Bostonians of a certain age will remember an old TV commercial for the clothing store T.J. Maxx with the tag line of “Get the max for the minimum.” I was reminded of that while reading the reply of Fr. Selvester at “Shouts in the Piazza” to a BustedHalo.com column “Catholic Do’s and Don’ts: A Guide for Wedding Guests.” Among the witticisms and etiquette pointers, the BH writer, Dr. Christine Whelan, says the following:
If you are attending a Catholic nuptial wedding on a Saturday at 4 p.m. or
later, you’ve just landed a twofer: It’s a full Mass, and while it’s sort of distracting (you are thinking about your friends getting married, and probably not as focused as usual on the words that the priest is saying) it still counts.”
Uh no. As Fr. Selvester points out that this isn’t necessarily true and even were it true it panders to the worst instincts of most Catholics: What is the absolute minimum I can do and still be a good Catholic?
Too many Catholics are looking to get out of as much as they possibly can and only do that which is absolutely required. I doubt very much that too many Catholics will encounter a nuptial mass being celebrated after 4, PM on a Saturday anyway. My point is that while it may fulfill the absolute letter of the law that one attend mass each Sunday (and, of course we define Sunday as beginning at sundown on Saturday) attending a wedding as your Sunday mass hardly fulfills the spirit of the law.
He also points out that it isn’t the time and date of the Mass that matters when fulfilling the Sunday obligation as what the Mass is intended to be.
The prayers and the readings of the Sunday mass are different than those one would hear at a nuptial mass. The very rare case might be a couple who agrees to be married within the context of a Sunday mass…something I’ve never yet encountered. It is the prayers and readings that are particular to the Sunday celebration that cause one to have attended Sunday mass rather than the fact that it may have taken place after 4, PM (or whatever time their local diocese approves). So, I would put it to Catholics that if they attend a nuptial mass at 4, PM on a Saturday then they should indeed still attend Sunday mass as they have not celebrated the Sabbath.
The Min-Max Gospel
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