Is it right for a priest to celebrate Mass by himself? This question is something that people have been discussing in some circles since the Council. The Council allows priests to concelebrate together, but what about when a priest finds himself alone? What about if a priest has a day away from his parish and can't make a local parish Mass? Should he say Mass by himself or not?
There is a beautiful prayer that the priest prays in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which I think should clear this issue up a bit. When offering the bread up to the Father (in the Ordinary Form, we say, "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation..."). The prayer is as follows:
Accept, O Holy Father, Almighty and eternal God, this spotless Host, which I, Your unworthy servant offer unto You, my living and true God; for my innumerable sins, offenses and negligences and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians, living and dead; that it may avail us and them unto life everlasting, Amen.
The prayers change and evolve, but the theology of the Mass does not. The Mass is offered for the living and the dead for the priest and all people, throughout the world - just like the sacrifice on Calvary - oh wait, one is a making present of the other! What an awesome thing! I now visualize the Mass as a nuclear bomb of grace going off, and I think it a shame to prevent that from happening just because a priest might have to offer up the Mass alone.
The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, No. 254, says, "Mass should not be celebrated without a minister or at least one of the faithful, except for a just and reasonable cause." Is there a better cause then wanting to help bring about the salvation of the living and the dead?
The Mass is awesome!