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:
I have 96 days left in the Army Reserve.
Yes, that’s right. I’m almost done. I’ve been counting since it was 365 days.
It’s kind of a big deal.
I remember when I left for basic training.
I wasn’t afraid of the running, the shooting, the danger.
I was worried about the unknown. Would I find some friends? Someone to talk to? Would I be able to do what they expected me to? Would I be able to do it without crying?
I didn’t know what I was getting into. I admit that, now. I wasn’t really prepared.
I don’t think you can be prepared for something like that.
Life isn’t about preparing for every possible outcome or experience. It’s about going through with strength even when something surprises you.
For example, the first time I shot a gun, any kind of gun, was my 21st birthday. No one knew, except my battle buddy, that it was my birthday. No one knew and so someone that didn’t like me, she threatened me. I still remember what she said.
“I’ll cut you.”
What a crazy, ridiculous thing to say to someone, regardless of the situation. “I’ll cut you.”
She was one of those crazy-brave women. You know the kind I mean. She had this rough, abrasive exterior, but I think it stemmed from something that hurt her.
I was crying the first time I shoot my rifle.
I was crying when my drill sergeant came back from the target and said, “You’re a pretty good shot. You did really well.”
Then, I wasn’t crying anymore.
How can you possibly prepare for something like that?
There just isn’t a way to know that on the day you turn 21 you’ll be threatened by a crazy woman (I mean crazy here in the sense that she didn’t realize how much she could hurt someone) and then called a good shot the first time you put a real round through the chamber of an M16.
So, how do we live? How do we go through life, knowing that we aren’t going to know?
I recently got Angels Explained, a talk by Mark Miravalle. It’s amazing.
He strongly suggested we talk to our guardian angels. Did you know that your guardian angel was created with all the other angels at the beginning of time and he/she has been waiting for you?
Our guardian angels love us. And the more we talk to them, ask for their help, the more they can help, Miravalle said.
So I am trying to start praying that simple like “Angel of God” prayer. It’s beautiful and quick, and Miravalle said it works.
In between the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming, the wiping, scooping, writing, reading, watching… you know. In between those things, I try to talk to my guardian angel.
It’s weird. I’ll admit that. It’s crazy (in another sense of the word).
I ask him/her to pray for me. I ask him/her to intercede for me. All the ways that I plead with the Blessed Virgin, I do that with my guardian angel.
And I ask for his advice (again, like Mary). I ask for patience. I ask for him to pray for me when I can’t pray, when I don’t know how to pray, when I don’t know what to ask for.
And it works.