friday of the month alone. On any other day the votive Mass of the  Sacred Heart may be said only when private votive Masses are allowed, and only on the conditions which govern such Masses.

3. What the special exercises of piety in honour of the Sacred Heart are to be is not determined. Rubricists give as examples Exposition for a short time with Benediction, the recitation of the Litanies of the Sacred Heart, or of acts of reparation and consecration to the Sacred Heart, a general (or almost general) Communion in honour of the Sacred Heart. These exercises must be carried out in the morning, and be connected with the Mass so as to form morally one act with it. Though the words of the decree "Missa ... addi valeat," suggests that the devotions should precede the Mass, they generally follow it, and rubricists regard this interpretation of the privilege as permissible. (Same goes for First Thursday and First Saturday)

4. Since the consent of the Ordinary of the place is necessary to add lawfully any exercise of devotion to the Mass the decree requires this consent for the devotions in honour of the Sacred Heart. The permission may be given either to individual priests who seek it, or to an entire diocese.

5. One votive Mass only is permitted, and it may be solemn, sung, or even a low Mass. (S.R.C. 3773, 3972) If, however, for some special reason, the exercises of devotion in honour of the Sacred Heart were, with the consent of the Ordinary, repeated for an entirely different congregation, some authorities think that the votive Mass might, with its special privileges, be celebrated a second time.

6. This one votive Mass — even though only a low Mass—is given almost all the privileges of a solemn votive Mass celebrated "pro re gravi et simul publica causa." Accordingly :

(a) It is considered as a sung Mass, and so if there be another sung or Conventual Mass in the same church (oratory), on the same day, the rules of Rubricae Generales VII. 2 and Additiones, V, 4 must be observed ;

(b) The Gloria and Creed are said;

(c) Ordinarily, there will be one prayer only. However, an occurring double of the second class, (the Votive Mass is not permitted on a Duplex I. classis) or an occurring greater feria (i.e., a Friday of Advent or Lent, or a Quarter Tense Friday), must be commemorated —under a different conclusion from the prayers of the Mass" — all such solemn votive Masses pro re gravi. The oratio imperata is omitted, unless it be pro re gravi, then it is to be and under a different conclusion from the prayer of the Mass.

(d) The last Gospel will be that of S. John, except an Office which has been commemorated in the Mass (e.g., a Friday of Lent) has a proper Gospel; then this will be recited (Addit. IX);

(c) The Leonine prayers may be omitted

(f) If the Mass be sung, the festal (solemn) tone for the prayers, Preface, and Pater noster should be used by the Celebrant.

7. The Votive Mass Is Not Permitted:

(1) on any feast of the Lord — this means of the Second Divine Person, "festum Christi Domini," and not of the Triune God, which Dominus sometimes means. The votive Mass is excluded not only on feasts of our Lord that are "of the same mystery" as the Sacred Heart, but on any feast of Christ. Moreover it is excluded on the vigil and — even only a simple octave —of any feast of our Lord, or even when such a feast is commemorated, or should be commemorated but, per accidens, the commemoration is excluded. The votive Mass is, therefore, prohibited on the Feast of the Purification, which is a feast of our Lord but it is not excluded within the octave of the consecration of a church,(the Votive Mass of First Friday is of course, excluded on the feast itself - anniversary - of the Dedication of a church, for this is Duplex I. classis) nor on the octave-day, for this feast is "festum Domini," meaning the Triune God, and not festum Christi Domini.(S.R.C. 4372)
Special Cases :

(a) The first Friday of January: If the first Friday should fall on January 2, 3, or 4, the Mass of the Sacred Heart may not be said. Instead —if a votive Mass be said, and not the Mass of the day— the Mass Puer natus est nobis of December 30, must be chosen. This Mass will, in this case, however, have the privileges of a solemn votive Mass pro re gravi, and so the occurring octave-day (of S. Stephen, or S. John, or the Holy Innocents) will not be commemorated. Neither will the impeded votive Mass of the S. Heart be commemorated,48 for the Mass Puer natus est is a Mass of Christ.

(b) If, in a particular church, the first Friday should fall within the octave of the Circumcision (e.g., in a church which has this mystery as Titular, and so celebrates the feast with an octave) the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart is not permitted. Instead the Mass of the octave of the Circumcision is said, with the privileges of a solemn votive Mass," and without the commemoration of the impeded votive Mass of the Sacred Heart (for the Circumcision is a feast of Christ).

(c) If the first Friday should fall on the Friday which immediately follows the octave of the Ascension — which Friday is liturgically regarded as a feast of Christ — the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart may not be said, even though the feast of a saint be celebrated on that day. If the Mass of a saint be not said, the Mass of the day and not the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart, must be said. In this case, however, the Mass of the day will have the privileges of a solemn votive Mass, and so, e.g., the common prayers' will be omitted.

(2) The votive Mass of First Friday is excluded on a double of the first class, and, naturally, it is prohibited on Good Friday, and on All Souls' Day.

(3) The votive Mass of First Friday is also excluded on a privileged vigil. The only one on which the first Friday could occur is the vigil of the Epiphany, for a first Friday could not occur on the vigil of Christmas, nor could the vigil of Pentecost occur on a Friday.

(4) The votive Mass of First Friday is excluded within all privileged octaves, not within common octaves. The only privileged octave (of the Universal Church) which is not an octave of a feast of our Lord is the octave of Pentecost, and so the votive Mass is excluded, if the first Friday falls within this octave. Decree 3712 says that the votive Mass is excluded on privileged ferias, but the case cannot occur, for these ferias are Ash Wednesday, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week. The votive Mass is not forbidden on other major ferias, i.e., the Fridays of Advent, Lent, Quarter Tense; nor is it prohibited if the Mass of an impeded Sunday is to be "resumed" on a first Friday.

(5) The votive Mass is also excluded in a church where there is but one priest, and where a Conventual Mass must be said, in conformity with the Office of the day. In this case, however, the Conventual Mass will have the privileges of a solemn votive Mass. The votive Mass is also excluded on a Friday which is a suppressed holiday, when there is only one Mass, and this the Missa pro populo.

To conclude, we used First Friday as the primary example but the same applies to First Saturday. And to reiterate and stress - what was just described above are privileged and solemn votives for First Friday and First Saturday and not the rules for General Private Votive Masses.

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