December 10, 2017
2nd Sunday of Advent
“I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Holy Days of Obligation
What is a Holy Day of Obligation, why do we have them, and why is it so important that we attend Mass on these days?
A Holy Day of Obligation is a special day on which the Church celebrates a certain solemnity of Christ or the Saints. We celebrate the various saints’ feast days almost daily, but some of them are so important that the Church has made them mandatory for us to attend Mass.
Unfortunately, it is easy to think of an obligation as something burdensome that “I’m being forced to do”. I think it’s very important, however, to instead see these wonderful solemnities of the Church not so much as days of obligation, but rather as days of opportunity. It is an opportunity for us to come together as the body of Christ, to celebrate our faith, and to show our love for God and his Saints. Going to Mass on a great solemnity of Christ or the saints should be a day of immense joy and celebration. We find it easy to see Christmas this way (one of the Holy Days of Obligation), now we need to start seeing all the Church’s Holy Days this way.
How many Holy Days of Obligation are there? To answer that I want to begin by noting that Canon Law says that every Sunday is in fact a Holy Day of Obligation. This is why we must attend Mass every Sunday (or the evening before). Beyond Sundays, there are five Holy Days of Obligation (in almost every diocese of the United States, including our Archdiocese). These five are:
- January 1st – Mary, Mother of God
- August 15th – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- November 1st – All Saints Day
- December 8th – The Immaculate Conception
- December 25th – The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
To make this just a little bit more complicated, we are always required to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception and Christmas, however, when one of the other Holy Days of Obligation falls on a Monday or Saturday (i.e. next to a Sunday) the obligation is lifted. They would still be a Holy Day, but not a Holy Day of Obligation that year.
This year as we approach December 25th and January 1st, it turns out that both fall on a Monday. Thus, the obligation to attend Mass on Christmas remains, but the obligation is lifted for the Holy Day on January 1. Note: I still encourage you to attend this wonderful solemnity of the Mother of God, but you are not obliged to attend this year.
Please note our Mass schedule for the upcoming feasts, since the Saturday + Sunday + Monday situation can confuse things a bit.
You are in my daily prayers.
God bless you,
Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke
CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR’S MASS SCHEDULE
4th Sunday of Advent
Saturday, December 23rd – 5:00pm
Sunday, December 24th – 9:00am
(note the different Mass time for this Sunday)
Sunday, December 24th – 4:00pm & 10:00pm
Monday, December 25th – 9:00am
Sunday after Christmas
Saturday, December 30th – 5:00pm
Sunday, December 31st – 8:00am & 10:00am
Mary, Mother of God
Sunday, December 31st – 4:00pm
Monday, January 1st – 9:00am