The parish is established to provide the parishioners with the helps of religion, especially with Mass. The parochial Mass is celebrated for their welfare on all Sundays and holidays of obligation, even when suppressed. The parish priest is not obliged to say it personally; but if he does not, he must offer his own Mass for that intention. Parishioners now fulfil their duty by assisting at Mass in any church; but formerly they had at least to hear a Mass in the parish church (ch. "Vices", 2, "De treuga et pace" in "Extrav. Comm." of Sixtus IV, n 1478). This obligation fell into desuetude owing to the privileges granted to the religious orders; the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII "De observ. et evit. in celebr. miss.") and Sess. XXIV, c. iv, de ref.), treats it only as a counsel; and notwithstanding certain provincial and diocesan regulations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the obligation ceased (Bened. XIV, "De syn.", XI, xiv). The Mass not being strictly conventual, it is not obligatory by common law for it to sung, but it may be, and frequently this is prescribed by the statutes or custom. It is then preceded by the blessing and aspersion of water on Sundays. Even if not sung, it is celebrated with additional solemnity, with more than two candles on the altar and two servers (S. Rit. C., 6 Feb., 1858, n. 3065). What is characteristic of it is the instruction, with its special prayers, the announcements made to the congregation, the publication of banns of marriage , and finally the familiar sermon or homily. (See MASS; also PASTOR.)
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