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Update: as stated by brasshat's answer below, the Good Friday mass is not celebrated in the Roman Catholic world. Naturally, this makes the answer to my question apparently trivial. It is not totally trivial though, because there are other rites in the Catholic Church (e.g. Maronite), which use a different calendar. In any case, to move further, take out such voluntary exceptions (i.e. self-imposed) from the calendar year, and assume a year that moves from Good Thursday immediately to Holy Saturday.

This post has two questions:

  1. Imagine you pick a random minute of a random day of a random week of last year (2016). Was there a mass in a Catholic Church or Monastery being celebrated?

I am inclined to say yes, but I'm not sure how to confirm this. For timezones ranging from the West cost of the US to Japan, I would say we have fairly good confidence that masses are being held every morning, and maybe evenings, in every time zone, as they go through fairly a lot of countries with relatively large Catholic populations. I think there might be more issues with UTC +11 (toward the East end of Russia), UTC -8 (Alaska), and UTC -11 to UTC -9 (mainly the Pacific Ocean, and small islands). But, if there is a lot of diversity across mass times among Catholic churches/monasteries (some in the morning, others in the afternoon, and others in the evening; see below), maybe they can compensate for those timezones without much Catholic presence.

Are you aware of any formal analysis of this? I find nothing online. Maybe using some online website like this global registrar, this search tool, this, or this one. The latter show a lot of daily RC masses, at many times, even in cities like London (not "particularly" Catholic densely populated).

  1. "Naturally", Catholic masses were not held every minute of, say, 100 AD. If the answer to the first question is yes, since when are Catholic masses held every minute?

For instance, take the year 1450 AD, before Catholic missionaries set out to establish monasteries and churches in America and the "Far East". Here, we could say that Catholic population was widely distributed between UTC +0 (Portugal) to UTC +6 (West of Russia). Let us assume that Catholic masses started in Portugal at 7 am local time, and finished in Russia at 6pm local time. From the Portuguese perspective (UTC), there was a mass from 7 am until 1 am (which is when the last time Russian mass finished, assuming it lasted one hour). This means that in 1450 AD there was no mass for at least 6 hours of the 24 hour day.

So, my guess here is that at some point, once the West of now-US/then-Mexico (UTC -6) was finally conquered by the Spaniards, and Catholic churches and monasteries were established, we could be more or less sure a Catholic mass was celebrated at all times of the day, every week, and year. This might have happened between the XVI and XVII centuries. Provided that no major global disruption affected mass times (e.g. World Wars), then this would define the lower barrier to since when Catholic masses have been continuously celebrated.

  • From some time in the 16th century until some time in the 20th, Mass in the Latin Rite was only allowed to be celebrated between an hour before dawn and an hour after noon (w/ a few exceptions like Midnight Mass at Christmas) – eques Nov 2 '18 at 19:22
  • @eques Really?? Do you have a reference for this? Sounds interesting! – luchonacho Nov 3 '18 at 10:54
  • so this Motu propio of Pius XII in 1957 explicitly gives the right for every Ordinary (Bishop) to permit Mass to be celebrated after midday ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P12FAST.HTM – eques Nov 5 '18 at 14:39
  • @luchonacho The rule is stated in c. 821 § 1 CIC/1917. With that in mind I think the begin of "eternal mass" should be around 1957. BTW: Eastern Catholic Churches won't help. They have only the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at weekdays in lent - so no "real" mass. – K-HB Jan 27 at 13:42
  • @luchonacho To prove that there was a minute in 1956 when no mass were celebrated we would need the times of all masses (probably esp. in Australia), what we don't have. It could even be that in that minute a German priest said mass against the rules secretly. So we can ony assume. – K-HB Jan 27 at 13:51
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No. There is no mass celebrated on Good Friday, in any Catholic church, anywhere.

It is an obligation of every Roman Priest to say Mass every day, except for the noted exception for Good Friday, when no mass is celebrated. I once asked a Jesuit Priest of my acquaintance, and now of blessed memory, what happened in places like some monasteries and large parishes, where there were more Priests than available altars, how this was accommodated, and he told me that in his early years after ordination, he would arise at one in the morning, to day mass to fullfil his obligation, and that there were priests celebrating at nearly every hour of the day.

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    Elementary my dear Watson! Notice you are assuming that at some point it is Good Friday simultaneously in the whole world, which you have not formally proven. Also, I updated the question, as this exception is clearly uninteresting, as it is a voluntary choice by the RC church. – luchonacho May 7 '17 at 11:35
  • When a priest celebrates Gregorian Masses (30 days) for the repose a faithful departed, Good Friday is exempt from the count and a priest is not obliged to start over. – Ken Graham May 8 '17 at 10:58
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    > It is an obligation of every Roman Priest to say Mass every day Not actually an obligation, at least not universally. A religious order priest is often obligated by the constitutions to offer Mass daily and otherwise it is strongly encouraged – eques Nov 2 '18 at 19:21
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    Catholic Churches using a different calendar (e.g. Maronite) mean some masses were still celebrated. – luchonacho Jan 29 at 8:08
  • @luchonacho Good Friday in Gregorian Calendar is in Great Lent (or Good Friday too) in Julian Calendar. As Eastern Catholic Churches (or at least Bycantine Rite Churches) have only the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at weekdays in Great Lent there won't be any "real" mass at this day in most years. – K-HB Feb 25 at 18:57

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