Acknowledging a growing priest shortage in the Belleville Diocese, Bishop Edward K. Braxton has released a letter that says parishes may begin having "Sunday Celebrations" led by a deacon or layperson instead of a Mass celebrated by a priest.
The Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest rite can be used in emergency situations.
The rite may include reception of Holy Communion, which fulfills the Sunday obligation for parishioners. However, the Eucharistic Prayer, including the consecration at a regular Mass, is not part of this rite.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. A communion service does not fulfill the Sunday obligation. If a Mass in unavailable because of a lack of a priest the Sunday obligations is automatically dispensed. Saying otherwise is misleading. I would think for example if there is a parish that is reasonably close that does have a real Mass then going to a Communion service instead would be wrong, especially if the person knew they should go to the Mass instead. In this situation the Bishop is aware of this and it is just lousy reporting by the newspaper.
"According to the directions we have received from the Bishop, this won’t be used that often," said the Rev. Mark Stec, a priest who serves four parishes in Southern Illinois. "The bishop must approve its use every time and its use will be very restricted. It will be used during an emergency situation only."
And then there is:
Ann Harter, a member of St. Luke’s parish in Belleville and a member of the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity, believes the restrictions on who can be a priest has created the priest shortage and the need to implement Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest.
"The fact is, there aren’t enough priests and the ones we have are stretched to the limit, but the church won’t open its eyes to the wealth of highly qualified men and women eligible for ordination," Harter said. "The problem is, they will not consider the possibility of priests other than celibate males."
Even if Sunday services at her church were performed by a deacon or layperson instead of a priest, she would still attend, because she believes it’s not the priest who makes the celebration, but the congregation.
Even odds she went to a Catholic school. Such bad theology unfortunately is all too common where so much emphasis was placed on the communal aspects and about zero on the sacramental aspects and the requirement of a priest to be able to offer a sacrifice.
"In my view, the people who are gathered there, ordained or not, are the ones who give the Eucharist its meaning," Harter said. "In my opinion, what makes the Eucharist the Eucharist is that the people gather and share."
Sorry the Eucharist is something more than just a meaning it is a sacramental reality and it is real whether the Mass is celebrated in private by a priest or within the context of the congregation. I wonder if she thinks that the more people there art that it then has more meaning it has. Wow those papal masses must have real meaning in her vocabulary.