The interview. Giardina (CEI): “” Summer “Masses: possible exceptions but no sloppiness”


The interview.  Giardina (CEI): “” Summer “Masses: possible exceptions but no sloppiness”
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Giardina (CEI): «Messe


“There are rules. And then there are particular events that can affect their applications. Without going into the merits of what happened in Calabria – the archdiocese of Crotone-Santa Severina has already done it -, I just say that the important thing is to always express the nobility and beauty of the celebration in a context of respect and common sense, and using a sober gesture. It is a discourse that applies to the places, the objects that are used and to the very corporeality of man ». Don Alberto Giardina, director of the national liturgical office of the CEI for two months, sheds light on how to celebrate Mass in “summer” situations. The Calabrian case, we recall, concerns a Mass celebrated on a mat in the sea, for which the Milanese priest, now also the subject of an investigation by the Crotone prosecutor’s office, apologized.

How far can you go to celebrate when you move away from traditional contexts?

The criteria are drawn from the liturgical books and from the general arrangement of the Roman Missal. The law requires that Mass be celebrated in a church, in a dedicated place or, in any case, where the community usually gathers. But there may be other pastoral needs.


They are those dictated by some experiences of which the Church is rich: for example when you live in a Scout or AC camp, or when you meet groups of families: in these cases it is possible to celebrate in places other than buildings of worship. But always respecting the dignity of the celebration.

Under what conditions?

The true, beautiful and good things that are necessary must be used. It is necessary to follow the criteria so well recalled also in the apostolic letter of Pope Francis, Desire you wished, which highlights how important it is to recreate that sense of wonder and beauty of the ritual every time. In short, the relevance of our celebration must be respected, while improvisation is to be excluded.

It can be suggestive to celebrate a Mass in a seaside or mountain location, where it is also easy to contemplate the beauty of creation. In such cases, doesn’t it seem to you that improvising can come naturally?

Look, the problem is not the place. It is clear that in a scout camp you cannot always have the most suitable situation and liturgical place. But helping the young people you guide to enter the beauty of the liturgy does not mean crediting a logic of improvisation and sloppiness. Many ecclesial communities in this period “moved” to the places most frequented by tourists and vacationers. Outdoor venues are also used, even celebrating at 9pm or 10pm. The point is to create a suitable place for the celebration. And use, you pass me the terms, the right “tools of the trade”.

That is to say?

Once a suitable place has been found, suitable liturgical furnishings should be used: a dignified table that also has a tablecloth, cross, candles, and then a chalice and paten. Without neglecting the use of the Missal to avoid improvising the texts. Nothing then forbids the contemplation of a very beautiful place combined with the celebration.

It is another thing to experience emergency events …

There are situations such as warfare, or caused by extreme weather events, where other considerations apply. I am reminded of the imprisonment of the Vietnamese Cardinal Van Thuan, who celebrated Mass in his cell. These are extreme cases where a piece of bread and a few drops of wine open equally to the celebrated Mystery.

Situations need to be contextualized …

I would say that there is pastoral commitment, on the one hand, in lands and places of tourism where dioceses offer opportunities for meeting and, on the other, in situations such as youth camps or associations. But you can never give in to the logic of celebrating where it happens and to be carried out as soon as possible.

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