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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Alleluia and Scrutinies During Lent

by Catherine Frakas 16 May 2001

Alleluia and Scrutinies During Lent QUESTION from Kevin Durbin March 21, 2001 Hi Bro. Ignatius
I have two Lenten questions:
1) I am the music director for one of the masses at my church. Like a knowledgeable Catholic, I replaced the sung Alleluia gospel acclamation with a Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ one. HOWEVER, I left in (accidentally) a great Amen with Alleluia tucked in there. My priest told me to lose it for the next mass and I will, but my question is...did I invalidate the mass? Can a layperson invalidate a mass? Under what circumstances? Finally, if the Alleluia doesn't invalidate the mass, why get rid of it in the first place? Is this just a tradition or a prescribed liturgical practice? (O.K, so that was more than one question...sorry)
2) I was looking up Sunday readings on EWTN's site, and they listed Year C readings (of course), and a reading for the scrutinies (which seems to come from Year A only). I know a little about the scrutinies, but my knowledge is pretty thin. Exactly what is this practice and why do the readings only come from Year A??
Yours in Christ...Kevin
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on April 17, 2001 Dear Mr. Durbin:
Having the Alleluia inserted is illicit, but it does not invalidate the Mass. It is not possible for the laity to invalidate a Mass.
Why we don't use the Alleluia during Lent is that it is not appropriate. Lent is a time of penance and sorrow and preparation for the Great Alleluia of the Resurection on Easter morning.
Thus Liturgical law requires that the Alleluia not be said during Lent. But whether this law is followed has nothing to do with validity.
People often confuse the issues of validity and licitness. Think of it this way. Does getting a parking ticket invalidate your drivers license? No, your parking in the wrong place or parking overtime was illicit (that is, a violation of law), but violating the law on parking tickets does not invalidate your drivers license. Your Licence is still valid.
Saying the Alleluia during Lent is a parking ticket offense. It does not effect validity.
On the Scrutinies, the reason they are found in Year A is that it is Year A that those Scriptures verses happen to land.
The Scrutinies are a time for the people in RCIA. The Rite makes this description:
The scrutinies ... are rites for self-searching and repentance and have, above all, a spiritual purpose. THe scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal, all that is weak, defective or sinful in the hearts of the elect (those to be baptized at the coming Easter vigil); to bring out, then strengthen, all that is upright, strong, and good. (n. 141)
The scrutinies provide the people converting with a chance to review the faith and the step they are taking to convert and be baptized. It is, in a sense, a test of their commitment, but it really designed to heal any questions or doubts so that these people may be confident in their decision to convert and go forward to baptism with confidence.
Bro. Ignatius
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