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CNP Feedback - Labor Day Mass?

Q. Dear CNP:

In your comments about Memorial Day Masses you did not mention a proper Mass for Labor Day. At least these propers are printed in the Weekday Missal (New Saint Joseph Complete Edition, 2002, Vol. II, pages 542-547). I assume these propers are approved by USCCB. Are there Labor Day propers in the new Roman Missal?

B. Labor de Pointe

A. Dear Monsieur de Pointe:

Thank you for your comments about the Feedback Article on Memorial Day Masses.

As I mentioned in that article, while Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day have distinct Mass Propers and Orations, both Memorial Day and Labor Day do not. Other "minor" civil holidays, like New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Patriot Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, also have no particular Mass setting.

On any "ferial weekday" (green vestments) or on Optional Memorials, the priest always has the choice of using a Mass for Various Needs as found in the new Roman Missal. One of these (#26) is called For the Sanctification of Human Labor. This certainly would be appropriate on Labor Day, and these may be what is listed in the Saint Joseph Weekday Missal.

In 2012, however, Labor Day falls on September 3, which is the Obligatory Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great. Technically, a Mass for Various Needs is not allowed on September 3 — one is "obliged" (hence obligatory) to celebrate the saint. The US bishops (through their Committee on Divine Worship) have the following note on the US liturgical calendar for September 3:

Sep 3, 2012 Mon Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church – memorial

[For pastoral advantage, the Mass For the Blessing of Human Labor may be used for Labor Day. Readings are of the day (no. 431), or may be taken from the Lectionary for Ritual Masses (vol. IV), nos. 907-911]

Weekday Readings: 1 Cor 2:1-5/Lk 4:16-30 (431)

If it were up to me, though, I would celebrate the Mass for Saint Gregory the Great and perhaps make mention of Labor Day in the homily and in the intercessions of the Universal Prayer. One should be careful about placing civil celebrations over the obligatory celebrations of the Universal Church.

A similar note appears for Thanksgiving Day, which in 2012 falls on the Obligatory Memorial of Saint Cecilia (November 22):

Nov 22, 2012 Thu Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr – memorial

[For pastoral advantage, the proper Mass of Thanksgiving Day may be used. Readings are of the day (no. 500), or may be taken from the Lectionary for Ritual Masses (vol. IV), nos. 943-947 (see esp. Sir 50:22-24 [943.2]/1 Cor 1:3-9 [944.1]/Lk 17:11-19 [947.6])]

Weekday Readings: Rv 5:1-10/Lk 19:41-44 (500)

On Thanksgiving Day I might be tempted to use the "quasi-indult" that seems to be inherent in these USCCB notices — even though, as a musician, I have a particular devotion to Saint Cecilia. If I were to "rank" all the civil observances hierarchically, I would certainly put Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day at the top [of the civil hierarchy, that is — a kind of "secular solemnity"]. The US bishops were of a similar mind when they permanently moved the Optional Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal from July 4 to July 5 in the US, so it would never conflict with the desire to celebrate Independence Day. Such a solution is not possible with Thanksgiving Day, which is not tied to a specific date but floats through various numerical dates as the Fourth Thursday in November. There's no way to permanently avoid those saints which might pose conflicts [Saint Cecilia on November 22 or Saint Andrew Dung-Lac & Companions on November 24].

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

CanticaNOVA Publications / PO Box 1388 / Charles Town, WV 25414-7388
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