The celebration of Mass on weekdays is an established part of the liturgical life of our parishes. Even though nowadays, with declining numbers of priests, it is not universal, some form of daily liturgical celebration based on the scripture readings and prayers appointed for each day is to be recommended. It guarantees that our Churches are places enlivened by a heartbeat of liturgical prayer in union with the whole Church.
Weekday Mass should never just be a "routine". When one examines the texts the Church has selected for weekdays, it is often easier to enter into a particular Season. There is a richness in the changing texts of weekdays which should never be underestimated. This is a "treasury" that the Church offers to us, and of which we in parishes and other communities should make full use.
Weekday Mass Sheets
In order to aid participation in the weekday Eucharist, we have prepared these simple A4 sheets which reproduce the antiphons, scripture references and notes on the saints. Communities and individuals are free to print out and reproduce these sheets. The same texts are used both for daily Mass and for Celebrations of Word and Communion.
Please note that occasionally a parish will celebrate a different feast (such as a Patron Saint or Anniversary of Dedication of the Church) which may have different texts.
From the "Homiletic Directory" 2014
150. The custom of celebrating the Eucharist daily is a great source of holiness for Catholics of the Roman Rite, and pastors should encourage their people to participate in daily Mass if at all possible. Pope Benedict urges the homilist “to offer at weekday Masses cum populo brief and timely reflections which can help the faithful to welcome the word which was proclaimed and to let it bear fruit in their lives” (VD 59). The daily Eucharist is less solemn than the Sunday liturgy, and it should be celebrated in such a way that people who have responsibilities of family and work can avail themselves of the opportunity to attend daily Mass; hence the need for the homily on such occasions to be brief. On the other hand, because many people come to daily Mass regularly, there is an opportunity for the homilist to preach about a particular book of the Bible over the course of time in a way that the Sunday celebration does not allow.
151. A homily at daily Mass is encouraged particularly in the liturgical seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. The readings for these seasons have been chosen with care, and the principles are given in the Introduction of the Lectionary: For Advent, n. 94; for Christmas, n. 96; for Lent, n. 98; for Easter, n. 101. Familiarity with these principles can aid the homilist when preparing his brief daily remarks.
152. The Introduction of the Lectionary makes a point about the readings in Ordinary Time to which the preacher must be attentive when preparing weekday liturgies: The arrangement of weekday readings provides texts for every day of the week throughout the year. In most cases, therefore, these readings are to be used on their assigned days, unless a solemnity, a feast, or else a memorial with proper readings occurs. In using the Order of Readings for weekdays attention must be paid to whether one reading or another from the same biblical book will have to be omitted because of some celebration occurring during the week. With the arrangement of readings for the entire week in mind, the priest in that case arranges to omit the less significant passages or combines them in the most appropriate manner with other readings, if they contribute to an integral view of a particular theme (82). Thus, the homilist is encouraged to review the readings for the entire week and make adaptations to the sequence of readings when it is interrupted by a special celebration. Although the weekday homily is brief, it should be carefully prepared in advance. Experience teaches that a short homily often requires additional preparation.
153. When the Lectionary provides a proper reading for the celebration of a saint, this must be used. In addition, readings may be chosen from the Commons if there is reason to give greater attention to a saint’s celebration. But the Introduction of the Lectionary cautions: “The first concern of a priest celebrating with a congregation is the spiritual benefit of the faithful and he will be careful not to impose his personal preference on them. Above all he will make sure not to omit too often or without sufficient cause the readings assigned for each day in the weekday Lectionary: the Church’s desire is that a more lavish table of the word of God be spread before the faithful.” (83).
The Celebration of Weekdays
In the very earliest days of the Church there was no such thing as “weekday Mass” - Mass (the Eucharist) was only celebrated on a Sunday, in memory of the resurrection of Jesus. This did not mean that people did nothing during the week! The earliest tradition was that they would take Holy Communion home from Sunday Mass in order to receive it each day during the week. So even in the early Church there it was important to celebrate the Eucharist, in some way, every day of the week if possible.
As the centuries passed, gradually Mass began to be celebrated on certain weekdays; before too long Mass was being celebrated on every day of the week, and people would be able to receive communion daily in church.
It was only after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that daily Mass was given a real boost: previously it was up to the priest to choose the texts for the daily Mass (unless it was an important feast): this would often mean the same Votive Mass for the Dead being celebrated every day! The Council gave a new importance to daily Mass, by allocating Bible readings and prayers for every day of the year, and by reorganising the Calendar of Saints so that they too could be celebrated.
So the situation today is that the Church considers it a wonderful thing (if possible) to celebrate Mass every day: people are encouraged to go day by day, to follow the reading of the Scriptures and celebrate the saints and feasts through the year. When we celebrate Mass it is called “nourishment”: to celebrate day by day with hearts open to God’s word, and spirits open to Christ’s presence is surely one of the greatest ways of growing in the strength and grace of God!
As well as being an opportunity to be nourished by Word and Sacrament, daily Mass is also a chance for the Parish community to be strengthened. We come together to this daily celebration, forging friendships and bonds of care and concern for each other: we grow as the Church. It is wonderful when other activities (such as coffee mornings, days out, lunches) flow from the daily Mass in a Parish.
Daily Mass is also a privileged place for the community to exercise other functions: funerals, for example. The presence, example and prayers of “ordinary” parishioners are of great practical and spiritual help to priests and families at a Funeral Mass: it is also a rich symbol of what we are meant to be as the Church — a community of faith, prayer and concern. Those who worship regularly can make a wonderful place where mourners are welcomed.
If prayer is to be a heartbeat of our private lives, then daily worship (especially the Mass) is a “public” heartbeat of our Parish communities.
It is not always possible to attend Mass daily: many cannot do so, because they work during the day, or find it difficult to travel. In the present time fewer priests inevitably means fewer Masses: many Parishes in our Diocese will not have Mass every day of the week. As always, the rule here must be: “do what you can”. Realise the value of the Mass whenever and wherever it is celebrated. If you can be part of that celebration, rejoice in it! If not, then find a moment each day to “spiritually unite yourself” with the Mass being celebrated.