Question: Is “Sunday Mass” on Saturday evening turning us into “Seventh Day Catholics”?
Answer: Probably. When Supreme Court Justice William Brennan died, someone remarked that he was a true Catholic because he went to Mass every Saturday!
There is some justification for the practice, in that the Church’s liturgical day for Sundays and important feasts begins with “First Vespers” at about 5:00 PM on the previous day. The Office of the previous day ends with the earlier hour of None (about 3:00 PM). As this writer understands it, permission for Saturday evening Masses was obtained and intended for mission countries where it was logistically impossible for the priest to offer Mass in an adequate number of locations to serve the faithful on Sundays. A similar permission allowed the village Catechist or some other trusted layman to distribute Holy Communion when Mass was completely impossible. Permission for occasional general absolution might fit into the same set of urgent necessities.
The problem with such permissions arises when instead of being used by people in jungle mission stations they become universal, even where they are unneeded, and where people will make selfish use of them. The “get-it-over-Mass” has been adopted by golfers and late sleepers as their own, ladies distributing Communion have achieved a new sort of “status,” and general absolution absolves one of the embarrassment and honesty of a personal Confession.
Think of this as an opportunity for those in authority to restore a bit of order where chaos has reigned long enough—just don’t hold your breath.