Holy Days of obligation…. the Catholic Church seems to be the only one (among so many others) that has Holy Days of Obligation.
We have feasts, solemnities, memorials…
Which of these are obligatory?
Well, the most important is Sunday.
Every Sunday is a Holy Day of obligation.
Here’s what the Catechism says.
2192 “Sunday … is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.”
1389 “The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.”
There you go. That’s the end of that, right?
No. Nice try.
2177 “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life.”
This is so important it’s one of the PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH.
The first precept: “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”
According to the Catechism, there are five precepts, though just a quick search of the Internet shows some think there are more. (The Church really doesn’t demand much from us.)
Alright, so Sunday, get to it. Go to Mass. Easy.
What about these Holy Days they speak of?
These days vary in the different Rites and by country.
In the United States, it even varies by diocese.
According to EWTN, beside Sunday (every Sunday), the Holy Days of obligation in the U.S. are:
1) January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
2) Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
3) August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
4) November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
5) December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
6) December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Canon lists 10 for the universal Church, including the six above plus:
The Epiphany, Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, St. Joseph and Sts. Peter and Paul.
(I was at Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ by accident… a nice accident. I didn’t even look at my Catholic calendar and just went to Mass that day.)
Anyway, in Hawaii, the only Holy Days are the Nativity (Christmas) and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Interesting, but local rule by Bishops and conference is another topic.
If any of the Holy Days occur on a Saturday or a Monday, they are typically transferred to the following or preceding Sunday (so you don’t have to go two days in a row).
I have a few saints I depend on for prayer and help regularly, and I like to go to Mass on their memorial days. It’s another, special chance to say thank you for their hard work on my behalf.
I know St. Joseph was behind me finding my current job. St. Matthias is constantly coming up on my petitions. My guardian angel as well, during the feast of the guardian angels.
There are all sorts of Marian holidays and celebrations all over the calendar. Depending on your priest, he may choose to celebrate those memorials on selected weekdays or the major memorials.
I think if you’re close with your priest, you can ask and he’d oblige you.
These days all start to mean something with a serious Catholic calendar (that you look at!). But all the dates can be found online as well.
Check out earlier Learn something posts: