Follow-up: Using Classrooms for Mass
A question related to our July 8 column on classroom Masses was on file from a Filipino correspondent. He asked: "Here in the Philippines, some of the shopping malls have a practice of having the Eucharist celebrated in them, most especially during Sundays. Coming to Mass in malls has been a practice of some of the families who frequent them, especially during Sundays. Some of these Masses are even televised. Could you comment on this? Is it really allowed?"
As with all habitual Masses outside of sacred spaces, such celebrations would have to be authorized by the bishop.
There are several things to be taken into account. There is no particular difficulty in having a chapel within a mall, just as they are found in other places with large conglomerations of people, such as airports, where people may take a spiritual break before the Blessed Sacrament and employees with irregular work shifts can attend Mass.
There is at least one religious congregation that specializes in setting up chapels in busy city areas so that Mass, confession, and adoration are available close to where people spend most of their time.
If this is the case with a mall Mass, then it is something worthwhile.
But herein lies the difficulty. Making Mass available at a mall on a Sunday could easily be seen as cooperating with a prevailing cultural trend that empties the Lord's Day of its sacredness and converts it into just another shopping day.
One could argue that it is best to offer the Mass where people are to be found, but the question remains if this is best for the common good. Sunday has a social as well as a religious function in predominantly Christian societies: It permits as many families as possible to be together for prayer and social interaction.
Although it will always be necessary for some people to work on Sundays, the commercialization of those days ties down an ever-growing number of families and thus weakens already fragile social bonds.
Another difficulty is the venue. If Mass is held in some public part of the mall, as seems to be implied by our correspondent, then the necessary separation from the profane cannot be achieved. It is hard to imagine serenely attending or celebrating Mass while people carry on business as usual all around you. This would hardly be a situation worthy of the Lord.
Things might be seen under a different light if commercial activities are suspended during the Mass. But the problem of respecting the integrity of Sunday as the Lord's Day still remains.