Can you say “burnout”?
The Vatican decreed that priests can celebrate as many as four Masses on several important feast days, including Christmas, to accommodate the participation of the faithful.
In a decree published in Latin Dec. 16, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said the decision was made “in view of the situation brought about by the worldwide spread of the pandemic.”
Due to the “persistence of the general contagion of the so-called COVID-19 virus, we willingly grant to the local ordinary permission to celebrate four Masses on Christmas Day (Dec. 25); the feast of Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1) and the feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6),” Sarah wrote.
The concession, he wrote, can be given by bishops whenever deemed “necessary for the benefit of the faithful.”
According to the Code of Canon Law, while a priest “may not celebrate (Mass) more than once a day,” a bishop may “for a good reason allow priests to celebrate twice in one day or even, if pastoral need requires it, three times on Sundays or holy days of obligation.”
The decree would allow for more Catholics to be able to participate at Mass, especially in churches with limited seating due to social distancing measures.
Here’s the thing: while it’s a noble idea to give the faithful more opportunities to attend Mass, the the most devoted and consistent Mass-goers are the elderly, many of whom have been steering clear of church because of COVID. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure giving people more Masses from fewer priests will be that beneficial (although even the most careful of Mass-goers, determined to keep with tradition, might give in and go for Christmas … )