ASK FATHER: Mass without proper gear? Pusillanimous stingy ignorant pride.

From a reader…


can you have catholic mass without candles


307. The candles, which are required at every liturgical service out of reverence and on account of the festivity of the celebration (cf. no. 117), are to be appropriately placed either on or around the altar in a way suited to the design of the altar and the sanctuary so that the whole may be well balanced and not interfere with the faithful’s clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed on it.

First, sit a little closer to your keyboard so that you can reach those punctuation keys.

Candles must be used for Mass.  That’s clear.

What’s also clear that is Mass can be celebrated without them.  Absolutely required are the properly ordained priest and valid matter for the Eucharist.  Vestments and candles and so forth are required by the rubrics, but if they are lacking, Mass could still be celebrated validly.

Analogously, even though you sent a mere sentence fragment with no capitalization or punctuation, I understood that you were trying to ask a question.  It didn’t show much respect for orthography or the reader, but even in it’s minimalist form it eked out its message.  Similarly, neglecting to use proper vestments, vessels, candles, etc., could “get the job done” in a minimal sense of what is required, but it shows little respect for our Catholic identity, which is tied up with our rites, or for the congregation, who deserve care and true liturgical worship.

That said, writing an email is one thing, while the Church’s sacred liturgical rites for the most precious thing we have, the Eucharist, is quite another.  The former is not nearly as weighty as the latter.

If in some situation where there are no candles available, or the wind or other conditions are such that it would be impossible to use them, Mass could still be celebrated, and celebrated reverently provided we do our best.  The same goes for certain vestments for Mass or other accoutrement.  Think about a windy deck of a battleship steaming across the Pacific to face the Japanese fleet or in the Channel heading for France.

That doesn’t justify not using candles under normal circumstances.

The refusal to use proper furnishings for Mass, to use candles and proper vestments, etc., is a sign of spiritual immaturity and pride, a pusillanimous stinginess that knows nothing of what is being wrought in the sacred liturgical action.

You can’t use what you don’t have, and you are not bound to the impossible.  But we are bound to do our best. Ultra posse nemo obligatur.

Look how these men did their best. Do you think for a moment that they would have said, “Candles? Nah!”, if they had them and could light them?

Hey! Look! Candles!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)

2 Responses to ASK FATHER: Mass without proper gear? Pusillanimous stingy ignorant pride.

  1. frjimt says:

    One of our priests, recently deceased, Msgr Joe Dooley, had a picture of him celebrating Holy Mass on the front of a jeep during the 2nd World War. Having visited with him while serving with the Bishop, he delighted in recounting the joy of bringing the sacraments to the soldiers in wartime. He would always use candles, even if the wind blew them out!

  2. Some of the most well-celebrated Masses I have ever attended had no candles lit. The elderly priest, who got up very early and traveled to the parish in all kinds of weather to offer daily Mass (and who has since gone on to his reward), was on oxygen and could not be near open flames.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Sheepdog094 says:

    Great repost with great original comments. It’s so easy to be a Catholic the right way

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