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:
- 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).
- "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.