Q: I was told that a Mass is being offered this Saturday (Holy Sat.) at a local hospital by a Catholic priest at 3:30pm. The caller asked if it counts for Sunday. I know that normally masses aren’t to be offered on Holy Saturday until much later, 8pm this year in our diocese. Is there an exception clause of some sort for hospital situations that I’m unaware of?
A: I really think that that mass should not happen. The only mass allowed on Holy Saturday is the Easter Vigil. It would not be appropriate at a hospital. The missal says this under paragraph 3 of the Sacred Paschal Triduum:
“The celebrations of the Sacred Triduum are to be carried out in cathedral and parochial churches and only in those churches in which they can be performed with dignity, that is, with a good attendance of the faithful, an appropriate number of ministers, and the means to sing at least some of the parts. Consequently, it is desirable that small communities, associations, and special groups of various kinds join together in these churches to carry out the sacred celebrations in a more noble manner.”
The priest has the option of offering vespers of Holy Saturday or the rosary or some other devotion. Communion may be distributed only to the dying, so he cannot even do a communion service for people healthy enough to come to the hospital chapel.