Q: Please also remind me of the current position regarding a priest offering a private mass and whether given the current crisis doing so is appropriate? I am concerned that a communal act of worship becomes a private devotion and that offering a so called ‘private’ mass reinforces clericalism, something from which many priests and some bishops are trying to distance themselves. Why not offer the Liturgy of the Hours for our people.
A: Canon 906 says a priest should not celebrate mass without at least one other person present unless there is a good and reasonable cause. The missal includes a special order of mass for this circumstance. It’s just before the eucharistic prayers for reconciliation. It’s not recommended, but during the COVID 19 pandemic, it will probably get more use than it has in many centuries.
Mass with a single minister assisting isn’t really clericalism, at least not these days. It’s a priest trying to do what he can to give God thanks and offer this sacrifice. The Liturgy of the Hours is another great way to pray at this time.