Q: If a conference of bishops has decided not to include the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, on the national calendar, and a diocese wishes to add it to its particular diocesan calendar:
- What would the status of the observance be for that Diocese?
- What liturgical texts should be used (votive Mass for Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest found in Roman Missal: Third Edition or new ICEL texts approved for the feast by the Conference of Bishops)?
Thank you for this kind consideration.
A: Well, each diocese may have days of prayer (GIRM 373), but these are envisioned as Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, not as Votive Masses.
Each priest has the authority to celebrate a votive mass on a day of his choosing, as long as it is a ferial day or optional memorial in Ordinary Time (GIRM 375). A diocese could recommend that priests do this.
However, a diocese may devise a particular calendar, and certain days naturally take the rank of feast in the opening numbers of the Table of Liturgical Days. For “pastoral reasons” another day may be assigned as a feast – if I’m reading this correctly: General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar 54. Changing the rank of a liturgical day would require the Apostolic See (Norms 55), but the diocese in question may get by with a generous interpretation of 54.
Regarding the texts, the missal’s votive mass has been approved for every English-speaking conference, but not the feast day texts. So I presume that the diocese would have to use the votive mass unless it obtained permission from the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to use the ones completed by ICEL.